posted by Christopher Howard — Jan 25, 2012
In its regular roundup of obituaries, CAA recognizes the lives and achievements of the following artists, designers, architects, photographers, dealers, filmmakers, and other men and women whose work has had a significant impact on the visual arts. Included this month are the major twentieth-century artists John Chamberlain and Helen Frankenthaler, who both died in December 2011.
- Eve Arnold, a photojournalist and writer who was the first woman to join the Magnum Photo agency, died on January 4, 2012, at age 99. Beginning her career in the late 1940s, Arnold photographed celebrities, documented the McCarthy hearings and the civil rights movement, and did extensive work in Britain, China, and Russia.
- John Buchanan, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco who brought in a string of successive hit shows, including Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and a survey of masterpieces by Pablo Picasso from the Musée National in Paris, died on December 30, 2011. He was 58 years old
- John Chamberlain, a sculptor of found metal whose work bridged Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism, passed away on December 21, 2011, at the age of 84. Chamberlain first used car parts and then pieces of raw galvanized steel to create his sculptures, whose form and colors offered a dystopian take on the automobile as American Dream
- Niles Ford, a New York–based dancer and choreographer whose work combined elements of ballet, jazz, and modern dance while embedding themes of political and social activism, died on January 14, 2012. He was 52.
- Helen Frankenthaler, an abstract painter whose stain technique led to the development of the Color Field movement, passed away on December 27, 2011, at age 83. Once married to Robert Motherwell, Frankenthaler was an active member of the downtown New York art community in the 1950s and 1960s and had major solo exhibitions at the Jewish Museum (1960), the Whitney Museum of American Art (1969), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1998)
- Andrew Geller, a postwar architect of prefabricated homes who designed the room in which Nikita Kruschev and Richard Nixon had their famous Kitchen Debate, died on December 25, 2011. He was 87
- Iris Gill, a painter inspired by nature who was a member of the San Diego branch of the Women’s Caucus for Art, died on January 2, 2012. She was 41 years old
- Jan Groover, an American photographer who had lived in France since 1991 and who produced painterly still lifes with formalist concerns, died on January 1, 2012, at age 68. In 1987, Groover became one of the first women to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
- John McWhinnie, a dealer and collector of rare twentieth-century books and ephemera and the director of Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in New York, died on January 6, 2012. He was 43
- Robert Nelson, an avant-garde filmmaker active in the San Francisco art scene of the 1950s and 1960s, died on January 9, 2012, at the age of 81. Known for the wit and playful energy he brought to the world of underground filmmaking, Nelson was the creator of Plastic Haircut (1963), Oh Dem Watermelons (1965), and Grateful Dead (1967–68)
- Bill Radawec, an eclectic multimedia artist based in Los Angeles and Cleveland whose recent work consisted of colorful paintings inspired by manufacturer house paint chips and the work of Ellsworth Kelly and Brice Marden, died on July 5, 2011, at age 59. Well-loved for his generosity and support of other artists, Radawec organized art shows in major museums and artist-run galleries
- James Rizzi, a New York–based Pop artist known for his three-dimensional graphic constructions, died on December 26, 2011, at age 61. Playful, colorful, and full of childlike energy, Rizzi’s work included designs for tourist guides and German postage stamps, as well as the cover artwork for Tom Tom Club’s first album in 1980 and two music videos for the band
- Garrison Roots, a public artist, sculptor, and chair of the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he had taught since 1982, died on December 21, 2011. He was 59 years old
- Anne Tyng, a pioneering female architect and architectural theorist who had a professional and personal relationship with Louis Kahn, died on December 27, 2011, at age 91. Born in Jiangxi, China, Tyng was one of the first women to graduate from Harvard’s architecture school, in 1944
- Haydee Venegas, an art critic and educator who served as vice president of the International Association of Art Critics, died on December 31, 2011. She was 61
- John C. Wessel, a New York–based art dealer who championed gay artists in the 1980s and 1990s, passed away on December 9, 2011. Born in 1941, Wessel also served as regional representative for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1977 to 1984
- Eva Zeisel, a renowned ceramic tableware artist and designer, died on December 30, 2011, at the age of 105. After emigrated to the United States from Vienna in 1938, Zeisel began a celebrated teaching career at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York
Read all past obituaries in the arts in CAA News, which include special texts written for CAA. Please send links to published obituaries to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor, for the February/March listing.