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Fine Art Deaths of 2011 - A Year End Appraisal of the Visual Arts

Celebrating the Lives of Arts Professionals


Updated April 05, 2012

End of the year recaps often include the obituaries of notable figures. We here at Fine Art do not wish to be morbid, but to rather take a fond look at the various arts professionals who enriched our world by their vision and devotion to the fine arts.

In the spirit of celebrating these creative lives of artists, art historians, curators, art critics and other arts professionals, let’s take a moment to applaud these generous souls and their passionate contributions to the visual arts.

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

B. H. Friedman, who quit his job in real estate became recognized for his novels and art criticism, especially his early biography of Jackson Pollock, died on January 4th at the age of 84.

Mozambican Painter Malangatana Ngwenya died on January 5th at the age of 74 in Matosinhos, Portugal. He was well-known in Africa for his politically inspired dream-like canvases.

Tom Lubbock, who was the chief art critic of The Independent died at the age of 53.

Oleg Grabar, a renowned Islamic art historian died January 8th at the age of 81. He was also a member of the international advisory committee at Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

Seoul-based art curator Wonil Rhee died January 11 at the age of 50. His survey exhibition "Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves," at the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM) in 2007, was widely recognized for introducing contemporary Asian art to Western audiences.

Museum director Françoise Cachin, who helped establish the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, died February 4th at the age of 74.

Honolulu-based ceramicist Toshiko Takaezu died March 9 at the age of 88.

The highly esteemed art historian Leo Steinberg, died March 13th at the age of 90. His art criticism and essays were extremely influential during the period of American modernism.

Sculptor John McCracken died April 8th at the age of 76. He was known for combining his West Coast sensibility to Minimalist art.

Gallery owner Robert Miller died June 22nd at the age of 72. His gallery sponsored the art of Louise Bourgeois and Robert Mapplethorpe.

India’s famous artist Maqbool Fida Husain died at the age of 95. Even though his paintings of nude Hindu goddesses commanded millions of dollars, Husain’s work was too controversial that he went into exile leaving India in 2006, and becoming a Qatar national in 2010.

Norma Lyon, the "butter cow lady," known for her life-sized sculptures of cows and Elvis carved from butter died at the age of 81.

Adolfas Mekas, the avant-garde filmmaker and brother to Jonas, founder of Anthology Films, died at the age of 85.

Sculptor Stephen De Staebler died on May 13 at the age of 78. He was recognized for his mysterious figures.

New Zealand-based artist and curator James Earnest Vivieaere died on June 3 at the age of 63. He helped bring recognition to the New Zealand and Pacific Islands arts community.

Eddy G. Nicholson, a “colorful collector of art and furniture collecting” died on June 16 in California at the age of 73.

Charles Buckley the director of New Hampshire’s Currier Museum of Art from 1955 to 1964 died on June 26th.

Renowned abstract painter Cy Twombly died June 28 in Rome at the age of 83.

Figurative painter Lucian Freud renowned for both his deep, psychological portraits and his messy personal life died at the age of 88.

Gilbert 'Magu' Lujan died in July at the age of 70. He was part of the Chicano Art Movement and known for vibrant figurative paintings.

Museum curator Hardy George, died July 10. He was chief curator emeritus for the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

British abstract painter John Hoyland, died on July 31 aged 76.

Malaysian artist and National Art Laureate Datuk Syed Ahmad Jamal Syed Jamil Sahil died a few days from his 82nd birthday. He was also known for his work as an academic and art activist.

Gallerist Jeanette Ingberman, co-founder of Exit Art, in NYC, died August 24 at the age of 59.

Painter and printmaker June Wayne, who founded the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in 1960 in Los Angeles, died in August at the age of 93.

Alaskan artist John Hoover, who gained recognition for his Native-style artwork, died in September at the age of 91.

Underground filmmaker George Kuchar died in September at the age of 69. Wildly influential, he taught at the San Francisco Art Institute for 30 years and is renowned for his no-budget films and videos.

British Pop artist Richard Hamilton died in September at the age of 89. His famous 1956 collaged poster of a body builder holding a huge lollipop and a reclining nude surrounded by modern appliances symbolized the Pop Art Movement.

Museum textile curator Mary Hunt Kahlenberg, the former head of LACMA's textile and costume department died in November at the age of 71.

Sculptor John Chamberlain known for his artworks made from welded car parts died December 21 at the age of 84.

Pop artist James Rizzi died on December 26 at the age of 61.

Abstract painter Helen Frankenthaler died December 27 at the age of 83.

R.I.P. It is with heartfelt thanks to appreciate and commemorate the contributions these artists and other art experts have made to enrich our world.

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