Categotry Archives: Artists


J. Kirk Varnedoe


Categories: Artists, Education, Writers/Editors

kvarnedoe.jpgJ. Kirk Varnedoe, one of the most influential art curators in the world, died on Aug. 16 from colon cancer. He was 57.
Varnedoe graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art history from Williams College and a master’s from Stanford University. He received his doctorate at 26 when he turned in a catalog for a show he curated on Auguste Rodin as his dissertation.
While teaching at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in 1988, Varnedoe was hired as the chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, a job that is considered to be one of the most important positions in the modern-art world. He was only 42 years old.
Varnedoe spent 14 years at MOMA, where he exhibited the work of Vincent Van Gogh, Paola Antonelli, Joshua Siegel, Jasper Johns and Jackson Pollack. He also published 18 books on art, including “Modern Contemporary: Art at MoMA Since 1980.”
In 2002, Varnedoe began teaching the history of art at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study. This past spring, he served as the Andrew W. Mellon Lecturer in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Varnedoe was married to sculptor Elyn Zimmerman.


William Dargie


Categories: Artists

Sir William Dargie was once given the tough and prestigious assignment of painting the official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The British monarch posed several times for Dargie at Buckingham Palace in 1954. The portrait he painted currently hangs in Australia’s Parliament House, while prints appear in dozens of schools and government buildings and on Australian naturalization papers.
Dargie was best known for painting pictures of famous people, like Gough Whitlam, Sir Henry Bolte and Dame Patty Menzies. He won the Archibald Prize, Australia’s most prestigious portrait award, eight times, and received an Order of the British Empire in 1959. Ten years later, he was made a Commander of the British Empire.
Dargie died of natural causes on July 26. He was 91.


Nicolás Guillén Landrián


Categories: Artists

Nicolás Guillén Landrián, a painter and Cuban filmmaker who was once accused of trying to assassinate Fidel Castro, died on July 22 from pancreatic cancer. He was 65.
Although Guillén directed 18 documentaries and won several awards at film festivals in Europe, he was expelled from Cuba’s Institute of Cinematography for making a movie that mocked the Cuban dictator. In the late 1960s, Guillén was accused of plotting to kill Castro. He was imprisoned for two years, then confined for nearly a decade to mental institutions where he was subjected to electroshock therapy.
Guillén left Cuba in 1989, moved to South Florida and became a painter. His artwork was exhibited at the former Cuban Museum of Art to sell-out crowds. But when he ran out of money, Guillén refused to take an ordinary job. Instead, he and his wife, Grettel Alfonso, ended up living on the streets. They bounced around the country, struggling to survive in dilapidated hotels.
Guillén eventually returned to Miami to produce the documentary, “Inside Downtown,” a 30-minute look at homelessness. It was released last year.


Harold Altman


Categories: Artists, Education

haltman.jpgHarold Altman, an artist whose portraits and still life lithographs were displayed all over the world, died on July 28. Cause of death was not released. He was 79.
Altman studied at the Cooper Union Art School and the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris. Although he lived and worked in a 19th century frame church in central Pennsylvania, Altman spent at least four months a year doing etchings and paintings in France.
Altman’s work was featured in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. He had hundreds of one-man shows, and commissions of his artwork hang in the New York Hilton and the Galleria Prova in Tokyo.
Altman taught at Penn State University, and was the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Phil Ceccola


Categories: Artists

Phil Ceccola, a rock photographer who took pictures of everyone from Elvis to the Boss, died on July 13 of brain cancer. He was 48.
Ceccola taught himself how to use a camera. When he was 12 years old, he launched his career as a rock photographer by shooting pictures of a Temptations concert in Atlantic City.
In the 1970s, Ceccola worked as the managing editor of the alternative newspaper, the Drummer, which granted him backstage access to most concerts. He toured extensively with Elvis Presley, and took 20,000 pictures of Bruce Springsteen, including the image that appeared on the cover of the album, “18 Tracks.” A collection of Ceccola’s Springsteen photos will be published in paperback this fall.
Other musicians caught by Ceccola’s lens include Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffett, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Waits and Elton John. For the past three years, while Ceccola fought a brain tumor, he also toured with Rick Springfield.

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