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Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by Christopher Howard — Jul 09, 2012

In its monthly roundup of obituaries, CAA recognizes the lives and achievements of the following artists, curators, designers, photographers, 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 the Pop art dealer Ivan Karp, the film scholar Andrew Sarris, and the feminist art historian Paula Hays Harper.

  • Carl F. Barnes Jr., a former president of the International Center of Medieval Art, died on May 25, 2012, at the age of 77. Barnes was a professor emeritus of art history at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where he had taught from 1971 to 2001. A specialist in European medieval art, he wrote extensively on the thirteenth-century French artist Villard de Honnecourt
  • Barton Lidice Benes, a sculptor and collector, died on May 30, 2012, at the age of 69. Benes made art from the raw materials of everyday life, drawing support and controversy for using medical equipment associated with AIDS/HIV treatment and the cremated remains of friends who perished from the disease. His object and art-filled apartment is now being meticulously re-created as an installation at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks
  • Willard Bond, an artist known for his vibrant paintings of yachts and seascapes, died on May 19, 2012. He was 85 years old. Bond was a versatile artist, influenced in equal parts by the teaching of Buckminster Fuller and by his own experience as a pier master at New York’s South Street Seaport. Admirers claim that his paintings embody the ineffable experience of being on a boat at sea
  • Frederick J. Brown, a figurative painter deeply inspired by jazz music and the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, passed away on May 5, 2012. He was 67 years old. Brown created colorful, highly expressionistic portraits of people whom he admired, such as the avant-garde composer Anthony Braxton and the painter Willem de Kooning. His artworks were exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, and the New Orleans Museum of Art
  • Paula Hays Harper, an art historian who challenged the discipline with her feminist perspective, died on June 3, 2012, at the age of 81. In the 1970s, Harper was instrumental in establishing the feminist art program at California Institute of the Arts and for three decades was a professor at the University of Miami in Florida. She also coauthored a biography of the Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro
  • Paul Jenkins, an American abstract painter known for his poured-paint technique, died on June 9, 2012, at the age of 88. In the 1950s Jenkins spent extensive time working and showing in Europe, a factor that made him less visible in the New York art scene than his aesthetic peers, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, and Morris Louis. Jenkins’s art, though, was wildly popular, and the artist had many prominent patrons and museum exhibitions throughout the United States, France, and Great Britain. On a side note to his career arc, Jenkins’s paintings were featured in the 1978 film, An Unmarried Woman
  • Gerhard Kallmann, an architect known for his controversial modernist design for Boston City Hall, died on June 19, 2012, at the age of 97. Built in 1968, the Brutalist building was criticized and praised, sometimes at the same time. Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture critic for the New York Times, wrote that Boston now had “one of the handsomest buildings around, and thus far, one of the least understood”
  • Ivan Karp, an art dealer and gallery owner who championed Pop art in its early days, passed away on June 28, 2012. He was 86 years old. Karp served as codirector of the Leo Castelli Gallery and in 1969 opened his own space, OK Harris, in SoHo, which established the fledgling artist neighborhood as the new gallery mecca in Manhattan. Artists whom Karp promoted include Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg
  • Jeff Keen, a British experimental filmmaker, visual artist, and poet, passed away on June 21, 2012. He was 88 years old. In his late 30s Keen hit his stride as an artist with a series of short, surrealistic films that combined collage techniques and innovative sound tracks. Keen was a founding member of the London Film-Makers Co-op in 1966 and actively participated in the counterculture movement
  • Mary Katharine MacGregor, a former curator of prints and drawings at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, died on May 16, 2012, at the age of 89. MacGregor was affiliated with several New York art museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, before she returned to her native Iowa to pursue a curatorial position at the Print and Drawing Study Room at the University of Iowa’s Museum of Art
  • Georges Mathieu, a French abstract painter, passed away on June 10, 2012. He was 91 years old. In the 1940s and 1950s Mathieu worked in the mode of Lyrical Abstraction, a French counterpart to Abstract Expressionism in the United States. He often performed his paintings in front of a live audience as a demonstration of his dramatic, freeform technique
  • LeRoy Neiman, an artist and illustrator of the good life, died on June 20, 2012, at the age of 91. Like a contemporary Norman Rockwell, Neiman worked in a space between the fine-art and magazine worlds. He painted illustrations of sporting events for Playboy in the 1950s and taught for many years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Justine Price, a professor of art history at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, died on October 24, 2011, at the age of 42. A faculty member of Canisius College since 2005, she had recently received tenure and been named the director of the college’s art-history program. Her scholarly interests extended from American Pop art to contemporary Polish photography
  • Michael Rabe, a scholar of South Asian art and a professor at Xavier University in Chicago, died in late March 2012. Rabe’s colleague Andrew Cohen has written a special obituary for CAA
  • Andrew Sarris, a film critic and scholar who wrote for the Village Voice for many years, passed away on June 20, 2012, at the age of 83. A champion of auteur theory, Sarris wrote a seminal book on the subject, The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968 (1968). He had taught at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and was an inspirational figure to several generations of film critics and historians
  • A. Richard Turner, an expert on Italian Renaissance art, particularly the legacy of Leonardo da Vinci, died on September 9, 2011. He was 79 years old. Turner was the author of Inventing Leonardo (1993), a book that analyzed five centuries of critical dialogue on the artist. Turner had a long teaching career that included stints at the University of Michigan, Princeton University, and Middlebury College before he became the director of the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 1979
  • Jeff West, a champion of the arts in Dallas, Texas, died on May 22, 2012, at the age of 54. The executive director of the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, West had helped bring film culture to the city with the AFI Dallas International Film Festival. He also worked for eleven years as executive director of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, an institution that preserves the memory of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination

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 August list.

Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News