William Agee, chief curator and art educator, dies at 86

Disturbed by his admiration for the summary painter, William C. Agee Sam Francisgenerally not given the load it deserved as a result of he labored with vivid colours fairly than darkish tones.

“We by no means realized methods to learn the language of colour,” Mr. Agee advised The Press Enterprise of Riverdale, California, in 1999, when he curated a retrospective of Frances at Geffen Up to date on the Museum of Up to date Artwork in Los Angeles. “We take a look at a coloured canvas and assume, ‘Oh, that is a properly patterned canvas’ or ‘Oh, that is so fairly.'” “However we do not take it critically.”

Agee advised the newspaper that Sam Francis, who died of most cancers in 1994, had “been criticized for what he was doing as empty and emotionally skinny”.

“That is completely unfair,” he mentioned. “You take a look at the final work he made, after he was identified with most cancers and had simply misplaced some good pals, and also you see him utilizing colour like a base materials, like lava flowing from his soul.”

This anecdote illustrates one of many the explanation why Mr. Agee is among the many most revered curators, students, and educators within the artwork world, significantly because it pertains to American Modernism.

Pamela N. Cobb, who studied beneath Mr. Agee as a graduate scholar at Hunter Faculty and have become a curator herself, writes in Memorial.

Mr. Agee died on December 24 in Middletown, Connecticut, on the age of 86.

His spouse, Eletta (Taylor) Agee, mentioned it was pneumonia.

Mr. Agee started to draw consideration as a curator within the Nineteen Sixties, particularly with a 1968 exhibition on the Whitney Museum of American Artwork of sculptural containers and different works by the artist. Donald Judd; This was the artist’s “first main solo museum present,” in line with the Judd Basis. Walter Parker, writing in The St.

“He additionally put collectively a catalog that makes Judd an essential idea originator in fashionable area design,” added Mr. Parker.

In 1970, Mr. Agee took his experience to the West Coast, turning into Director of Exhibitions and Collections on the Pasadena Museum of Artwork in California and taking up as its Director the next 12 months. In 1974 he grew to become director of the Museum of Nice Arts, Houston, a job he held till 1982.

In his capabilities on the Museum, and afterwards as an impartial curator, Mr. Agee has mounted or assisted within the erection of many essential exhibitions and has written or contributed to the accompanying catalogs.

However Mr. Agee was simply as influential as a instructor. He joined Hunter Faculty as Professor of Fashionable American Artwork in 1990 and stayed for almost 1 / 4 of a century earlier than retiring in 2014.

“His lengthy curatorial expertise and the insights he gained by working carefully with artistic endeavors fueled his teachings,” the school mentioned in a memorial commentary, and his strategy helped heart the concept of ​​exhibitions as an important side of historic artwork. Analysis.”

Ms. Cobb mentioned Mr. Agee had a radical fashion as an educator and lecturer.

She mentioned, “Learning an artist or a portray with Peale may appear to be a terrific journey, and he usually addressed his viewers as ‘we’, implying that they have been with him in the hunt for additional understanding.”

William Cameron Agee was born on September 26, 1936 in Manhattan. His father, additionally named William, was a lawyer, and his mom, Elsie (Burges) Agee, was an government assistant to Ann Morgan, daughter of J.P. Morgan.

When he was a younger little one, the household moved from New York Metropolis to the suburbs of Westchester County, New York. Mr. Agee attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, the place he was captain of the basketball group and, upon his commencement in 1955, was awarded the Yale Bowl for his athletic and scholastic achievements.

He spent a while within the faculty’s Addison Gallery, which contained a notable assortment of American artwork, and located his area of curiosity.

“That was an important and formative expertise in my life,” he mentioned. 1989 Oral Historical past Registered at College of California, Los Angeles. A long time later, he would help in lots of exhibitions organized by Addison or by drawing on her assortment.

Mr. Agee studied artwork historical past at Princeton College, incomes a bachelor’s diploma there in 1960. Then, after a 12 months touring to Europe to get a more in-depth take a look at the artwork there, he earned a grasp’s diploma in artwork historical past from Yale College in 1963.

In 1964 and 1965 he directed a examine of the American Artwork Archives on the New Deal and the humanities. In 1966 he joined the Whitney as co-curator, the place along with the Judd Present he curated an exhibition on Summary Expressionism Conrad Marca Riley.

In 1968 he moved to the Museum of Fashionable Artwork as an assistant curator, spending two years there earlier than taking a job in Pasadena. Take part in exhibitions or catalogs in Patrick Henry BruceRaymond Parker Barbara MorganAnd Fairfield PorterAnd Stuart Davisand Arthur Dove, and plenty of others, usually assist re-evaluate these artists and their significance.

“Agee has dropped at his work as curator, author, and educator a boundless love of look,” Ann Temkin, Senior Curator of Portray and Sculpture on the Museum of Fashionable Artwork, mentioned by way of electronic mail, “and a frank, clear, and infectious method of sharing.” what he noticed.”

Along with his spouse, whom he married in 1966, Mr. Agee is survived by a daughter, Sintra Agee; Son of Matthew. and three grandchildren. Lived in Chester, Connecticut.

Mr. Agee’s nice work was Fashionable Artwork in America 1908-1968, printed in 2016. Writing in The Wall Avenue Journal, critic Terry Tecotte referred to as it “the rarity of rarity, a scholarly historical past tenacious however not whimsical earlier than.” A veteran museum curator who infuses each web page with unique pondering.”

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