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

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

“We by no means realized the way to learn the language of shade,” 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 have a look at a coloured canvas and suppose, ‘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 have a look at the final work he made, after he was identified with most cancers and had simply misplaced some good associates, and also you see him utilizing shade like a base materials, like lava flowing from his soul.”

This anecdote illustrates one of many 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 underneath Mr. Agee as a graduate pupil at Hunter School 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 Sixties, particularly with a 1968 exhibition on the Whitney Museum of American Artwork of sculptural packing containers and different works by the artist. Donald Judd; This was the artist’s “first main solo museum present,” based on the Judd Basis. Walter Parker, writing in The St.

“He additionally put collectively a catalog that makes Judd an necessary idea originator in trendy 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 yr. In 1974 he turned director of the Museum of Superb Arts, Houston, a job he held till 1982.

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

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

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

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

She mentioned, “Learning an artist or a portray with Peale may seem to be an excellent journey, and he usually addressed his viewers as ‘we’, implying that they had 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 baby, 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 subject 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. Many years 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 yr touring to Europe to get a better have 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 Trendy 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 lots of others, usually assist re-evaluate these artists and their significance.

“Agee has delivered to his work as curator, author, and educator a boundless love of look,” Ann Temkin, Senior Curator of Portray and Sculpture on the Museum of Trendy Artwork, mentioned through 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 Trendy Artwork in America 1908-1968, printed in 2016. Writing in The Wall Road 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 considering.”

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