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‘Enigmatic’ artist dies

Acclaimed minimalist painter, illustrator and sculptor Richard Artschwager ’44 died in Albany, N.Y., Feb. 9 at age 89, five days after a Whitney Museum of American Art career retrospective, Richard Artschwager!, closed.

Despite his interest in art, Artschwager studied mathematics and chemistry at Cornell. He was drafted into the Army in 1944, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and finished his degree in 1948.

The Whitney’s catalog of the exhibition notes:

“For nearly 60 years, Richard Artschwager (b. 1923) has undertaken an unrelenting investigation of art’s ability to mediate contemporary experience and perception. Although his work, which includes sculpture, painting, prints and drawing, is often characterized as having elements of Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptual Art, his practice defies easy categorization and his oeuvre is not entirely understood. In Richard Artschwager! the breadth of the artist’s idealistic, diverse work and unconventional materials, such as Formica, rubberized hair and Celotex, is fully illustrated and explored for the first time.”

According to the Whitney website: “Richard Artschwager’s first solo exhibition was in 1965 at the age of 42 at Leo Castelli Gallery. Since then his work has been shown throughout the world … This exhibition is a comprehensive review of Artschwager’s remarkable creative exploration of the mediums of sculpture, painting and drawing and the first retrospective exhibition of Artschwager’s work since one organized at the Whitney in 1988.”

The Artschwager retrospective opens at the UCLA Hammer Museum in June.


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