Joël Brard, a director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, died on 5 May, aged 70. Born in Tarbes, Brard grew up in New York and Montreal and returned to France as a teenager in 1963. He became involved with Paris Audiovisuel from its foundation in 1978 and then helped to organise the Mois de la Photo biennial in 1980. He was the general commissioner of the biennial from its beginning to 2017. It was from the biennial that the Maison Européenne de la Photographie grew, and he was its director of communications from 1996 to 2013.
Lee Hall, an abstract landscape artist, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, and biographer of Willem de Kooning, died on 17 April, aged 82. Born in North Carolina, she studied with John Opper, the abstract painter, at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She took a master’s degree in art education at New York University in 1959 and a doctorate in 1965. She then studied at the Warburg Institute, London. In 1975, she was appointed president of the Rhode Island School of Design, but the school was in financial difficulties and her tenure was marked by conflict. She left in 1983. Her work was shown regularly at the Betty Parsons Gallery until its closure in 1983, after which Hall wrote Parsons’ biography (1991). Elaine and Bill: Portrait of a Marriage (1993), her unsparing account of the lives of Elaine and Willem de Kooning, was criticised for its tactless exposure of the couple’s sordid behaviour.
A.R. Penck, the pseudonym of Ralf Winkler, the German painter, printmaker, sculptor and jazz drummer, died on 2 May, aged 77. Winkler was born in Dresden where he took art lessons and worked as a stoker, paperboy, margarine packer and night watchman. He later studied and exhibited with a group of other Neo-Expressionist painters, including Jörg Immendorff, Georg Baselitz and Markus Lüpertz. Considered a dissident by East Germany’s communist government, he took the name Albrecht Penck to avoid arrest. In the 1960s and 70s he attracted attention for his paintings and sculptures that he called Standart, a conflation of “standard” and “art” that also alluded to the German word for flag. His work brought him to international attention when it appeared in the 1972 Documenta, for which he was punished by the authorities. He was expelled from East Germany in 1980, and his work was shown in major museum exhibitions throughout the West. He settled first in West Germany, then in 1983 in London, and thereafter in New York and various European cities.
Nigel Sitwell, the founder of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, died on 31 March, aged 81. After national service, he trained as a pilot and worked as a journalist in Canada. In 1963, he joined the editorial board of Animals (later Wildlife, now BBC Wildlife) where he instituted the competition to encourage wildlife photographers and enhance the prestige of wildlife photography. By the end of the 1960s the competition was regarded as a standard of excellence by photography experts.
Jack Tilton, a director of the Betty Parsons Gallery and the founder of the Tilton Gallery, New York, and the Roberts and Tilton Gallery in Culver City, California, died on 7 May, aged 66. Born in New Hampshire, he studied business at Babson College in Massachusetts, and in 1975 joined the Betty Parsons Gallery, now famous for her championship of the New York Abstract Expressionist painters. While there and at his own galleries, Tilton promoted artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kiki Smith, David Hammons, Francis Alÿs, Glenn Ligon and Fred Holland. In the 1990s he helped to create a market for many Chinese artists, including Liu Wei, Huang Yong Ping and Xu Bing.