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Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by Christopher Howard — Oct 24, 2012

In its monthly roundup of obituaries, CAA recognizes the lives and achievements of the following artists, scholars, architects, photographers, and others whose work has significantly influenced the visual arts. This month was marked by the loss of the conceptual artist Michael Asher, the Belgian abstract painter Raoul De Keyser, the sculptor and activist An Dekker, and the English gallery director Michael Stanley. CAA has published a special obituary of Jeffrey R. Hayes, a professor of art history at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

  • Michael Asher, the trailblazing Los Angeles conceptual artist and beloved CalArts professor, passed away on October 15, 2012. He was 69 years old. Active since the early 1970s, Asher was one of the first artists to engage in institutional critique by altering the norms that define galleries, museums, and schools. His contribution to the 2010 Whitney Biennial, which requested that the museum be free and open for twenty-four-hours, earned him the prestigious Bucksbaum Award
  • Bruno Bobak, a Polish-born Canadian “war artist” during the Second World War, passed away on September 24, 2012, at the age of 88. Bobak enlisted in the Canadian Army at the age of 18, making him the youngest soldier to create artwork during the war. His watercolors and drawings were evocative and disturbing, showing the bare reality of life on the front lines
  • Melvin Charney, a Montreal-based architect and teacher, died on September 17, 2012. He was 75 years old. Charney created bold public works that blurred the lines between art and architecture, such as the garden for the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the world’s first human-rights monument in Ottawa, Canada. He was also instrumental in establishing the architecture program at the University of Montreal
  • Raoul De Keyser, a Belgian abstract painter, died on October 5, 2012. He was 82 years old. In an ever-expanding art world that prizes the brashest statement, De Keyser’s compositions stood out as examples of forceful gentleness, muted and lyrical. Long admired as a “painter’s painter,” he came to greater prominence during the 2000s with a series of major exhibitions in Germany, France, and England. He is represented by David Zwirner in New York
  • An Dekker, a socially conscious sculptor of biomorphic forms, died on September 14, 2012, at the age of 80. Dekker was born in the Netherlands and traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa. Residing in London the 1970s and 1980s, she was a cofounder of the Hackney Flashers’ photography workshop (with her fellow artist Jo Spence, also recently deceased) and the Women’s Graphic Workshop
  • Préfète Duffaut, a Haitian muralist and painter, passed away on October 6, 2012, at the age of 89. Duffaut created brilliantly colored murals of imaginary cities for hospitals and churches. His imagery was inspired by the Haitian religion of voodoo and a personal mysticism
  • Gilbert Warren Einstein, an art dealer who founded G. W. Einstein Company in New York, passed away on September 21, 2012, at the age of 70. Einstein’s gallery specialized in twentieth-century works on paper, and he was a member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association of America
  • Robin Fior, a British graphic designer at the forefront of the 1960s print revolution, died on September 19, 2012. He was 77 years old. Fior made a name for himself as a designer for radical newspapers, such as Black Dwarf and Peace News. He was political to the bone, active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and in later years served as the art director at the left-wing Pluto Press
  • Ulrich Franzen, a polarizing German-born architect whose projects exemplified the modernist architecture ethos of “form follows function,” passed away on October 6, 2012. He was 91. Franzen’s most visible project was the skywalks at Hunter College in New York, an enclosed pedestrian walkway connecting the school’s buildings; other prominent commissions included Houston’s Alley Theater in 1968
  • Richard Gordon, a photographer and writer based in Berkeley, California, died on October 6, 2012. He was 67 years old. Gordon’s black-and-white street photography followed the tradition of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt, and Robert Frank. An exhibition devoted to his 1970s photographs of American cities is on view at Gitterman Gallery in New York until November 7, 2012
  • Pedro E. Guerrero, a photographer who gained recognition for his dynamic images of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, died on September 13, 2012, at the age of 95. Guerrero’s working relationship with Wright, which began in the late 1930s, led to magazine assignments and book projects. In the 1960s and 1970s he embarked on a new photography series documenting the work and personality of the artists Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson
  • Jeffrey R. Hayes, a professor of art history and director of the master’s degree program in liberal studies at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, passed away on June 18, 2012. He was 65 years old. A specialist in outsider art, Hayes wrote several books on the artist Oscar Bluemner. CAA has published a special obituary of Hayes
  • Mick Jones, a British illustrator, teacher, and dedicated socialist, died in August 2012 at the age of 68. Jones took part in the Prague Spring of 1968, an experience that revealed to him how art can be a force for social change. Back in England he shared his devotion to politics through community murals and trade-union banners. He spearheaded the Camden Mural Project (1978), which instructed young people in the art of mural painting in public spaces and housing projects
  • Jeremy Le Grice, an English painter inspired by the landscape of his native Cornwall, died on August 9, 2012. He was 75. As a young man he studied with the Cornish painter Peter Lanyon and took classes at the Slade School of Art in London. Le Grice’s paintings, a cross between abstraction and representation, have a rough-hewn quality, fitting for an artist who lived for most of his life in close proximity to the sea
  • Howard R. Moody, a reverend with a love for radical art and social justice, passed away on September 12, 2012, at the age of 92. For over thirty years Moody was the minister of Judson Memorial Church in New York’s Greenwich Village. No ordinary congregation, the church became famous as an alternative space for experimentation in visual art, theater, and dance; likewise establishing itself as a safe haven for the marginalized poor and drug-addicted inhabitants of the neighborhood
  • Harris Savides, a cinematographer who worked closely with young directors, died on October 9, 2012. He was 55 years old. Independent filmmakers depended on Savides’s exacting vision and technical skill to achieve the perfect look for their films. Notable films include Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere (2010) and Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding (2007), both of which benefited from Savides’s moody and poetic atmosphere
  • Serge Spitzer, a Romanian-born installation artist whose work addresses the passing of time and collective memory, died on September 9, 2012, at the age of 61. The artist participated in Documenta and the Venice Biennale. One of his best-remembered works was a 2010 installation at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, a labyrinthine network of plastic tubing that evoked earlier forms of communication in the city
  • Michael Stanley, the director of Modern Art Oxford, a contemporary art gallery in England, passed away on September 22, 2012. He was 37 years old. As the director of both Modern Art Oxford and the Milton Keynes Gallery, Stanley championed young artists, including Jenny Saville, Phil Collins, and Pawel Althamer. This year he served as a judge for the prestigious Turner Prize
  • John Steiger, a Chicago-based illustrator and artist known for his educational drawings, died on September 5, 2012, at the age of 89. A veteran of World War II, Steiger contributed work to Encyclopaedia Britannica Films and the children’s magazine Highlights; he also maintained a separate studio practice as a realist painter
  • Albin Trowski, a Polish-born artist and illustrator who made his home in Manchester, England, following World War II, passed away on September 12, 2012. He was 93 years old. A gifted draftsman, Trowski realized charming city scenes and landscapes in watercolor and oil paint
  • Rodney Uren, an Australian architect known for his large-scale urban projects, passed away on September 9, 2012, at the age of 63. He was a principal designer at the international design firm Hassell Practice; notable projects include the Olympic Park Station, a majestic, environmentally friendly structure that was built for the Sydney Olympics in 2000

Read all past obituaries in the arts in CAA News, which include special texts written for CAA. Please send links to published obituaries, or your completed texts, to Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor, for the November list.

Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News