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Quita Brodhead, 101; Pennsylvania Artist's Work Spanned 80 Years

September 21, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Quita Brodhead, a painter whose colorful work over 80 years ranged from still lifes to lyrical abstracts, died of colon cancer Sept. 4 at a hospital in Bryn Mawr, Pa. She was 101.

Brodhead, who was painting daily through the last years of her life, was honored with a retrospective of her work around her 100th birthday, March 5, 2001, at the Hollis Taggart Galleries in New York.

Her work has been collected by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, N.Y., and elsewhere.

She was born Marie Wagaman Berl in Wilmington, Del., but her father called her Mariequita (little Marie in Spanish) to avoid confusion with her mother, Marie.

She was known throughout her life by her nickname, Quita.

She attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later became a student of the Philadelphia painter Arthur B. Carles, who had studied Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne in Paris. Those influences were apparent in his work and later in Brodhead's.

Brodhead traveled and painted in France during the 1920s, returning to the United States in 1927.

With a friend, she founded the Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania in 1930, and spent most of her life in Wayne.

Her early work, mainly still lifes and nudes, shows impressionistic leanings.

Brodhead's painting became more abstract in the 1950s.

By the '60s, space exploration fed her curiosity about science and mathematics, particularly chaos theory, and helped shape the themes of her later work.

New York Times critic Grace Glueck, in a review of her centennial show last year, wrote:

"The gifts of long life and the talent to live it rewardingly do not go to many. Ms. Brodhead is quite simply a phenomenon."

Her survivors include a daughter, two sons, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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