CHICAGO — A. James Speyer, a well-known curator of painting and sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago, has died after a long illness. He was 73.
Speyer, who died Sunday, gained a reputation as a dynamic force in the contemporary art scene during his 25-year tenure at the institute, counting as friends such artists as Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Georgia O'Keeffe.
"Jim was unique among the curators of his generation in combining a passion for contemporary American work with a knowledge of and respect for the most advanced art that continued to be produced in Europe," institute Director James N. Wood said in a statement Monday.
Speyer studied at the Illinois Institute of Technology, served in World War II and then returned to teach at the institute of technology in 1946.
From 1957-60, Speyer was a visiting Fulbright professor at the National University in Athens, Greece.
He became curator of 20th-Century painting and sculpture at the Art Institute in 1961.