New Yorker Art Critic Peter Schjeldahl Dies At 80

New Yorker Art Critic Peter Schjeldahl Dies At 80

Peter Schjeldahl, New York art critic and prose stylist for the New York art scene for half a century, died today, October 21, at the age of 80.

Although Scheldahl's cause of death has not been officially confirmed, he was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 77. In his sketchy, free-flowing essay The Art of Dying, published in The New Yorker in 2019, Schjeldahl recounted how he once received a Guggenheim Fellowship to write a paper but never completed the assignment. "I don't feel interesting," he said simply. The Art of Dying was an attempt to correct this failure, examining his critical debut in 1965, his association with St. Mark's Church and the Lower East Side poetic scene of the 1960s and 70s, and the connection between his sexuality and telling about drug use. and alcoholism and its ever-changing association with death and anxiety. He called the "Grim Reaper" his muse and compared himself to "an undetectable camera, capturing every detail of the glittering world".

Born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1942, Sjeldahl grew up in Minnesota, where he studied English at Carleton College, but did not graduate. He began his career at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City after coolly writing in "small-town papers next to the big ones." After a brief stint as a writer for Art News, Schjeldahl worked as an art critic for the Village Voice before joining The New Yorker in 1998 as an editor.

With little formal training in art history or practice, Schjeldahl entered art criticism simply out of a passion for art, developed in part while studying abroad in Paris in the early 1960s. He later wrote "to give the impression that I knew what I was talking about – as I began to do".

Throughout his long career, Schjeldahl has championed living artists working in a variety of genres and materials, including Faith Ringgold, Richard Sere, Amy Sherald, Bruce Nauman and countless others, while looking critically at others such as Cézanne and KAWS. Schjeldal continued to write essays and reviews until his last days, including a eulogy for the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art published just two weeks before his death.

Schjeldal also wrote poems before the study of art finally resumed his poetic practice. During his short time at Carleton, he became one of the founders of a poetry magazine representative of what was then the New York Modern School. In 1978 he published a collection entitled " Since 1964: New and Selected Poems " which consisted of several volumes of his work.

Scheldahl is survived by his wife Donnie Brooke Alderson and their daughter Ada Calhoun, who earlier this year published their memoir Also a Poet: Frank O'Hara, My Father and Me , both of which explore his complicated relationship with his father and his efforts to complete ' a biography of the poet Frank O'Hara, which he never completed.

Critic David Carrier wrote in Hyperallergic in 2019 about Sjöldahl's Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light, 100 Works of Art 1988-2018 collection: “Sjöldahl is a lover of the visual arts in a time that is often hostile to him. And so, to me, his greatest achievement is that he didn't become a disgrace like Hilton Kramer, and he didn't retreat to focus on the past; Instead, he continued to revise prolifically, even as contemporary art became distinctly foreign to his sensibilities.

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