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2012 in review: Notable deaths in visual arts and architecture

December 26, 2012|By David Ng
  • A note reading "Bummer" is left at a memorial to artist and teacher Mike Kelley in his Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles which formed a resemblance to his 1987 piece now in the Whitney Museum's collection, titled, "More Love Hours Than Can Even Be Repaid and The Wages of Sin."
A note reading "Bummer" is left at a memorial to artist and teacher… (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles…)

The fields of art and architecture lost several notable names in 2012.

The most high-profile death was that of Thomas Kinkade, the self-anointed “Painter of Light” who died in April at 58 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. Kinkade gained a worldwide following for his paintings of cozy cottages and serene landscapes, but he was reviled by critics and most serious art connoisseurs.

In Los Angeles, the year began on a sad note with the apparent suicide of Mike Kelley. The artist died in January at 57. Known for his transgressive work in installations and performance, Kelley channeled a rebellious spirit even as he was recognized by the artistic establishment.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths in arts and culture in 2012

Michael Asher, another local artist with an international reputation, died in October at 69. Karl Benjamin, the abstract painter who lived in Claremont, passed away in July at 86.

In architecture, the year’s biggest loss was that of Oscar Niemeyer, who lived to be 104. The Brazilian architect created numerous modernist buildings, including the structures that make up the capital city of Brasilia.

Click on the photo gallery above for a look at notables in the arts who died in 2012.

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