News, notes and follow-ups

Category: artists

Artist Corneille, of the Cobra movement, dies at 88

Corneille Corneille, the last surviving Dutch member of an influential European art movement , has died at age 88.

Corneille -- Guillaume Cornelis Beverloo -- died Sunday in Paris, according to the Cobra Museum.

He was part of a small group that formed the Cobra movement in a Paris cafe in 1948 and which the museum says “developed a totally new poetic painting style.”

The Cobra movement, named for the cities Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam, included Danish, Belgian and Dutch artists such as Carl-Henning Pedersen and Karel Appel.

Corneille’s spontaneous Expressionist paintings, influenced by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Vincent van Gogh, often featured women and animals such as cats and birds.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Corneille. Credit: Dermic / Wikimedia Commons

One year ago: Karla Kuskin

Karla-kuskin Karla Kuskin was a children's book author and illustrator who had a celebrated read-aloud writing style that reflected a rare understanding of a child's perspective. She died one year ago at age 77.

Kuskin first achieved fame with "Roar and More," a 1956 book about animals and the noises they make that was her senior project at Yale.

She could "think herself into a child's skin" by using memories of her childhood as inspiration, Margaret F. Maxwell wrote in the "St. James Guide to Children's Writers" (1999). "That she has been able to distill these memories into simple yet lighthearted verses . . . is Kuskin's lasting talent."

Her flowing, simple and readable style is reflected in an early work, "James and the Rain" (1957), which Publishers Weekly called "one of the best read-aloud stories" for children:

James pressed his nose against the pane
and saw a million drops of rain.
The earth was wet,
the sky was gray,
it looked like it would rain all day.

For more, read Karla Kuskin's obituary in The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Karla Kuskin. 

One year ago: Dina Gottliebova Babbitt

Babbit Dina Gottliebova Babbitt never got her pictures back.

Babbitt, a Holocaust survivor who died one year ago, fought for more than 30 years to retrieve portraits that she was forced to paint of fellow prisoners while she was imprisoned at Auschwitz concentration camp. She credited the paintings, which are kept at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, for saving her life.

A young art student when she was deported to Auschwitz, Babbitt drew a "Snow White" scene on a wall of a children's barracks to help soothe the youngsters. Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who performed hideous experiments on prisoners, heard of her talents and ordered her to paint portraits as mementos for his racist theories.

Babbitt said she told Mengele she would rather die if her mother was not also let out of a group of Jews scheduled to be gassed. Her mother was allowed to live. Her father and her fiance died elsewhere in the Holocaust.

After World War II, Babbitt went to Paris and became an assistant to American cartoonist Art Babbitt, one of Disney's "Snow White" animators. They married and moved to Hollywood and later divorced. She worked in animation at various Hollywood studios.

Then, out of the blue in 1973, the Auschwitz museum notified her that it had the paintings.

Despite her long campaign to reclaim the paintings, the museum has insisted that artifacts proving Holocaust history should be in their original setting.

For more, read Dina Gottliebova Babbitt's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Dina Gottliebova Babbitt. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times

One year ago: Merce Cunningham

Cunningham Pioneering choreographer Merce Cunningham "changed dance, and, in his continual need for innovative scores, he helped change music as well," wrote Mark Swed, The Times' music critic. "He always wanted to be one step ahead of everyone else so he could learn something new."

Cunningham, who died a year ago at age 90, joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1939 and formed his own company in 1953.

"Every piece is so different in its dynamics and space and variety of language," Mikhail Baryshnikov told Newsday in 1999. "No words can describe my admiration and fascination with this man."

His news obituary appeared in The Times on July 28, 2009.

--Keith Thursby

Photo: Merce Cunningham in 2009. Credit: Associated Press

One year ago: Otto Heino

The image of the poor, starving artist didn't apply to master potter Otto Heino, who died one year ago. His handmade vessels, which blended Scandinavian modernism and Japanese folk pottery, could go for more than $25,000 a piece and made him a multimillionaire.

Heino had an international reputation for robust yet beautiful wheel-thrown stoneware with artistically applied glazes that included glossy cobalt blues, silky reds and raspy earth tones.

In the mid-1990s, he brought to life a lost-to-the-ages buttery yellow Chinese glaze that made him especially famous in Asia. Although he said he was offered millions for the formula, he never sold it.

Jo Lauria, coauthor of the ceramics book "Color and Fire," wrote this about Heino's pottery:

"He had a macho relationship with clay, and it was a badge of honor to be able to throw huge pieces, but they were always functional, emphasizing the sensuality of the glaze, the way in which it catches the light and invites you to touch it."

Heino was the fifth of 12 children born to his Finnish parents. He was raised on a New Hampshire farm and for five years served in the Army Air Forces as a fighter plane crew chief and a B-17 gunner. He found his love for pottery at a studio in England while he was on furlough from the military.

For more about the master potter who was a symbol of the mid-century California studio crafts movement, read Heino's obituary in The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Otto Heino with the organic, modern pottery pieces he produced in his Ojai studio. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Memorial at MOCA planned for artist Craig Kauffman [Updated]


[Updated at 11:48 a.m.: An earlier version of the post incorrectly said that the service would be open to the public. It will be a private service.]

A private memorial service for artist Craig Kauffman will held on July 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, according to Jay Belloli, who organized a show of Kauffman's work in 2008 at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.

Kauffman, known for his bubble-like plastic wall pieces, died May 9 at 78.

-- Claire Noland

Top photo: Craig Kauffman in 1998. Credit: Rob Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Bottom photo: "Untitled Wall Relief (cast by the artist from the irreparably damaged 'Untitled Wall Relief,' 1967), 2008" Credit: Frank Lloyd Gallery


German artist Sigmar Polke dies at 69


Sigmar Polke, a German artist who along with Gerhard Richter launched the capitalist realism movement in 1963 as a response to pop art, died Thursday in Cologne, Germany, following an illness, according to the Michael Werner Gallery in London. He was 69.

Nicholas Serota, director of London's Tate Modern art gallery, said Polke's "sublimely beautiful paintings" often carried a "tough message about society and its values" and were enormously influential on younger generations of artists.

More later at

-- Associated Press

Photo: German artist Sigmar Polke in front of one of his paintings before a 2005 exhibition in the Kunsthaus Zuerich in Switzerland. Credit: EPA / Alessandro Della Bella.

Artist Louise Bourgeois dies at 98

Louise Bourgeois, an internationally revered artist whose intensely personal work was inspired by psychological conflict, feminist consciousness and a fertile imagination, has died. She was 98.

Bourgeois died Monday at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan after suffering a heart attack on Saturday, said Wendy Williams, managing director of the Louise Bourgeois Studio in New York.

Known for sculptures of giant spiders, women with extra breasts, double-headed penises and rooms that resonate with loneliness and dread, Bourgeois was a fearless creative force whose work could be disturbing and perversely witty. Although she got little attention from the art world until her seventh decade, she became its grand dame, constantly in demand and showered with honors.

Bourgeois often left viewers with questions about the meaning of her work, but made no secret of painful experiences that shaped it. The spiders — including "Maman," a 35-foot-tall piece commissioned for the inauguration of the Tate Gallery for Modern Art in London in 2000 — are a tribute to her beloved mother, whom she described as a pillar of inner strength who was "clever, patient and neat as a spider."

Dad, whom the artist perceived an a domineering philanderer, didn't fare so well. In "The Destruction of the Father" — a 1974 installation that appeared at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008-2009 in a traveling retrospective — Bourgeois re-created a youthful fantasy of her father being dismembered and devoured by his family.

"She smashed a taboo," said Christopher Knight, The Times' art critic. "Bourgeois was the first Modern artist to expose the emotional depth and power of domestic subject matter. Before her, male artists had only nibbled around the edges, and women just weren't allowed."

We'll have a complete news obituary soon at

--Times staff reports

Frank Frazetta, renowned for sci-fi and fantasy art, dies at 82


Pioneering fantasy artist Frank Frazetta died Monday morning at a hospital in Fort Myers, Fla., his manager said. He was 82.

Manager Rob Pistella said Frazetta died Monday, a day after suffering a stroke. He said Frazetta had been out to dinner with his daughters Sunday before falling ill.

Frazetta is renowned for his sci-fi and fantasy art. He created covers and illustrations for more than 150 books and comic books, including Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan.

Daughter Heidi Frazetta Grabin said she was hopeful that a dispute among siblings over their father's artwork had been resolved through recent negotiations.

Son Frank Frazetta was charged in December with using a backhoe to break into the artist's museum in the Poconos and trying to remove dozens of paintings.

More later at

-- Associated Press

Photo: Frank Frazetta with one of his paintings in 1994. Credit: David W. Coulter / Pocono Record/Associated Press

David Levine, illustrator for New York Review of Books (Updated)


David Levine, an artist and caricaturist whose work illustrated the New York Review of Books for more than 40 years, died today. He was 83.

New York Review editor Robert Silvers confirmed Levine's death. Levine died at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan of prostate cancer and complications from other ailments.

His drawings of politicians, celebrities, writers and historical figures typically had large heads and exaggerated features. See a gallery of Levine's caricatures here.

In one well-known image from 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson pulls up his shirt to reveal the scar from his gallbladder operation, shaped like the map of Vietnam.

In addition to the New York Review of Books starting in 1963, Levine’s work appeared in Esquire, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker and other publications.

[Updated at 1:05 p.m.: Levine’s drawings -- Albert Einstein with a nimbus of hair; Richard Nixon, all 5 o’clock shadow and ski-slope nose -- defined the look of the New York Review, which sold them on calendars and T-shirts. From a few months after it began publishing in 1963 until Levine was diagnosed with the eye disease macular degeneration in 2006, the artist contributed more than 3,800 drawings to the Review, which has continued to illustrate its articles with old Levine drawings.

Silvers, who called Levine "the greatest caricaturist of his time," said the artist would read the article he was illustrating with great attention, and then "a drawing would emerge."

"He brought to the caricature a brilliance and a depth and an insight into character that was unmatched," Silvers said.

Levine also exhibited paintings, many depicting New York scenes such as Coney Island.

His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Library of Congress and England’s National Portrait Gallery, among other institutions.

John Updike, who was drawn several times by Levine, once called the artist "one of America’s assets. In a confusing time, he bears witness. In a shoddy time, he does good work."

Levine was born in Brooklyn in 1926 and studied at schools including the Brooklyn Museum of Art School, the Pratt Institute and Temple University’s Tyler School of Art.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy Hayes; son Matthew, of Westport, Conn.; daughter Eve, of Manhattan; stepdaughter Nancy Rommelmann, of Portland, Ore.; stepson Christopher Rommelmann, of Brooklyn; and two grandchildren.]

-- Associated Press

Photo: An illustration of caricaturist David Levine. Credit: Roman Genn / For The Times

Looking back at 2009


We've put together a package of stories and photos looking back at some of the notable people who died in 2009. You can view it here.

We would like to know your memories of the personalities and newsmakers who died in 2009.

-- Keith Thursby

Photo: Michael Jackson at the 1995 Video Music Awards. Credit: Getty Images

Jeanne-Claude and Christo's yellow umbrellas


Back in the fall of 1991, the hillsides on both sides of Interstate 5 through the Tejon Pass were dotted with yellow umbrellas. The huge nylon canopies were part of a joint installation with another exhibit featuring blue umbrellas in Japan, both conceived by the artist Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, who died Wednesday in New York after a brain aneurysm. She was 74.

Unfortunately, on Oct. 26, 1991, sudden high winds caused one of the 485-pound yellow umbrellas to blow over and fall on Lori Keevil-Mathews of Camarillo, killing her. The artists ordered the installation dismantled after the accident.

Thousands of people flocked to the Tejon Pass to see the umbrellas. Were you one of them? What did you think of them?

Update: Click here to see more photos of the artists and their work.

-- Claire Noland

Photo: Aerial view of Christo and Jeanne-Claude's umbrella project near Gorman, Calif., in October 1991. Credit: Los Angeles Times


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Profiles of military personnel killed in Iraq
and Afghanistan.


Lives in Pictures »

Search Paid Obituaries »

First Name
Last Name
Powered by ©

Yesterday's Obituaries