Curator, art dealer and writer Klaus Kertess has died, reported ARTnews. He was 76 years old. Kertess is survived by his long-time partner, artist Billy Sullivan. The pair lived in East Hampton and New York. Kertess had Alzheimer’s disease and had collapsed at his apartment, said Sullivan, according to the New York Times. He passed away on October 8, 2016.
Kertess was curator of the 1995 Whitney Biennial and founded the Upper East Side gallery Bykert in 1966, where he worked with artists including Brice Marden, David Novros, Barry Le Va, Alan Saret, Chuck Close, Bill Bollinger, and Dorothea Rockburne and many others, according to ARTnews.
After he left the gallery in 1975, Kertess was the curator at the Parrish Art Museum in The Hamptons from 1983 to 1989. While at the Parrish, he curated shows featuring Carroll Dunham, April Gornik, Albert York, Jane Freilicher and Alfonso Ossorio.
Afterwards, Kertess moved to The Whitney to become adjunct curator of drawing.
Kertess was an active member of The Hamptons community and appeared frequently at exhibition openings and cultural events held by The Parrish, Guild Hall, LongHouse Reserve and art fair panels and events including those presented by Art Hamptons. He was an Honorary Trustee Board Member of the Parrish at the time of his death.
Kertess was born in New York in 1940 and grew up in Westchester County. He attended Phillips Academy in Andover, M.A. before studying art history at Yale. After graduating in 1962, he studied at the Universities of Cologne and Bonn in Germany and also worked at the Lempertz auction house. After returning to the United States, Kertess completed a master's in art history at Yale in 1964.
He then moved to New York City and opened Bykert gallery with Yale classmate Jeff Byers, according to ARTnews. The gallery became known for the artists it exhibited but also for the people it employed, according to ARTnews. They included sculptor Lynda Benglis and her Hunter College student, the future art dealer Mary Boone.
Klaus Kertess continued curated with noteworthy shows including the 1995 Whitney Biennial; “Willem de Kooning: Drawing Seeing/Seeing Drawing” at the Drawing Center in New York in 1998 and “Meditations in an Emergency,” the inaugural show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in 2007, which included Mark Bradford, Kara Walker, Nari Ward, Barry McGee, and others, according to ARTnews.
Other accomplishments include receiving the 2009 Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.
As a writer, Kertess authored numerous monographs and contributed to Artforum, Art in America, and other publications. In 2011, Gregory R. Miller & Co. published his collected writings in the book "Seen, Written," which had book signings held in The Hamptons in 2011.
The New York Times published an obituary written by William Grimes on October 16, 2016. Click here to read.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story was updated on October 20, 2016 to add a reference to the New York Time's obituary and to add the date of Klaus Kertess's passing.
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