Collector couple opt to sell $43m Picasso trove via London galleryDecember 28, 2023
A brush with… Martin Clark, director, Camden Art CentreDecember 28, 2023
Artists of note who departed in 2023 included a clutch of one-off characters including the highly respected sculptor Phyllida Barlowwho died in March. Barlow attended the Chelsea College of Art in London (1960-63) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1963-66). She taught at both schools and was Professor of Fine Art and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the latter until 2009 where her students included Rachel Whiteread, Douglas Gordon and Tacita Dean. Her gallery, Hauser & Wirth said that “over the course of almost 60 years, she embraced humble materials to create sculpture and installations that defied the rules of gravity, balance and symmetry.”
Vivan Sundaram, one of India’s leading artists and a champion of the country’s post-independence visual culture, also died in March. “As a leading cultural organiser, Sundaram revelled in creative alliances, and this trait never dulled as he spearheaded collaborative models for studio work, discourse and activism,” wrote Natasha Ginwala.
In June, Françoise Gilot, a tireless artist whose output spanned more than 80 years and defied simple categorisation—and efforts to define her merely as a footnote in the story of her former lover Pablo Picasso—died in New York. She was 101. “I want to conform only to my own self and the deep desires that motivate me as an artist, and I couldn’t care less about whether the others are going that route or not,” Gilot told WHYY’s Terry Gross in an interview in 1988.
Brice Marden, the abstract painter known most widely for his long, winding calligraphic mark making that stood out against monochromatic backgrounds, died in August. Marden died in his home in Tivoli, New York, after years of living with cancer. He was 84 years old. “Brice Marden was one of our greatest American artists, whose achievement in continuing and extending the tradition of painting has long been recognised and celebrated the world over,” said his dealer Larry Gagosian in a statement.
Other notable figures include Fernando Botero, the Colombian painter and sculptor known for his highly stylised and whimsically rotund figures, who died aged 91 in September. “My popularity has to do with the divorce between modern art, where everything is obscure, and the viewer who often feels he needs a professor to tell them whether it’s good or not,” Botero told The Los Angeles Times in 2012. “I believe a painting has to talk directly to the viewer, with composition, colour and design, without a professor to explain it.”
Ida Applebroog, who often depicted women nude in domestic settings or as disembodied genitals, died in October aged 93. Her first film, It’s No Use, Alberto (1978), was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1978. Although Applebroog made pioneering contributions to the feminist art movement, she resented the categorisation. “I have a real problem with feminism and art—this is something I’ve always objected to,” she said in an interview with Art21 in 2005.
Joe Tilson, the leading UK Pop artist, died aged 95 in November while US artist Richard Hunt, Arte Povera pioneer Giovanni Anselmoand the visionary performance artist Pope.L, known for his Crawl performances, all passed away this month.
Emily Fisher Landau, a renowned contemporary art collector, died in March in Palm Beach, Florida, at age 102. Landau was best known to the public as the creator of the Fisher Landau Center for Art, a repurposed parachute factory in Long Island City, Queens, which displayed pieces from her vast collection of over 1,500 works spanning 1960 to the 2000s. Working closely with Pace Gallery founder Arne Glimcher, Landau and Fisher amassed a trove of art by modern art legends including Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Louise Nevelson and Paul Klee between 1969 and 1976.
Barry Humphries was better known as the stage comic characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson but in addition to his stellar career as a writer, actor, and television performer and host, Humphries was a champion of museums, libraries and the arts in general, a collector of contemporary art, an enthusiastic amateur painter, the co-creator of the influential 1960s comic strip Barry McKenzie, and a prodigious connoisseur and acquirer of fin-de-siècle artists and authors. He died in April aged 89.
In August, Claude Ruiz Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s youngest son, died at the age of 76. As the long-term manager of his father’s estate, Claude was the holder of the Picasso copyright. He was also instrumental in organising Picasso Celebration 1973-2023, a compendium of 50 exhibitions of Picasso’s work, shown in cultural institutions across Europe and the US over the course of 2023 to mark 50 years since Pablo Picasso’s death. The management of one of the world’s most valuable art collections has now passed to Paloma Ruiz Picasso, the last of Pablo Picasso’s four children.
In November, the influential art collector, curator, publisher and writer Harald Falckenberg, who loaned his important collection of contemporary art to the Deichtorhallen museum in Hamburg, died at the age of 80. Falckenberg assembled one of Germany’s most important private collections, with around 2,400 works.
Other significant figures
Other key art world personalities who also shuffled off this mortal coil this year include the philanthropist Myriam Ullens who supported her husband in a pioneering project to build the first contemporary art museum in China, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, which opened in Beijing in 2007; Angela Flowers, one of London’s most influential Modern and contemporary art dealers, who died in August aged 90; and the influential French curator Vincent Honoré, who put on shows at Tate Modern and Palais de Tokyo. Francesca Gavin, the newly appointed artistic director of the Vienna Contemporary fair, posted on Instagram: “You [Vincent] were always an incredible beacon of enthusiasm and humour and intelligence.”