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Notable Fine Art Deaths of 2012

Celebrating the Lives of Arts Professionals


Updated May 29, 2013

End of the year recaps often include the obituaries of well-known figures, as a means to honor their memories. We here at Fine Art fondly look back at the various arts professionals who enriched our world by their passion, vision and devotion to art.

Their achievements also serve as a cultural history of the 20th and 21st centuries, reflecting great societal changes, as this list includes many firsts achieved by women, like Eve Arnold being one of the first women to be accepted into Magnum.

In addition, several of these notable arts professionals have lived long productive lives, with many of these artists creating well into their 80s, 90s and even 100s; thus, showing how a life in the arts can keep you young and vital for many decades.

Let’s celebrate the creative lives of these renowned artists, art historians, curators, art critics, photographers, architects and other arts professionals, who have made our world richer by their generous contributions to the visual arts.

The following chronological list was based on online news stories. Click on the link for the original source.

Photojournalist Eve Arnold was one of the first women to join Magnum Photography Agency in the 1950s and was well-known for her candid photos of Marilyn Monroe. She died on January 4th at age 99.

Artist Jan Groover died January 1st in Montpon-Ménestérol, France at the age of 68. She was noted for her platinum-palladium photographs of formal still life pictures of fruit and kitchen utensils.

Experimental filmmaker Robert Nelson, who combined wit and spontaneity to avant-garde moviemaking, died on January 9 in California, age 81.

Los Angeles contemporary artist Mike Kelley, whose suicide at age 57 shocked the artworld, was an extremely influential artist for California’s burgeoning artscene.

Artist and poet Dorothea Tanning died at the age of 101. She was part of the Surrealist art movement, had a long-lasting marriage with artist Max Ernst, and published her first novel at the age of 94.

Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies, known for his mystical abstract paintings, died in Barcelona at age 88.

Controversial antiquities dealer Robert Hecht Jr., who sold the Euphronios krater to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for $1 million in 1972, died at age 92.

Video game artist Adam Adamowicz, who died on February 9 at age 43, painted the lush fantasy worlds of the top role-playing games Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Fashion and fine art photographer Lillian Bassman, died in Manhattan in February at age 94. She first gained success as a fashion photographer in the 1940s and ‘50s, and then in the 1990s became renowned for her fine art photography.

Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent’s director Robert Hoozee died at the age of 62. He was an expert in British art.

Pioneering Los Angeles ceramic artist Ken Price died February 24 at his home in Taos, New Mexico, at the age of 77.

Artist Anita Steckel, who achieved acclaim in her 70s for her erotic works, died on March 16 in Manhattan at age 82.

Influential art critic Hilton Kramer, who wrote for The New York Times, and The New Criterion, which he edited from its founding in 1982, died March 27 in Harpswell, Maine at age 84.

Master printmaker Mauricio Lasansky died age 97 on April 2 at his home in Iowa City. He was renowned for his large-scale prints and his skill with various printmaking techniques.

Sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, whose work commented on Civil Rights, died April 2, at age 96, at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

'Painter of Light' Thomas Kinkade, died April 6, age 54, at his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though he was derided by critics as mass-producing kitsch, his romantic landscapes of glowing cottages nestled in snowy environs sold widely making him a wealthy and popular artist.

Artist and esteemed art historian John Golding died April 9 at age 82. He was renowned for his research of Modernism, and most notably for his book Cubism: A History and an Analysis, 1907-1914.

Swiss artist David Weiss, half of the artist-duo Fischli/Weiss, died April 27, age 66. The duo were recognized for their inventive, playful works such as The Sausage Photographs and the chemical reaction film: The Way Things Go (1987).

Peter Cull, medical artist to St Bartholomew's hospital in London from 1961 until his retirement in 1993, died aged 84.

Artist, curator and Boston art historian Dorothy Abbott Thompson died May 16 in her Lincoln home, Massachusetts at age 93.

New York sculptor Barton Lidice Benes, who used everyday materials in his work, died May 30 at age 69.

Abstract Expressionist painter Paul Jenkins died June 9 in Manhattan at the age of 88.

Marine painter Willard Bond, who specialized in yacht races which verged on the abstract, died May 19 in Yountville, California at the age of 85.

Popular artist LeRoy Neiman, died June 20th in Manhattan at the age of 91. He was known for his brightly hued images of sporting events and Playboy magazine illustrations.

Gallerist Ivan Karp died at his home in Charlotteville, New York, on June 27 at the age of 86. As director of the Leo Castelli Gallery from 1959–1969, he helped develop the careers of the Pop Artists. He also helped establish Soho’s artscene when he opened his own gallery, the O.K. Harris Gallery in 1969.

Retired postal clerk Herbert Vogel died July 22 at the age of 89 in Manhattan. Vogel, along with his wife, a Brooklyn librarian, and on a tight budget, managed to collect 5,000 Modern art works in their one-bedroom apartment, and then donated it all to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

Austrian artist Franz West who created huge papier-mâché and aluminum sculptures, has died in Vienna in July at the age of 65.

Painter Denyse Thomasos, who created floating cities, died in New York at the age of 47.

American abstract painter Paul Jenkins, died aged 88. He is known for his paintings which seem like forceful storms.

Experimental French director Chris Marker died at the age of 91. He is best known for his post-apocalyptic film La Jetée.

Austrian architect Walter Pichler, who later became a reclusive artist, died on July 16 at his home in Austria at age 75.

The Archibald Prize-winning Australian artist Adam Cullen died at the age of 47. He is known for his portraits of high-profile Australians.

Esteemed art critic Robert Hughes died aged 74, and is best known for his two books on art, The Shock of the New and Nothing If Not Critical.

Parisian gallerist Denise René died July 9. She was 99. She became a gallerist in 1945 in German-occupied Paris.

Martin E. Segal, known as one of NYC’s leading cultural figures, died August 5 at his home in Manhattan at age 96. He was chairman of Lincoln Center from 1981 to 1986 and also the founding president of the Film Society of Lincoln Center from 1968 to 1978.

Photographer Martine Franck, who was also the second wife of Henri Cartier-Bresson, died in Paris on Aug. 16 at the age of 74. She was a longtime member of Magnum Photos and co-founder and president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation.

Soviet realist painter Geli Mikhailovic Korzhev, born 1925,was a prominent 20th century Russian painter, who died in August.

Architectural photographer Pedro E. Guerrero, who worked closely with Frank Lloyd Wright beginning in 1939, died Sept 13 at his home in Florence, Arizona. He was 95.

Michael Stanley, the director of Modern Art Oxford, who was a rising art star in London, died September 21.

Canadian philanthropist Walter Carsen,who was one of the greatest sponsors of the arts in Canada, died Oct. 8 at age 100.

Menno Meewis, museum director of the Middelheimmuseum in Antwerp, died in Canada on 17 October 2012 at age 58.

Conceptual artist Michael Asher, was known for his playful, yet cerebral installations, died October 15 at his home in Los Angeles, age 69.

Eminent cultural historian Jacques Barzun, who was known for his encyclopedic knowledge in the humanities, died aged 104.

Belgian painter Raoul De Keyser, died on Oct. 5 in Deinze, near Ghent. He was 82.

Visionary architect Lebbeus Woods, known for his designs of imaginary worlds, died October 30 in New York, aged 72.

Architect Gae Aulenti, renowned for transforming old buildings into modern museums, including Paris' Musee d'Orsay and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, died October 31 at her home in Milan. She was 84.

British sculptor William Turnbull, inspired by primitive forms, has died at age 90.

Artist Will Barnet, died at age 101 on Nov. 13 in New York City. He is renowned for his realistic and austere renderings of his family and friends.

French poet and art critic Jacques Dupin, who influenced both the avant-garde literary world and the commercial art market, died on Oct. 27 at his home in Paris at age 85.

Famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died December 5 at the age of 104. He is renowned for designing Brasilia and Rio's Sambadrome.

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