Ritzi Jacobi, 80, a European pioneer of contemporary textile and fiber art best known for her monumental tapestries and soft sculptures, died Tuesday at her home in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Jacobi’s vast textile creations were made from a variety of fiber-based materials ranging from cotton to goat hair. Although her work bore some resemblance to traditional tapestries, she pushed form into modernist, abstract realms. She “has had a huge impact on the field of crafts and art,” said Jane Milosch, a former curator of contemporary crafts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Claes Oldenburg, 93, a Swedish-born artist whose light-hearted caricatures of everyday things — such as monumental depictions of lipstick and binoculars and “soft sculptures” of hamburgers and ice cream cones — made him a leading force in pop art, died Monday at his Manhattan home . The cause was complications after a fall.
No pop artist – not even his contemporaries Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein – has produced a public work that can rival him. Oldenburg’s outdoor installations included a gigantic steel and fiberglass typewriter eraser located in front of Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture; a giant cherry balanced on a spoon in the sculpture garden at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; a monumental steel clothespin in Center Square in Philadelphia; a 20-ton baseball bat in front of the Chicago Social Security Administration building; and a 38-foot-tall flashlight at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Oldenburg and his late wife Coosje van Bruggen have collaborated on more than 40 projects.
jessie duarte, 68, a senior adviser to Nelson Mandela before he became South Africa’s first black president and himself a militant political figure who tussled with the media over allegations of corruption within the ruling African National Congress party, died in Johannesburg on July 17. An ANC statement announced the death and said Duarte was on sick leave for cancer treatment.
Hobie Billingsley, 95, an Ohio State University national diving champion who made the Indiana University diving team a powerhouse during his three decades as a coach, died July 16 at a hospice center in Bloomington, Indiana. Billingsley formed a legion of Olympic divers, trained a generation of instructors and became, in the words of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, “one of the greatest and most popular dive coaches in the world”.
Michael Krepon, 75, a leading voice for nuclear non-proliferation who for decades reached policymakers on Capitol Hill and activists and academics worldwide, died July 16 at his home in North Garden, Virginia. Krepon was a prolific writer and lecturer, co-founder of the Washington-based think tank Stimson Center, and later a “diplomat scholar” at the University of Virginia. At Stimson, Krepon had open channels to policymakers and negotiators to help shape landmark arms control agreements in the 1990s.
Gerald Sparkel, 77, who unequivocally vowed to “do whatever the law permits” to defend the mob bosses, corrupt politicians and other villains he represented as an accomplished criminal attorney for more than four decades, died July 16 in Manhattan from the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease. His list of clients included John Gotti, Anthony Provenzano, Joseph Gambino and Salvatore Gravano.
Lourdes Grobet, 81, a Mexican photographer who trained her camera on the raw, high-flying sport of lucha libre, demystifying one of Mexico’s national pastimes with images that captured professional wrestlers in the ring and at home – arms raised in triumph, feeding a hungry baby, posing for a family portrait (while all wearing their signature wrestling masks) – died at her home in Mexico City on July 15.
On Twitter, Mexico’s culture ministry called Grobet “one of the greatest exponents of photographic art in Mexico,” adding that “her work depicts urban culture from the perspective of socially excluded groups.”
Patrick J Michaels, 72, a climatologist turned lightning rod in climate change debates, reviled by activists and revered by skeptics for using his academic pedigree to challenge the broad scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of global warming, died on April 15 July at his home in Washington, DC
Michaels, who served for decades as a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and as Virginia state climatologist, has been one of the most prominent dissenters in policy and policy discussions on climate change. “I believe in man-made climate change,” he told the Washington Post in 2006.
Eugenio Scalfari, 98, an elder statesman of Italian journalism who, as the founder and longtime editor-in-chief of La Repubblica, one of the country’s leading newspapers, had shaped political debate and civic life in Italy for decades, died in Rome on July 14. La Repubblica, the left-leaning daily that Scalfari founded with publisher Carlo Caracciolo in 1976, became a budding competitor to the Corriere della Sera, at times outperforming the more staid Milanese daily with its flashy tabloid format and modern sensibility.
In addition to expanded coverage of politics and current affairs, Scalfari eschewed the antiquated, academic style of newspaper book reviews and instead offered lively discussions of culture and literature. He recruited contributors including Italo Calvino, a journalist, novelist and essayist who was one of the pre-eminent Italian writers of the 20th century.
Muriel Engelmann, 101, one of the last surviving Army nurses serving near the front lines during World War II, died June 30 at a boarding and nursing home in Laguna Niguel, California.
While American soldiers fought in the Belgian Ardennes to repel a German offensive, Engelman and her fellow sisters worked in snow, ice and ankle-deep mud, tending to wounded GIs during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Though she feared what the Germans might do to her if she were captured—she was one of only two Jewish nurses at the hospital, with an “H” for Hebrew on her dog tag—she took a realistic stance: “What will be, will be.” She went on to write a tongue-in-cheek memoir, Mission Accomplished: Stop the Clock (2008).