Remembering The Arts And Culture Figures Who Passed In 2020

From Olivia de Havilland to Diana Rigg to Ann Reinking; from Kirk Douglas to Sean Connery to Chadwick Boseman; from Elizabeth Wurtzel to Jan Morris to John le Carré; from Vera Lynn to Kenny Rogers to Little Richard; from Terrence McNally to Larry Kramer; from Krzysztof Penderecki to Ennio Morricone; from Julian Bream to Leon Fleisher to Ida Haendel to Ivry Gitlis; from Christo to Luchida Hurtado; and from Sumner Redstone to Alex Trebek. (Click here for a more complete, bulleted list sorted by month.) – BBC

David Medalla, Sculptor Who Created ‘Cloud Canyons’, Dead At 78

“[He] was something of a cult figure until recently, with his pioneering sculptures of the 1960s mainly known to European curators and historians, who have featured them in major biennials and surveys over the past decade. But a growing fan base has also come to recognize the artist, who … is [now] best known for his Cloud Canyons sculptures, which feature looping organic-looking forms that emit soap bubbles. Medalla labeled these works ‘auto-creative art’.” – ARTnews

Evan Hopkins Turner, Former Director Of Philadelphia And Cleveland Museums Of Art, Dead At 93

Following a Ph.D. in art history at Harvard and five years at the helm of Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, he came to the Philadelphia Museum (1964-78), where he created new departments for American and 20th-century art and for photography and hired several important curators (notably Anne d’Harnoncourt, who eventually became director herself). In Cleveland (1983-93), he transformed the museum from a respected but staid institution into a regional powerhouse that helped fuel cultural tourism in the then-struggling city. – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Fou Ts’ong, China’s First Internationally Known Classical Pianist, Dead Of COVID At 86

Born to a pair of French literature scholars who were later driven to suicide during the Cultural Revolution, Fou went to Warsaw to study at age 19 and two years later won a prize in the Chopin Competition. Not long after, he escaped to western Europe and eventually settled in London, where he taught and maintained an international concert career. – BBC

Tony Rice, Virtuoso Guitarist Who Brought Jazz Stylings To Bluegrass, Dead At 69

“[He] collaborated with Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Garcia and Béla Fleck, and, with mandolinist David Grisman, defined the synthesis of bluegrass, jazz and chamber music known as ‘dawg music.'” As one critic put it, “If you play bluegrass guitar, you have to come to terms with Rice the way portrait photographers have to come to terms with [Richard] Avedon.” – The Washington Post

Barbara Rose, Art Critic And Art Historian Who Helped Define Art Of The 20th Century, 84

Rose wrote the 1965 essay “ABC Art,” which helped to define and codify Minimalism. She went on to defy the essay (she loathed its title, something The New York Times noted in its obit), defend the genre of painting, write the textbook American Art Since 1900, and teach, write reviews, produce documentary films, and champion both formalism and individual women artists. – Artforum

Fanny Waterman, Who Presided Over The Leeds Piano Competition For Decades, 100

She was the driving co-founder of the competition, which succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. “The idea of presenting an international music competition in 1960s Leeds, a gritty industrial city in northern England, seemed risky. But Ms. Waterman, a Leeds native who learned perseverance from her poor Russian immigrant father, believed in the vitality of her hometown and was certain she could draw support for the venture.” – The New York Times

Barry Lopez, Award Winning And Influential Environmental Writer, 75

Lopez wrote Arctic Dreams (for which he won the National Book Award) and many other works that deeply synthesized reporting and essay form and science writing. He had recently lost land, housing, and archives to one of Oregon’s dreadful Labor Day fires. “Lopez was still being lauded in his final days, with an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and with the literary organization Sun Valley Writers’ Conference announcing this week that it had awarded him its inaugural Writer in the World Prize, which recognizes and honors a writer whose work expresses a ‘rare combination of literary talent and moral imagination, helping us to better understand the world and our place in it.'” – Oregonian