CAA News Today

Piotr Piotrowski: In Memoriam

posted by July 22, 2015

Amy Bryzgel is lecturer in history of art in the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The field of art history and culture in Central and Eastern Europe mourns the loss of its unofficial cultural ambassador: the art historian, curator, and critic Piotr Piotrowski, who died on May 3, 2015, at the age of 63. The author of numerous publications, Piotrowski was a pioneer of new methods of study and approach to the art history of the region.

Piotrowski was professor ordinarius in the Department of Art History at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, where he was also chair of the department (1999–2008) and head of modern art history (1996–2009). He was director of the National Museum in Warsaw from 2009 to 2010 and served on a number of advisory boards, such as those for the National Gallery of Prague (academic board), Ars (Slovak Academy of Sciences), and Art Margins (MIT Press, editorial board). Piotrowski was also a permanent research fellow of the Graduate School for East and South-East European Studies, a program of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and Regensburg University. In 2010 he was given the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory, which acknowledges the dedication of an arts and culture professional to deepening and broadening internationally the knowledge of visual art and culture in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe. He held numerous academic fellowships, from the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts (2009), CASVA in Washington, DC (1989–90), and most recently the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2015). Piotrowski’s most recent books, In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and the Avant-Garde in Eastern Europe, 1945–1989 (Reaktion Books, 2009) and Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe (Reaktion Books, 2012), have set the standard for comparative studies of modern and contemporary art in East Central Europe. Both are key texts not only in the field of Central and East European art history, but also for art history in general.

Piotrowski’s contributions to the field, however, go well beyond his substantial and impressive list of accomplishments. He was one of the guiding forces in the field of Central and Eastern European art history. His publications are at the forefront of the academic study and research of an area that had largely been neglected by Western scholars throughout the Cold War and is only recently expanding from its previously self-contained national histories. What’s more, Piotrowski’s project didn’t just unearth these practices and expose them to the West; in writing these histories he also criticized the so-called universal canon of art history, offering a view from “the margins” to “expose fractures within center,” to use his words. His project was to subvert the traditional geography of art, calling for a horizontal approach that would eventually contribute to the globalization of Eastern European art and help to develop a true global art history.

Those who knew Piotrowski remember his warmth and generosity and his quick, infectious sense of humor. Regardless of the situation, his personality always shined through—despite being a man of considerable achievements, publications, and awards, he was incredibly humble. Furthermore, he was extremely dedicated to the field and to his work and uncompromising in his principles, regardless of the cost to him personally or professionally. In October 2014, he organized a large and very successful conference in Lublin, Poland, entitled “East European Art Seen from the Global Perspective: Past and Present,” and was working to produce the conference reader up until his death.

All who knew his work agree on one thing: Piotr Piotrowski left us far too soon. Most of us expected to look forward to many more years of his talks, publications, exhibitions, and projects. One small bright spot we can look forward to is his forthcoming publication, From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum, edited with Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and published by Ashgate. Furthermore, it must be remembered that Piotrowski was a teacher—not only to his many undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD students, but also to those who read his work and followed his example. Piotrowski taught us all very much, and in our future work, we can only hope to insure that his spirit will live on.

Filed under: Obituaries

John Wesley William: In Memoriam

posted by July 20, 2015

Julie Harris earned her PhD in art history at the University of Pittsburgh in 1989. She teaches at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership.

There was little in John Williams’s early life to suggest that he would eventually become the world’s authority on Spanish medieval art—unless one considers a boundless energy and curiosity that propelled him from an athletic childhood in Memphis, through a canoe trip down the Mississippi, service in the Marines, and eventually led him to study at Duke, Yale, and University of Michigan—where he discovered Spanish medieval art and earned a PhD in 1962. A scholar of international reputation, inspiring teacher, and family man, Williams died on June 6, 2015. He was 87 years old.

Williams taught first at Swarthmore College from 1960 until 1972. He then joined the Fine Arts Department of the University of Pittsburgh, where he remained for thirty-five years. At Pitt, Williams served as chair for five years, was named Distinguished Service Professor in 1993, and was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of History of Art and Architecture from 1997 to 2000. Among the many honors he received in his career were two Fulbrights to Spain, two NEH grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a visiting membership at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and an appointment as a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.

Best known for his work on the Beatus Commentaries, Williams’s work evolved from searching for models for these manuscripts’ rich and enigmatic imagery to recognizing the individuals responsible for their creation and a careful reading of their reception. His five-volume series, The Illustrated Apocalypse: A Corpus of the Illustrations of the Commentary on the Apocalypse (Harvey Miller, 1994–2003), won the Eleanor Tufts Award from the American Society for Hispanic Art Historical Studies. Williams’s interests and research were not limited to manuscript studies; he also was an authority on the major Romanesque monuments of Spain, such as San Isidoro in León, Santo Domingo de Silos, and Santiago de Compostela. He participated in rigorous international debates over their dating, patronage, and the meaning of their decoration in all media. This work generated groundbreaking and authoritative publications in such journals as The Art Bulletin and Gesta and in collaborative volumes, some of which he edited or coedited.

John’s life-long interest in Spain did not end with his retirement from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. In addition to ongoing work in medieval art, he recently turned his attention to securing the attribution of a neglected Goya in the Carnegie Institute. A documentary project on the Beatus manuscripts, directed and produced by Murray Grigor and the cinematographer Hamid Shams with commentary by Williams, premiered in New York at the Morgan Library and Museum last October. Even as his illness progressed, he remained engaged in academic pursuits. Determined to complete his book, he enlisted the help of a former student, Therese Martin of Madrid (CCHS-CSIC). The resulting work, Visions of the End in Medieval Spain: Tradition and Context of the Beatus Commentary on the Apocalypse, with a Census of Illustrated Manuscripts and Study of the Geneva Beatus (forthcoming from Amsterdam University Press, 2016), both introduces a recently discovered manuscript and offers Williams an opportunity to update and reassess his earlier work on the Beatus corpus.

Williams had a gift for synthetic scholarship, revealing connections across the Pyrenees and across disciplines in a way that made his art-historical analysis deep and utterly unique. Four students—Martin, David Raizman, Ann Boylan, and myself—wrote their dissertations on Spanish medieval topics under his supervision. Both as his student and in later years, I found that John’s authoritative writing and speaking style made me believe that what he was doing—and by extension what I doing—was important. John was a demanding and thorough adviser who became a delightful friend. He had little sympathy for trendy jargon but plenty of interest in new ideas. I never stopped sending him my work or seeking his approval.

A relentlessly productive scholar, Williams will also be remembered as a person of varied interests, including but not limited to fine books and martinis, music of many genres, good conversation, and the dance at Kalamazoo. He is survived by his wife, Mary; their six children; and thirteen grandchildren.

Filed under: Obituaries

Janet Kaplan: In Memoriam

posted by December 19, 2014

The following obituary for Janet Kaplan was published by the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 15, 2014. CAA will follow up with its own text in the new year.

It is with deepest sorrow that we share with you the news that on Friday, December 12, Art History Faculty Professor and Curatorial Studies Director, Dr. Janet Kaplan passed away.

We will honor Professor Kaplan by hosting a remembrance to honor her here at Moore in the spring semester at a date to be determined. Dr. Kaplan was beloved and respected by many artists and scholars in the Philadelphia community and beyond. She will be deeply missed by the students and those who teach and work at Moore.

Dr. Kaplan had a long and fruitful career at Moore College of Art & Design. She began teaching at Moore in 1980 as an Assistant Professor, promoted to Associate Professor in 1987 and to full Professor in 1993. Dr. Kaplan received tenure in 1987 and served as the Chair of Liberal Arts from 1989 to 2003. Professor Kaplan served as the Executive Editor of the Art Journal for the College Art Association in New York City from 1995 to 2002. The Art Journal was the winner of the Utne Award for Independent Magazine Publishing in 2002. Dr. Kaplan was instrumental in the planning and development for the Curatorial Studies major, working in collaboration with Dr. Maureen Pelta, Chair of the Liberal Arts department, the Liberal Arts faculty and Academic Dean to develop curriculum for the nation’s first undergraduate Curatorial Studies program that successfully launched in fall 2006.

Throughout her teaching career Dr. Kaplan also taught at NYU, Institute of Fine Arts as a Visiting Professor and Graduate Colloquium; Vermont College as a graduate faculty in the MFA in Visual Arts program; and at the University of New Hampshire. She served as a moderator, panelist and speaker at regional, national and international conferences and symposia on a wide range of topics related to art criticism, artist responses to social issues, women and surrealism, media spectacle and the politics of representation. She was a leader in generating dialogue about women in the arts, organizing symposia including a 2000 symposium at The National Museum of Women in the Arts and 3 Curatorial Conversations here at Moore including “Curating and Activism: An International Panel and Conversation” in 2009. These Curatorial Conversations were supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and through the support from Frances and Bayard Storey. Dr. Kaplan published widely on modern and contemporary art. Her essays and interviews have been published in numerous national and international art journals. She frequently wrote book reviews for art journals including one on Whitney Chadwick’s book on Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. She is the author of Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys, an important internationally known scholarly work, published in multiple languages.

In 2001, Dr. Kaplan received a Fellowship in Arts Criticism from the Pennsylvania Council for Humanities and in 2003 she received a Special Opportunities Stipend from the Pennsylvania Council for Humanities. Professor Kaplan served on the advisory board, consultant and/or review panelist for numerous organizations and institutions including the School of Art at Carnegie-Mellon University; the Arts Advisory Board of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority; the Rosenbach Museum and Library; NEA grants panel in 2001 for Visual Arts Creativity and Organizational Capacity; review panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund in 1998; the Advisory Board for the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, 1997–99; and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Varian Fry Project. In 2012, she co-curated an exhibition fo the work of artist Ashley Hune in Sinop, Turkey.

Dr. Kaplan gave back to the Moore community through her extensive service to the College and to the community. In addition to the institutions and organizations where she served in an ongoing capacity, she frequently participated in citywide and College organized events. She moderated panels organized by The Galleries at Moore in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and served as a panelist at the Free Library of Philadelphia for one film/one book events. Recently, Dr. Kaplan had an essay published in 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV, Lucy + Jorge Orta, City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, 2013. Moore College of Art & Design is proud to have had the honor of Dr. Kaplan’s service, teaching and scholarship; she will be missed by her colleagues, her students and the staff at Moore.

Filed under: Obituaries

Sheila J. McNally: In Memoriam

posted by October 24, 2014

Sheila J. McNally, professor emerita of art history at the University of Minnesota, passed away in Minneapolis on September 24, 2014. She was 81 years old.

McNally graduated with a BA from Vassar College in 1953. Following studies at the University of Kiel, the University of Munich, and the Radcliffe Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, she received her PhD from Harvard University in 1965, writing a dissertation on “The Role of Ornament in Protocorinthian Vase Painting.” After serving as a lecturer and instructor at Ohio State University and Mount Holyoke College, McNally joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1965. Until 1987 she was a member of the Art History Department; between 1987 and 2004 she was affiliated with the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies; and then from 2004 until her retirement in 2010 she was again a faculty member in the Department of Art History.

Over the course of her long career McNally was widely recognized as a dynamic educator and accomplished scholar. In addition to numerous publications on Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia—including her 1996 book The Architectural Ornament of Diocletian’s Palace at Split—her work engaged Coptic Egypt and the art and archaeology of monasticism, as well as Greek and Roman sculpture, mosaics, and pottery. She served as a member of the board of directors of the College Art Association and Mid-America Art History Society, and as a member of the advisory board of the Women’s Caucus for Art, the board of governors and other committees of the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Rome Prize jury of the American Academy in Rome.

McNally was a pathbreaking scholar and archaeologist—among the earliest women to make a name for herself in a field long dominated by men—and was an inspiring role model to young women in the field of Classical archaeology. She will be remembered as a passionate individual who lived her life in an utterly unique fashion, and will be missed by all who knew her.

Contributions in her honor can be made to the Sheila McNally Fellowship Fund (care of the Department of Art History), which supports graduate students pursuing the PhD in the art and archaeology of the late antiquity.

Filed under: Obituaries

David Rosand: In Memoriam

posted by September 19, 2014

Paula Carabell received her PhD from Columbia University in 1994 with a dissertation on the work of Michelangelo and Titian. She has published on Renaissance and contemporary art and currently teaches at Pratt Institute.

JDavid Rosand

David Rosand

It is with great sadness that I write that David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History Emeritus at Columbia University, died on August 8, 2014, at the age of 75. Known for his work on Titian and Veronese and for his breadth of knowledge in the field, he maintained a long association with Columbia, which he attended as both an undergraduate and a graduate student, subsequently joining the faculty of the Department of Art History and Archaeology in 1964, where he remained until he taught his last class in 2013. Rosand’s many students will remember him as a kind, generous, erudite, and elegant scholar who extended his expertise and help even to those whose areas of research went beyond his own field, the Italian Renaissance.

Rosand was, above all, a passionate and dedicated advocate of the art of Renaissance Venice, An active member of Save Venice, he served on the foundation’s board of directors from 1998 onward and acted as project director from 2003 until his death. So that future generations might also come to know and love Venice, he was instrumental in acquiring the residence of one his own mentors and colleagues, Michelangelo Murano, past director of the Ca’ d’Oro museum, which now serves as the Columbia University Center for Study in Venice at Casa Murano. This seems a fitting legacy for one who, as a graduate student, expressed concern to his teacher, the legendary Rudolf Wittkower, that Venice was sinking—to which Wittkower replied, “Tsk, tsk, it will be there as long as you need it.” And thankfully for all who heard him lecture or who read his work, so it was.

It was, of course, to the art of Titian that he dedicated the largest part of his career. As an undergraduate at Columbia in the 1950s, Rosand, who had been an editor and cartoonist for the school’s humor magazine the Jester, had considered becoming a painter and, as such, would have become part of the Abstract Expressionist movement. This, however, never came to pass despite encouragement and an offer of studio space from his undergraduate mentor. In an oft-repeated story, Rosand recalled that “the prospect of being alone with a canvas so frightened me that I came back and threw myself into art history.” It was, however, the idea of the brushstroke and the painterly gesture that ultimately stayed with him, and the transition from the New York School of painting to the art of the Serenissima proved to be a natural one. As the artist Willem de Kooning had pointed out, “flesh is the reason that oil paint was invented,” and Rosand explored this notion most thoroughly in the work of Titian. Standing with him once at the Titian, Prince of Painters exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, I marveled at how intensely he searched the surface of the canvas, how he seemed to perceive nuances of painterly gesture that it appeared only he could see. And indeed it was the interaction of oil paint and canvas, of pen and paper, of chisel and stone, to which Rosand always returned. His injunction to “always start with the object” proved to be sound advice in an age of art-historical scholarship that all too often turned to issues that seemed to eschew the very act of image making.

David Rosand

David Rosand at the Accadenua Gallery in Venice

Rosand was an eloquent writer who instilled in his students an appreciation for the poetic aspects of both word and image. Whether it was about Titian’s sensual poesia created for Philip II or the final Pietà that the artist had intended for his own tomb, Rosand made one aware of the deeper levels of meaning that adhered to the work itself, most notably, the pathos inherent in the art of painting.

It is to that sense of pathos that we return upon his passing. It is not only that we will be deprived of further publications like his many contributions to scholarly journals or such major works as Painting in Cinquecento Venice: Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto (1982), The Meaning of the Mark: Leonardo and Titian (1988), and Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State (2001), plus important monographs on Titian and Veronese, but to the man himself. To those who knew him, we will miss the way that Rosand seem to glide through the halls of Schermerhorn, how in the classroom his lectures seemed to meander in an evocative circle of images and ideas and then culminate in a burst of wisdom and insight, and, of course, his favorite call to arms, “coraggio,” when we began to question our own work.

Rosand was accorded many honors and earned the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates in 1997 and the Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum from the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia in 2000. He received recognition from such organizations as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy in Rome, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In May 2014, Rosand was awarded the degree of doctor of letters, honoris causa, from Columbia to recognize his many contributions to the field of art history and to the life of the university.

David Rosand, who died of cardiac amyloidosis, is survived by his wife Ellen Rosand, professor of music at Yale University; by his sons Jonathan, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Eric, a senior counterterrorism policy official at the US State Department; and by five grandsons. He will be greatly missed by the many whose lives he touched.

Filed under: Obituaries

John M. Rosenfield: In Memoriam

posted by September 18, 2014

Richard Edwards is professor emeritus of the history of Chinese art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

John M. Rosenfield

John M. Rosenfield

My recollections of John M. Rosenfield, one of the preeminent historians and curators of Asian Art who taught for decades at Harvard University, are vivid and convey my sense of loss upon learning of his death, on December 16, 2013, at the age of 89. We shared the same “vibrations” as we passed through the life of our careers, hopefully to our mutual profit but certainly to mine. His book on Chōgen’s wooden portraiture is beside me as I write these words.

Rosenfield was a consistently energetic force in our field from the time we were in graduate school together. Our view of the Far East was nurtured during the 1950s in the musty yet friendly basement environment of Harvard’s Rubell Library, where the books on Asian art were kept, under the guiding hand of Benjamin Rowland.

John had an extraordinary sense of personal relations. We will never forget how closely related he was to this personal approach. He was not just a professional. He was a great man because he was a warm-hearted person, one whom you could always meet on a personal level, a quality seldom found in those too wrapped up in their professional duties and accomplishments.

It goes without saying we shared an interest in the world of art, but in addition his memory is warmly related to activities of our whole family. Along with his intellectual skill, this made him a great man to us. We lived in the same rented house serially, at Teramachi Imadegawa-angaru Junenji-mai in Kyoto, not far from the Imperial Palace grounds, in 1958–59. Later the Rosenfields lived there in 1964, and we took up occupancy again in the summer of 1964 after their departure.

John reached out to my children and family, who remember how welcoming he and his wife Ella were when we stopped over in Los Angeles and stayed with them on our way to the Far East. He was especially helpful to my daughter, Joan, a college sophomore at the time (1968/69), who was apartment hunting in Boston having found a summer job there. She did not meet with immediate success, and as John drove her to various locations he reassured her that the “Perfect Pumpkin is somewhere,” instilling hope that the ideal apartment was just around the corner. If one is willing to share family matters with a friend, it isa clear indication of resilience in dealing with the inevitable problems of living.

His kindness to our family was an emanation of warmth from his own with Ella and his two children, Sarah and Paul Thomas. My lateness in expressing my thoughts in no way diminishes the shock and bereavement felt at having to relinquish such a constant friend and insightful scholar so superior in humanity. Would that he were still working among us.

Filed under: Obituaries

Sam Hunter: In Memoriam

posted by July 30, 2014

David E. Nathan is the author of this obituary.

Sam Hunter, the founding director of the Rose Art Museum, whose keen insights into the art of his day allowed him to build the museum’s acclaimed collection of modern and contemporary art, died on July 27, 2014, in Princeton, New Jersey. He was 91.

Financed by a $50,000 gift from Leon Mnuchin and his wife, Harriet Gevirtz-Mnuchin, Hunter made acquisitions in the early 1960s that established the Rose as a major force in the art world. The works he collected, masterpieces by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and other leading artists, form the core of the Rose’s beloved collection and continue to set the tone for the museum’s collecting and exhibition practices.

“Sam Hunter played an integral role in the early days of the Rose Art Museum, and his prescient purchases propelled the museum into the consciousness of the art world just a few years after its founding,” said Frederick M. Lawrence, president of Brandeis University. “The way in which he built the early collection, a discrete number of outstanding acquisitions, none for more than $5,000, is one of the iconic stories of the early years of Brandeis University. His impact on the Rose in particular and the university in general continues to this day.”

Hunter came to Brandeis in 1960 as director of the Poses Institute of Fine Arts, and shortly thereafter become the first director of the Rose. Organizers of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle approached him about curating an exhibition for the Fine Arts Pavilion. The resulting collection of 114 works from 87 artists, including many by artists whose work he would later purchase for the Rose, was subsequently displayed at Brandeis.

In late 1962, Mnuchin called from New York to announce that he and his wife had inherited $50,000, which they wished to donate to the Rose to fund a contemporary art collection. Hunter and Mnuchin immediately began exploring the galleries of New York, often with Robert Scull, a friend of Mnuchin and a prominent collector of Pop art.

“The guiding principle of the selection was individual quality rather than tendency,” Hunter wrote for the brochure accompanying the collection’s exhibition. “As a matter of policy, the collection focused on younger artists with only a token representation of the older generation…. Abstract Expressionism is the collection’s point of departure, taken at a point of subtle but significant transition.”

Although Hunter and Mnuchin set a limit of $5,000 per painting, they managed to gather early and important works by Claes Oldenburg, Jim Dine, Tom Wesselmann, James Rosenquist, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Marisol, Morris Louis, Johns, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, Warhol, and many others.

“It is very difficult to imagine a more significant founding director than Sam Hunter has proved to be,” said Christopher Bedford, the Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose. “Just as Brandeis established its academic reputation with incredible rapidity, so Sam made sure the same happened to the Rose through the acquisitions he made and the exhibitions he organized. The status we enjoy today is in large part due to his vision in the 1960s.”

Bedford also pointed out that Hunter was a towering figure in both curatorial and academic spheres. “He had one foot in the world of museums and one foot in the world of scholarship, a model for how the Rose thinks of itself today,” he said. “He was as much a director/curator as he was a scholar, and that dual commitment continues to represent the Rose in the work we do today.”

Upon learning of Hunter’s death, Bedford decided to name the Rose’s newly established emerging artists fund in his memory. “The fund lacked a name,” Bedford said, “and today it became very apparent what the name of the fund should be. It seems incongruous to apply this term today, but the Gevirtz-Mnuchin fund was an emerging artists fund in the early 1960s: Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, and Ellsworth Kelly were the emerging artists of their day. It’s only just that we would perpetuate Hunter’s legacy with a fund that boasts his name.”

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Hunter graduated from Williams College in 1943. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946, rising to the rank of lieutenant junior grade and receiving five battle stars.

Hunter began his professional art career in 1947, when he joined the New York Times as an art critic for a two-year stint. He studied at the University of Florence through the Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship, earning a certificate of studies in 1951. He spent a year as an editor with art publisher Harry N. Abrams before serving as editor of Arts magazine.

In 1955, Hunter was appointed associate professor of art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, but left in 1956 to become curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Two years later, he moved to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts as chief curator and acting director.

After leaving Brandeis in 1965, he was appointed director of the Jewish Museum and lectured as a visiting professor at Cornell University. In 1969, he became professor of art history at Princeton University and curator of modern art at the university’s art museum. He retired from Princeton as professor emeritus in 1991.

Hunter is survived by his wife, Maïa; their son, Harry; two daughters, Emmy and Alexa, from his previous marriage to Edys Merrill; and one grandchild, Isabella. A funeral service was scheduled for July 30 in the Princeton University Chapel.

Filed under: Obituaries

Recent Deaths in the Arts

posted by July 25, 2014

In its periodic list of obituaries, CAA recognizes the lives and achievements of the following artists, historians, teachers, curators, dealers, philanthropists, and others whose work has significantly influenced the visual arts. Of special note is a text on a distinguished scholar of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Russian art, Grigorii Iurevich Sternin.

  • Roger Ackling, a British sculptor who was a contemporary of Richard Long, Hamish Fulton, and other artists who graduated from Saint Martins School of Art in the 1960s, died on June 5, 2014. He was 66 years old
  • Jack Agüeros, a writer, activist, and the former director of El Museo del Barrio in New York, died on May 4, 2014. He was 79
  • Eppie Archuleta, a New Mexican weaver who worked in fiber and fabric, passed away on April 11, 2014, age 92. In 1985 she received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts
  • Gordon Bennett, a pioneering Australian artist whose work challenged race, power, history, and social conventions, died on June 3, 2014. He was 58 years old
  • Tito Enrique Canepa Jiménez, a Dominican painter who lived and worked in New York after immigrating there in the 1930s, died on February 11, 2014. He was 97
  • Lynne Cohen, an award-winning Canadian photographer who had taught at the University of Ottawa from 1974 to 2005, passed away on May 12, 2014. She was 69
  • Deborah Deery, an art educator and academic administrator at Moore College of Art and Design, died on August 19, 2013. She was 49 years old
  • Joseph Doyle, an artist and teacher based in Houston, Texas, died on July 9, 2014, at age 54
  • Lee MacCormick Edwards, a philanthropist as well as a lecturer in art history, a photographer, and an author, passed away on April 19, 2014. She was 76
  • John Clovis Fontaine, chairman emeritus for both the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, died on September 23, 2013. He was 81 years old
  • Edythe Goodridge, a curator and the former director of visual arts for the Canada Council, died on June 4, 2014. She was 77
  • Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi art dealer who secretly hoarded millions of dollars’ worth of modern art for decades, died on May 6, 2014. He was 81
  • Anne Hollander, a celebrated author and a historian of fashion and costume, died on July 6, 2014. She was 83 years old
  • Hans Hollein, an Austrian architect and educator who won the Pritzker Prize in 1985, passed away on April 24, 2014. He was 80
  • On Kawara, a Conceptual artist and painter whose work addressed the passage of time, died in late June 2014. He was 81 years old
  • Maria Lassnig, an Austrian figurative painter whose retrospective is on view at MoMA PS1, died on May 6, 2014, age 94
  • Stanley Marsh, an eccentric Texan millionare who commissioned the Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, died on June 17, 2014. He was 76
  • Cynthia Mills, the executive editor of the Smithsonian Institution’s journal American Art, died on May 1, 2014. She was 67 years old
  • Robert Olsen, a Los Angeles–based painter of outdoor urban scenes, died on April 14, 2014. He was 44.
  • Jennifer Wynne Reeves, an abstract painter based in New York, passed away on June 22, 2014. She was 51
  • Nan Rosenthal, a curator for the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died on April 27, 2014, at the age of 76
  • Jerry Rothman, a Los Angeles–based sculptor who was a member of a ceramics movement called Otis Clay, died on June 5, 2014, at age 80
  • Frederic Schwartz, an architect, city planner, and the designer of several memorials for September 11, died on April 28, 2014. He was 63
  • Claude Simard, a cofounder and director of Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, died on June 24, 2014, at the age of 57. Simard was also an artist and performer
  • Grigorii Iurevich Sternin, a distinguished scholar of nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Russian art, died on November 23, 2013, age 86. CAA has published a special text on Sternin
  • Massimi Vignelli, an Italian-born graphic designer who created the 1970s map for New York’s subway system, died on May 27, 2014. He was 83
  • Ultra Violet, an artist, actor, author, and Andy Warhol superstar, passed away on June 14, 2014. She was 78
  • Melvin J. Wachowiak Jr., a senior conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Conservation Institute, died on May 28, 2014. He was 56
  • Khin Maung Yin, an influential modernist Burmese artist who painted colorful portraits, passed away on June 10, 2014, age 76

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 next list.

Filed under: Obituaries, People in the News

Grigorii Iurevich Sternin: In Memoriam

posted by July 11, 2014

Alison Hilton is Wright Family Professor of Art History and director of the MA program in art and museum studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and Irina Karasik works at the State Russian Museum.

Grigorii Iurevich Sternin, a distinguished scholar of Russian nineteenth and early twentieth century art, chief scientific officer and senior researcher at the Institute of Art History of the Ministry of Culture, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts, died in Moscow on November 23, 2013. He was 86.

Sternin was among the most influential art historians of his generation, those who began their academic careers just after World War II, during the Cold War. Born in 1927, Sternin studied art history at Moscow State University, graduating in 1950, and continued his postgraduate work in the Department of Russian Art under the eminent professor A. A. Fedorov-Davydov. After defending his candidate’s dissertation on Russian book illustration of the 1840s in 1953, Sternin worked at one of Moscow’s leading art-history publishing houses, Iskusstvo (Art). He became a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR in 1957.

Sternin’s career is most closely connected with the Institute of Art History of the Ministry of Culture in Moscow, where he worked until the end of his life. He served as research scholar and head of the Sector on Fine Arts and Architecture of the Peoples of the USSR between 1962 and 1975, a difficult period marked by signs of liberalization that were not sustained, when artists, writers, and administrators of arts institutions faced obstacles that are hard to appreciate today. Perhaps as a way of finding a perspective on his own times, Sternin became interested in what made artistic innovation happen in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and this was the subject of his doctoral dissertation. “Artistic Life in Russia at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries” explored the many elements, some crucial and some tangential, that made up “artistic culture” in a period of complex political and social change. Sternin earned his doctorate in 1973 (in Russia this signifies substantial scholarly achievement beyond the first, candidate’s degree; it is roughly equivalent to full professorship).

Much of Sternin’s research continued to probe the interrelationships among the arts and other aspects of Russian culture. His publications, more than two hundred books and articles, are noted for their breadth of conception and their scrupulous attention to detail; many include chronicles of events with citations from artists’ writings and contemporary periodicals. Among his major works are: Khudozhestvennaia Zhizn’ Rossii na rubezhe XIX – XX vekov (Artistic Life in Russia at the Turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, 1970); Khudozhestvennaia zhizn’ Rossii nachala XX veka (Artistic Life in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, 1976); Vzaimosviaz’ iskusstv v khudozhestvennom razvitii vtoroi poloviny XIX veka; ideinye printsipy, strukturnye osobennosti (Interconnections of the arts in the artistic evolution of the second half of the 19th century; conceptual principles, structural peculiarities, edited volume, 1982); Russkaia khudozhestvennaia kul’tura vtoroi poloviny XIX – nachala XX veka (Russian Artistic Culture of the second half of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, 1984); Ilia Repin (with Elena Kirillina and others, 1985, 2011); Russkii modern (Russian Art Nouveau, with Elena Borisova, 1988); Khudozestvennaia Zhizn’ Rossii 1900-1910-kh godov (Artistic Life in Russia 1900–1910s, 1991); Khudozhestvennaia Zhizn’ Rossii vtoroi poloviny XIХ veka, 70-80-e gody (Artistic life in Russia in the second half of the 19th century: the 1870s-80s, 1997); Obrazy i liudi Serebrianogo veka (Images and People of the Silver Age, coauthored with L. S. Aleshina, 2002); Khudozhestvennaia Zhizn Rossii 30-40-kh godov 19-ogo veka (Artistic Life in Russia in the 1830s–40s, 2005), Dva veka: Ocherki russkoi khudozhestvennoi kul’tury (Two Centuries: Sketches of Russian Artistic Culture, 2007), Ot Repina do Grigor’eva (From Repin to Grigoriev, 2009). Sternin was an author and editor of the authoritative Istoriia Russkogo Iskusstva (History of Russian Art published by the Academy of Sciences, 1952–1964), specifically volume 10 on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; he was closely involved in the conception, editing, and writing of a new History of Russian Art (22 volumes planned) and was the editor of volume 14 on the first third of the nineteenth century, published in 2011.

The Russian scholarly community recognized Sternin’s contributions. He was named an Honored Artist of Russia in 1994, elected a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1997, and designated a Laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2004. At the memorial service at the Institute of Art History in November 2013, colleagues and former students recalled his constant attention to human relationships, both as part of his approach to art history and in his daily life as a teacher and mentor. Generous in providing books, articles, and advice to his students and even to visiting researchers, he was also an astute critic. He could identify problems of interpretation and actively seek ways of finding solutions, without ever dictating or imposing his views. Sternin’s empathetic responsiveness to colleagues and students will be missed as much as his brilliance as a scholar.

He is survived by his wife, the art historian Liliia Stepanovna Aleshina.

Filed under: Obituaries

Frederick Horowitz: In Memoriam

posted by April 23, 2014

Elaine Wilson is an artist and a former colleague of the deceased at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Frederick Horowitz, an artist, art educator, writer, and passionate champion of the work and teaching philosophy of Josef Albers, died on September 12, 2013, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He was 75 years old.

Horowitz was born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, and attended Yale University, earning a BA in English in 1960 and a BFA in painting in 1962. His life was forever changed when he enrolled in Albers’s drawing class. Although Horowitz later received an MFA in painting at the University of Michigan in 1964, his contact with Albers at Yale was defining. In the book Josef Albers: To Open Eyes (New York: Phaidon, 2006), coauthored with Brenda Danilowitz, Horowitz recounts the comment Albers made about one of his drawings of the textural quality of a log of wood:

In his crit of one day’s results, Albers singled out a drawing in which repeated black strokes of a soft pencil had jabbed a hole in the newsprint. “Yah,” he exclaimed with delight, and only half ironically, “this boy is getting into it!”

The 12 x 18 inch newsprint pad in which Horowitz did many of the exercises for this class is preserved today, signaling the importance he placed on his experience in this course.

Horowitz spent thirty-five years teaching drawing, design, color, and art appreciation at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. He was widely respected in southeast Michigan as a teacher with authority and integrity. He mentored countless students who went on to become artists, transferring to four-year art programs around the country. Many of his students were older individuals whose lives were deeply enriched by his courses.

At Washtenaw Horowitz taught the art-appreciation course and wrote More Than You See: A Guide to Art (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985) for use in it, while also widening the book’s scope for a broader audience. More Than You See departs from many textbooks for art appreciation and art history: instead of presenting artworks in a chronological order or grouping them by “ism,” it presents a series of questions about looking at a wide range of paintings and objects without necessarily providing the answers. These questions continually challenge readers to think for themselves.

One chapter, titled “Looking over the Artist’s Shoulder,” compares and contrasts an Italian Renaissance painting, Guercino’s Esther before Ahasuerus (1639) and the preparatory drawings for it, with a miniature painting from India and its preparatory drawing. Another chapter, “Reading Paintings,” examines the formal characteristics of several works of art. Horowitz was especially interested in process and in the artist’s choices. By including works from the museums and galleries close to his school, such as the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts, he tied the book to the experience of his students whom he regularly took to these institutions to see the real thing.

In 1992 Horowitz began thinking about writing a book on Albers’s teaching. Brenda Danilowitz, chief curator at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut, worked with him and coauthored the book. Horowitz interviewed numerous artists who had studied with Albers, asking them about the teacher’s presence in the classroom and studio and about the impact and import of the particular projects he assigned. Research at the archives of the Bauhaus, Black Mountain College, Yale University, and the Albers Foundation yielded a rich trove of material, which Horowitz and Danilowitz eventually worked into Josef Albers: To Open Eyes. This groundbreaking book has already changed the teaching of numerous younger artists and art professors, reinvigorating their work in the studio classroom.

While writing To Open Eyes, Horowitz began two courses—on design and on color—at Washtenaw Community College, putting into practice the ideas he was acquiring from his research. His own experience taking the color class at Yale with Albers’s own student, Sewell “Si” Sillman, meant that he was well prepared.

As a teacher Horowitz was disciplined and demanding, a tough but kind critic and grader. He required a great deal from his students, but when he saw a need to mentor and foster the talent of particular individuals he went above and beyond his regular duties to help them. This approach led to developing personal relationships that would last well beyond their time at Washtenaw.

Horowitz’s mentoring did not stop with students. He routinely worked with the part-time faculty that he recruited to teach many sections of the studio-art and art-appreciation classes, discussing with them course assignments and curricula, student behavior, grading policy, and even their students’ artwork. He created an atmosphere of cooperation and collegiality within the college’s art area that made it a laboratory for good teaching, a unique place for the overworked and underpaid instructors to work in. He was honest and generous with everyone, while holding all to his own high standards.

After retiring from Washtenaw Community College in 2003, Horowitz continued to lecture around the country and give workshops on Albers and on color and design (including presentations at the Foundations in Art: Theory and Education conference in 1997 and 2003 and at Black Mountain College Museum and Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina.) Abroad he taught workshops at art schools in Mexico City and Jerusalem.

Horowitz’s recent research at the Albers Foundation included close examinations of several Homage to the Square paintings. He developed his thoughts into a manuscript, now awaiting publication. This text—unlike any other of which I know about this body of work—looks closely at how Albers’s color choices interact with each other in specific ways; it also describes poetically their effect after extended looking. Most people don’t spend the amount of time in front of these works to have the experience Horowitz recounts, but hopefully more of them will. In addition, Horowitz speaks about Albers’s color course in the new digital format of the artist’s influential book Interaction of Color (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. He was also part of a new online art-appreciation course being developed at Washtenaw Community College.

At a memorial celebration of Horowitz’s life at Washtenaw in late October 2013, family, friends, and colleagues remembered him as deeply humane, curious, warm, devoted to his family, funny, and generous with his time, intellect, and heart. He leaves behind a trail of people who loved him and a host of younger artists who, thanks to his inspiration, are devoted to teaching well.

Filed under: Obituaries