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Subject: A death

A death

From: Kate Olivier <olivier>
Date: Wednesday, August 2, 2006
    Dr. Vojtech Jirat-Wasiutynski died suddenly in Kingston,
    Ontario, on July 8, aged 58. Born in Penley, Wales, the son of a
    Polish army officer and a Czech industrialist's daughter, both
    displaced in the aftermath of World War II, he was educated in
    London, England, and Montreal, Canada. He graduated in 1975 from
    the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University,
    where his doctoral dissertation was entitled Paul Gauguin in the
    Context of Symbolism (it was subsequently published in the
    series Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts, New York,
    Garland: 1978). At the time of his death he was Professor of Art
    History at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. Major grants
    received included the Ailsa Bruce Mellon Senior Fellow at the
    Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (1994) and three
    Research Fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities
    Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for 1984-87; 1986-87; and

    He began teaching art history at Queens University, Canada, in
    1972, where Dr. Leslie Carlyle, head of conservation at the
    Tate, was a student in his first class.  She described him as a
    pioneer in collaboration between art historians and
    conservators. He was inspired by his wife Thea, trained as a
    paper conservator and art historian, who co-authored articles
    with VJW on Gauguin and artists' use of charcoal in drawings.

    In much of his earlier scholarship, he sought to understand how
    the artist's technical and material choices might contribute to
    our understanding of the cultural meaning of the works they
    created. Two important books, co-authored with paintings
    conservator Travers Newton, Vincent van Gogh's "Self Portrait
    Dedicated to Paul Gauguin". An Historical and Technical Study
    with contributions by Richard Newman and Eugene Farrell,
    (Harvard University Art Museums, 1984) and Technique and Meaning
    in the Paintings of Paul Gauguin, (Cambridge University Press,
    2000) developed this line of inquiry with rich results. In the
    latter book the authors argued that Gauguin manipulated
    materials as a metaphor for artistic vision. He also wrote and
    lectured extensively in both English and French on related and
    other topics.

    More recently, VJW sought to understand art historical problems
    in terms of cultural geography. He wrote the introductory essay,
    "Modern Art and the New Mediterranean Space" to a volume of
    essays that he edited for University of Toronto Press titled
    Modern Art and the Idea of the Mediterranean; it is currently in
    press. Earlier related publications include, notably, "Vincent
    van Gogh's Paintings of Cypresses and Olive Trees from San
    Remy", The Art Bulletin 75 (193), 647-70; "Une modernite
    difficile: Van Gogh et Gauguin devant l'Arlesienne, in the
    Exhibition Catalogue Arlesienne: Le Myth? Museon Arlaten, Arles,
    1999 and "Van Gogh and the South: Antimodernism and Exoticism in
    the Arlesiean Paintings", in the anthology Antimodernism and
    Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity
    (University of Toronto Press, 2001).

    At the time of his death he was working on a book titled
    Modernity and Region: Representing Provence in
    Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture. This examines how  Provence
    came to be at the cross-roads of the extremes of modernity and
    tradition, a conservative bastion and an emblem of the

    Vojtech was an utterly dedicated teacher, wise and probing,
    bringing out the best in his students. He was a wonderful
    person--thoughtful, highly intelligent, generous intellectually
    and humanly, gracious and warm.

    In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Andrew
    Jirat-Wasiutynski of London, England.

    Henry Travers Newton
    Santa Barbara, CA

Kate Olivier
Harvard University Art Museums
32 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Fax: 495-9936

                  Conservation DistList Instance 20:8
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 2, 2006
                        Message Id: cdl-20-8-001
Received on Wednesday, 2 August, 2006

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