Yale Bulletin and Calendar

September 13, 2002|Volume 31, Number 2














Painter and former art school dean Andrew Forge dies

Andrew Forge
A memorial service will be held later this fall for painter and writer Andrew Forge, professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Art, who died on Sept. 4 in New Milford, Connecticut, at the age of 78.

A native of Kent, England, Professor Forge taught at the Slade School at University College, London, and at Goldsmith's College, London University, before coming to the United States. He taught at Cooper Union in New York and the New York Studio School, where he was an associate dean before joining the Yale faculty in 1975 as dean and professor of the School of Art. He served as dean until 1983 and was appointed the William Leffingwell Professor of Painting in 1991. He retired from the University in 1994.

"Respected and admired as painter, critic, teacher and dean, Andrew Forge was one of the shaping influences of the School of Art in his generation, and a gracious and generous colleague," said President Richard C. Levin. "The Yale community mourns his passing."

In his earlier work, Professor Forge was especially concerned with reconciling his perception of the world with paint on canvas, recounted The New York Times in the artist's obituary. His focus on realistically conveying what he perceived was influenced by his study with the English painter William Coldstream at the Camberwell School of Art in London. Mr. Forge also counted among his mentors Kenneth Martin, Victor Pasmore and W.H. Auden.

After what The New York Times described as a "creative crisis" in 1963, Professor Forge transformed his work, using two basic units in his paintings: tiny dots and short, thin dashes of paint he called sticks.

"He applied those elements meticulously, by the thousands and with continual adjustments of shape, color, orientation and density until they coalesced into luminous, optically unstable fields," noted The New York Times. "These fields occasionally gave hints of landscapes or figures, but were primarily concerned with their own internal mechanics, which unfolded to the patient viewer with a quiet, riveting lushness." Forge's more abstract work of this period was more similar to Monet, Seurat and the abstract expressionist Mark Rothko in its focus on the sensory effects of color, the paper added.

"My pictures change me, every bit as much as I change them," he once was quoted as telling a visitor to one of his exhibits.

In the catalogue for a 1996 retrospective of Professor Forge's work at the Yale Center for British Art, John Hollander, Sterling Professor Emeritus of English, said of the artist's work: "The dots are always at work and at play, and various conditions of viewing catch them doing different things."

Professor Forge's work has also been featured in other one-person shows in the United States and in Europe, most recently at the American Academy in Rome and the Robert Morris Gallery in New York. His work has also been included in numerous private, corporate and public collections, including the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art. His "Painting: Tree of Life (Clair) 1987-89," a work he donated to the latter gallery, will be on view on the second floor center as a tribute to the artist.

Also well-known for his writing on art, Professor Forge was author of a number of books, including "Degas," "Monet" (with Robert Gordon), "Painting and the Whole Self," "Monet at Giverny," "Rauschenberg" and "Art/Nature" as well as numerous articles and reviews in both popular and scholarly publications.

After serving as dean of the School of Art, Professor Forge was director of graduate studies in the painting department. After his retirement, he continued to teach, write and lecture both in the United States and abroad.

Professor Forge's honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Merrill Foundation Award, among others. He contributed to a number of television and radio programs in England that explored aspects of painting and art, and he headed or served on several organizational boards, including serving as trustee of the American Academy in Rome and the Tate Gallery in London.

The artist is survived by his wife, the painter Ruth Miller; two daughters, Stella Rayner of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Katherine Harrison of Kent, England; three stepchildren, Jessica Elzea Kogel of Augusta, Georgia, Kathlin Elzea of Newark, Delaware, and Lucas Elzea of Vienna, Austria; and a brother, John Forge. He was predeceased by a daughter, Clair Burgess. His burial was in the family churchyard in Hastingleigh, Kent, England, where generations of his family, including his mother and daughter, were buried, next to Court Lodge where the artist grew up.


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