June 14, 2024

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New Yorker Art Critic Peter Schjeldahl Dies at 80

New Yorker Art Critic Peter Schjeldahl Dies at 80

Peter Schjeldahl (picture by Gilbert King courtesy the New Yorker)

Peter Schjeldahl, the New Yorker’s art critic and a half-century-long prose stylist of New York City’s art scene, died these days, October 21 at the age of 80.

Whilst Schjeldahl’s lead to of demise has not been officially verified, he was identified with lung cancer at 77. In his fragmentary, freewheeling essay “The Artwork of Dying,” published in the New Yorker in 2019, Schjeldahl recounted how he was after awarded a Guggenheim grant to produce a memoir but never ever done the endeavor. “I really don’t experience exciting,” he mentioned just. “The Art of Dying” was an try to remedy this failure, recounting his beginnings in criticism in 1965, his entanglement with the St. Mark’s Church and Reduced East Facet poetry scene of the 1960s and ‘70s, his sexual associations, his drug use and alcoholism, and his at any time-evolving partnership with dying and loss of life. Citing “the grim reaper” as his muse,” he likened himself to “a digicam situated nowhere and getting in each and every final detail of the pulsating environment.”

Born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1942, Schjeldahl grew up in Minnesota, the place he analyzed English at Carleton Higher education but did not finish his degree. He commenced his vocation at the Jersey Journal in Jersey Metropolis right after chilly crafting to “papers in small cities in close proximity to big ones.” Adhering to a transient stint composing for ArtNews, Schjeldahl labored as an art critic at the Village Voice right before joining the New Yorker as a personnel author in 1998. 

Peter Schjeldahl photographed by Gil Roth in 2021 for the Digital Recollections Exhibit (courtesy of Gil Roth and the Virtual Memories Show © 2021)

With minor official schooling in art heritage or observe, Schjeldahl dove into artwork criticism merely from a passion for artwork, made in aspect though overseas in Paris in the early 1960s. “Most of what I know in a scholarly way about artwork I uncovered on deadlines,” he afterwards wrote, “to sound as if I knew what I was speaking about — as, very little by small, I did.”

About his lengthy job, Schjeldahl championed residing artists doing the job throughout a range of genres and topic substance, like Faith Ringgold, Richard Serra, Amy Sherald, Bruce Nauman, and many other people, though turning a important eye to others, like Cézanne and KAWS. Schjeldahl kept composing essays and assessments until eventually his remaining days, which includes a panegyric on Wolfgang Tillmans’s clearly show at the Museum of Modern-day Art released just two weeks ahead of his death.

Schjeldahl also wrote poetry ahead of artwork criticism eventually overtook his poetic observe. In his quick time at Carleton, he co-launched a poetry journal that was an exponent of the then-up to date New York University. In 1978, he printed a assortment entitled Considering the fact that 1964: New and Picked Poems, drawing from a number of volumes of his perform.

Schjeldahl is survived by his spouse, Donnie Brooke Alderson, and their daughter, Ada Calhoun, who earlier this yr posted Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me, a memoir that equally recounts her complex partnership with her father and seeks to comprehensive a biography of poet Frank O’Hara that he by no means concluded. 

Crafting in Hyperallergic about Schjeldahl’s 2019 selection Incredibly hot, Cold, Significant, Mild, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018, critic David Carrier mentioned: “Schjeldahl is a lover of great painterly artwork in an era that is generally hostile to that concern. And so, for me, his best achievement is that he did not grow to be a curmudgeon like Hilton Kramer, or defeat a retreat to concentration on the previous rather, he ongoing to evaluate prolifically even as much present-day art gets definitely alien to his sensibility.”