[Norman Bluhm's obituary appears on page 31.]
Nicholas Krushenick, 70, New York painter known for his Day-Glo colored, hard-edge abstractions that critics often referred to as "Abstract Pop," died in Manhattan of liver cancer. He attended the Art Students League as well as Hans Hofmann's school. During the 1950s, he produced collages of abstracted figures, which he included in his first solo exhibition at the Camino Gallery in 1957. The following year he co-founded, along with Ronald Bladen, Al Held, George Sugarman, Edward Clark and others, the Brata Gallery, where he showed until 1960. In the early '60s, Krushenick refined a bold, super-graphic style of abstraction that related to the Pop imagery of then emerging artists Warhol and Lichtenstein. He held a series of well-received solo shows at Pace Gallery in New York and in several museums in the U.S. and Europe. In the late '60s and early '70s, many museums in this country and abroad acquired his work. Gradually, however, Krushenick's painting receded from public view. He continued to paint, but ceased to exhibit from 1976 until a 1990 show at the Daniel Newburg Gallery in New York. From 1977 until 1991 he taught at the University of Maryland. His most recent New York exhibition was at the Mitchell Algus Gallery in 1997, and his work is included in "Pop Abstraction," a traveling show organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Gino De Dominicis, 51, artist, died Nov. 29 at his home in Rome. Born in Ancona, De Dominicis became a controversial and often mystifying figure in Italian art after debuting at Rome's Galleria L'Attico in 1969. He was highly regarded as a conceptual artist whose sculptures, videos, paintings, drawings and installations investigate time, beauty, scientific knowledge, extraterrestrial life and immortality. The works range in tone from deadpan humor, as when banal figures of speech are literalized in object form, to the lyricism of metal-red installations intended to be experienced as astral charts. De Dominicis set himself firmly against the machinery of the art world, rarely allowing his work to be reproduced, telephoning endless "corrections" to art journals and favoring only a handful of galleries in Italy, notably Emilio Mazzoli in Modena, where he had his last show in 1998. Even the news of his death was suspect, for years earlier he had reported his own demise in the mock conclusion to a biographical essay. Seemingly above all else, De Dominicis delighted in scandalizing the Venice Biennale: for his first appearance in 1972 he included a young man with Down's syndrome as an element in an installation; in 1993 he announced that his tempera-and-gold-on-panel paintings could not be considered for Biennale prizes; in 1995 he publicly declined to appear at all. In the end, De Dominicis's most enduring creation may be himself, a secretive, black-clad provocateur who invigorated Italian art with gestures of defiance, poetic insight and wit.
Hughie Lee-Smith, 83, figurative painter, died Feb. 23 in Albuquerque. He is best known for his crisply rendered canvases that usually have spare, stagelike settings or sometimes show mysterious figures in a bleak landscape. During the Depression, he worked for the WPA in Ohio, where he produced works in a Social Realist style. He moved to New York in 1958 and taught at the Art Students League for 15 years. He became an associate member of the National Academy of Design in 1963 and a full member in 1967. He was the second black member to be named, after Henry Ossawa Tanner. Lee-Smith's first retrospective was in 1988 at the New Jersey State Museum. It traveled to the Studio Museum in Harlem and other venues. In 1997, another retrospective was mounted at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art in Maine. He had a solo show at June Kelly Gallery in 1994, the same year he was commissioned to paint the official City Hall portrait of then mayor David Dinkins.
Leon Arkus, 83, director emeritus of the Carnegie Museum of Art, died Jan. 29 in Pittsburgh. He joined the Carnegie staff in 1954 as assistant director, became associate director in 1962, and assumed the top post six years later. He was instrumental in developing the Sarah Mellon Scaife Gallery, an addition to the Carnegie Institute, and greatly increased the museum's holdings in American, French Impressionist and contemporary works. He organized three Carnegie International exhibitions, as well as shows of Alberto Burri, van Gogh and "The Art of Black Africa." He retired from the museum in 1980.
--"Artworld" is compiled by Stephanie Cash and David Ebony
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