DIVISION OF ARTS AND HUMANITIES
OFFICE OF THE CHAIR -
October 20, 2016
ALL ACADEMICS, STAFF, AND STUDENTS AT UC SAN DIEGO
UC San Diego Visual Arts Professor Emeritus David Antin passed away October 11, 2016, at the age of 84. An illustrious poet, critic, teacher and performance artist, Antin joined the Department of Visual Arts in 1968 as the director of the University Art Gallery. He retired in 1993 and continued to teach as an Emeritus Professor. Much like the department itself, Antin was renowned for his innovative, conceptual art practice, and while at UC San Diego he became famous for his improvised "Talk Poems."
As his friend and colleague Professor Sheldon Nodelman notes, "He was one of the founders of the Visual Arts Department and contributed decisively in shaping its intellectual tenor and overall agenda."
As its first director, from 1968 to 1973, Antin made the University Art Gallery a venue for cutting-edge experimental works and performances by emerging and diverse artists. He served several times as Department of Visual Arts chair and was instrumental in shaping the M.F.A. program, which is consistently ranked as one of the top 15 in the nation.
"No one played a greater role than he in helping the department quickly rise to national and international prominence," said Jack Greenstein, current chair, UC San Diego's Department of Visual Arts. Antin was a popular, effective and highly influential teacher and many of his students are now leaders in artistic and cultural fields.
"David Antin was one of the greatest creative and critical voices of his generation," Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Chief Executive and Director Michael Govan stated in the Los Angeles Times. "It was thrilling to have him as one of my graduate school advisors." Born in New York City in 1932, Antin earned his B.A. from City College of New York and his M.A. from New York University. For the first decade of his career, he translated scientific texts and fiction and then transitioned into publishing poetry and art criticism. He was a prolific author, publishing over 10 books of poetry and art criticism. Some of his best-known books include "Talking" (1972), "Talking at the Boundaries" (1976), "tuning" (1984) and "What It Means to Be Avant-Garde" (1993).
Antin garnered numerous honors and awards for his poetry and art criticism, including a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976 and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1983. He received the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984 and was honored with the Frank Jewett Mather Award from the College Art Association in 2012.
Antin is survived by his wife of 55 years, Eleanor Antin; she is a groundbreaking artist, longtime collaborator and Professor Emerita of the Department of Visual Arts. Antin is also survived by his son Blaise, daughter-in-law Cindy, and grandchildren Zachary and Natalie. Please join us for a special reading in memory of David Antin at the Artists and Language exhibition on November 4, at 3:00 pm in the Geisel Library, Seuss Room.