Critic and Curator Edward Leffingwell Dies at 72


Edward Leffingwell.


Art critic, curator, and gallery director Edward Leffingwell, who was an expert on Brazilian contemporary art, died on August 5 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Leffingwell’s byline was most often seen in Art in America, for which he penned hundreds of reviews and served as correspondent for Brazil while being based in the U.S. from 1989 to 2009 (AiA‘s obituary is here.) His writing credits also include a number of books and catalogue essays for major museum shows, about Lawrence Weiner, Jack Smith, Joe Deal, Claude Monet, and others.

He was director of programming for New York’s Institute for Art and Urban Resources from 1986 to 1987, where he did shows at PS1 with John McCracken, James Rosenquist and Neil Williams (which he co-curated with Richard Bellamy), and Michael Tracy, then moved to Los Angeles to become director of the city’s Municipal Art Gallery and its visual arts program, a job he held for four years. After part with the gallery, he continued to write extensively and curate shows, including a well-received Jack Smith exhibition at PS1 in 1997.

Leffingwell was born in 1941 in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and attended American University in Washington, D.C. He is survived by his brother, Thomas W. Leffingwell.

In the summer of 1992, budget cuts in Los Angeles caused the elimination of his job at the Municipal Gallery, and he found himself being reassigned to be in charge of the city’s public art program. He did not want the job.

“I turned 50 in December,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “and I’m not interested in cutting off part of my anatomy so that I can be a civil servant and have a comfortable pension.”

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