CAA News Today

Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by Christopher Howard — Mar 12, 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. This month was marked by the loss of three major artists: Mike Kelley, Dorothea Tanning, and Antoni Tàpies.

  • Leopold (Lee) Adler II, former president of the Historic Savannah Foundation, died on January 29, 2012. He was 88 years old. Born into a wealthy Savannah family, Adler worked all his life to preserve the city’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century homes, gaining a reputation as a committed preservationist
  • Theo Angelopoulos, a celebrated Greek filmmaker whose work placed him in a critical pantheon of auteur directors, among them Michelangelo Antonioni, died on January 24, 2012. He was 76. Angelopoulos’s best-known films include Eternity and a Day (1998), which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. At the time of his death, Angelopoulos was working on The Other Sea, the last film in a trilogy about Greek history
  • Carolyn Autry, an artist, printmaker, and educator who taught at the University of Toledo in Ohio for thirty-six years, died on December 12, 2011, at the age of 71. Autry exhibited her work nationally and internationally and was an avid world traveler in her final years
  • Lillian Bassman, a fashion and fine-art photographer, died on February 13, 2012, age 94. Bassman first came to prominence in the 1940s as an art director for Junior Bazaar, a youth-orientated version of Harper’s Bazaar. She also showed her pictures in galleries around the world, influencing several generations of fashion photographers
  • Emmanuel Cooper, a ceramicist, died on January 21, 2012, at the age of 73. Cooper was primarily known as potter but also established himself as an art critic, educator, and gay-rights activist. His work is in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Mary Louise Coulouris, a vibrant painter, printmaker, and muralist, died on December 20, 2011, at the age of 72.  Born in New York to Greek parents, Coulouris moved to London to attend school, eventually settling in Scotland. Well known for her public artworks in railway stations and hospitals across the United Kingdom, she also showed in galleries in Paris and London and is included in the collections of the New York Public Library, the Bibliothèque National in Paris, and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England
  • Peter de Francia, a celebrated artist, intellectual, and professor of painting at the Royal College of Art in London, passed away on January 19, 2012, at the age of 90. De Francia, born in France to an English mother and an Italian father, was multilingual from an early age. He served in World War II and was a lifelong socialist and an active member of the British art scene since the 1950s
  • Malcolm Fowler, a fine artist and illustrator who brought artful creativity and humor into the world of advertising, died on January 18, 2012, at age 68. Fowler founded the pioneering illustration and model-making Shirt Sleeve Studio in London with his wife, Nancy Fouts, in the late 1960s. The couple crafted seminal ad campaigns for Tate Gallery, and their work has been collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • John Gage, a beloved, freethinking art historian known for his scholarship on J. M. W. Turner, died on February 13, 2012, age 73. Gage taught art history at the University of Cambridge from 1970 to 1996 and was elected a fellow of the British Academy in 1995
  • Robert E. Hecht Jr., a controversial American dealer in ancient antiquities died, on February 8, 2012, at the age of 92. Just three weeks prior to his death, Hecht was on trial in Rome for charges of antiquity tomb looting and black-market dealing. A lifelong passion for collecting and selling ancient art began when he was a student at the American Academy in Rome
  • John House, an art historian known for his scholarship on Impressionism, specifically Claude Monet, passed away on February 7, 2012. He was 66. House began teaching at the University of East Anglia and University College of London before going to the Courtauld Institute of Art. He often took a radical approach to his subject, challenging previous scholarship with his books and with the popular exhibitions he organized
  • Mike Kelley, a groundbreaking artist who put Los Angeles on the map as a contemporary art mecca, committed suicide at the age of 57 on February 1, 2012. Kelley worked in video, installation, painting, and performance, often combining genres to spectacular and grotesque effect. A traveling retrospective of Kelly’s work, originating at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, will come to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2014
  • Ricardo Legorreta, the Mexican-born architect known for his design of vibrant, modernist buildings throughout the southwestern United States and internationally, died on December 30, 2011. He was 80
  • Steven Leiber, a San Franciscan art collector and rare-book dealer, died on January 28, 2012. He was 54 years old. Leiber operated a website devoted to his collection and knowledge of art ephemera and helped appraise several important archives, including those of Avalanche magazine, Allan Kaprow, and Claus Oldenberg
  • John Madin, an architect and planner who transformed the look of postwar England, passed away on January 8, 2012. He was 87. Madin is known for his monolithic designs for commercial buildings in cities throughout the North of England, the West Midlands, and Leeds
  • Isi Metzstein, an esteemed Scotish architect and teacher, died on January 10, 2012, at age 83. Metzstein founded the architectural practice Gillespie Kidd and Coia, which designed churches in Scotland, including the Le Corbusier–influenced St. Peter’s Seminary (now falling into ruin), and created buildings for Robinson College and Cambridge University
  • Amy Page, a writer and former editor-in-chief of Art + Auction magazine passed away on January 19, 2012, at age 72. A native New Yorker, Page was as comfortable in the rough and tumble world of art journalism as she was with socializing with collectors, gallery directors, and traveling the world to attend art fairs
  • Gianfranco Pardi, an Italian artist who created minimalist paintings, died on February 2, 2012, at age 78. Pardi lived and worked in Milan, where he showed at the Gio Marconi Gallery. In 1986 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and his 1970s series Architettura combines hard-edge abstraction, drawing, cable wires and aluminum
  • Vita Petersen, an artist, teacher, and legendary fixture at the New York Studio School, passed away on October 22, 2011, age 96. Born in Berlin to an aristocratic, art-loving family, Petersen moved to New York in 1938 and became involved in the heady art scene of the 1940s and 1950s. She showed her colorful abstractions at the Betty Parsons Gallery in the 1960s and was known to paint every day of her life
  • Jessie Poesch, an art professor at Tulane University’s Newcomb College in New Orleans, died on April 23, 2011, at the age of 88. Poesch was a specialist in decorative arts, pottery, and Louisiana architecture. She taught at Newcomb College from 1963 to 1992 and wrote books and articles that established her as an expert in her field
  • Julie Carter Preston, a Liverpool-born ceramicist whose clients included members of the British Royal Family, died on January 6, 2012. She was 85 years old. Preston is best known for her use of sgraffitto, an ancient scratching technique that creates a rich-looking surface texture. She taught for many years at the Liverpool College of Art, and her work is represented by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool
  • Peter Saunders, a British painter whose favorite subject was the city of London and its people, passed away on November 19, 2011, age 70. Saunders attended Camberwell School of Art, where he studied under Euan Uglow. He later taught at schools throughout London and was a member of the Soho crowd of artists who gathered at the Colony Room in the 1960s and 1970s
  • Ian Simpson, an artist and art instructor who was a presenter on the BBC program Eyeline (1968–69), died on December 15, 2011, at the age of 78. Simpson taught at Hornsey College of Art in London and at St Martins School of Art from 1972 to 1988. He was a great believer in demystifying the world of art-making, and that technical skills could be taught to anyone with the dedication to learn them
  • Norma Merrick Sklarek, the first African American woman to become a licensed architect, died on February 6, 2012, aged 85. Born in Harlem, Sklarek was one of only two women to graduate from Columbia University with a degree in architecture. She moved to Los Angeles to join Gruen Associates in 1960, where she worked as the project director for Terminal 1 at Los Angeles International Airport and later was a founding partner of Siegel-Sklarek-Diamon, an all-woman architectural firm
  • Kazimierz Smolen, the former director and cofounder of the State Museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau and a survivor of the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Mauthausen, died on January 27, 2012, at the age of 91. In addition to founding the State Museum at Auschwitz, he appeared as a witness in many war criminal trials, including the Nuremberg Trials in 1945–46
  • Tobi Lim Sonstroem, a graphic-design alumnus of the Tyler School of Art in Pennsylvania, took his own life on February 2, 2012. He was 25 years old. Sonstroem was remembered by friends and teachers as a passionate young man who was dedicated to his burgeoning art and graphic-design career
  • Dorothea Tanning, a painter, sculptor, and muse to the Surrealists, died on January 31, 2012. She was 101 years old. Tanning was married for thirty years to Max Ernst and lived with him in New York, Arizona, and France. In addition to an esteemed career as a painter, she published several books of verse and in 1994 established the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award at the Academy of American Poets
  • Antoni Tàpies, the Catalan painter known for large-scale works that often mix oil painting with sand, chalk, and household objects, died on February 6, 2012. He was 88. The critic Roland Penrose described Tàpies as “a painter who was to create mysteries in matter itself.” The Tàpies Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, was created in 1984 as a museum and research center dedicated to the artist’s work and to other international modern artists
  • Eugene Weston III, an architect who revolutionized the look of Los Angeles homes in the 1950s, died on January 31, 2012, at the age of 87. Weston’s designs emphasized space, glass windows, and natural light, bringing an elegant, modern sensibility to middle-class family homes. Later commissions include the Scripps College Research Center and the San Diego Zoo
  • Erica Wilson, a craftswoman who popularize embroidery and needlework through numerous television appearances, books, and magazine articles, died on December 13, 2011. She was 83. The British-born Wilson moved to New York in 1954, where she taught at Cooper Union and gave private lessons in her apartment. Wilson later opened boutique shops on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and on Long Island, as well as in Palm Beach, Florida, and in Nantucket, Massachusetts
  • Althea Wynne, a British sculptor known for her equestrian statues in bronze and ceramic, died on January 24, 2012, at the age of 75. Inspired by Etruscan art and a childhood love of horseback riding, Wynne created sculptures recognized as powerful and graceful monuments. Her best-known commission is the three bronze horses that stand sentinel at Minister Court in the City of London

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 April listing.


Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News