‘Faces of Death’ Artists Honor Celebrities Lost in 2016

An art project provides a moment of reflection.

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Libby Vanderploeg, Sharon Jones. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
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Maya Hayuk, David Bowie and Prince Hanging Out Together. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
David Bowie and Prince Hanging Out Together
Maya Hayuk, David Bowie and Prince Hanging Out Together. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Heidi Lovie, Natalie Cole. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Natalie Cole
Heidi Lovie, Natalie Cole. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Ryan Kitson, Fidel Castro. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Fidel Castro
Ryan Kitson, Fidel Castro. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Scott Chasse, Nancy Reagan. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Nancy Reagan
Scott Chasse, Nancy Reagan. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh, Muhammad Ali. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Muhammad Ali
Dawline-Jane Oni-Eseleh, Muhammad Ali. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Amy Aronoff, Ellsworth Kelly. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Ellsworth Kelly
Amy Aronoff, Ellsworth Kelly. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
J. Longo, Alan Rickman. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Alan Rickman
J. Longo, Alan Rickman. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Lina Hellden, Gene Wilder. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Gene Wilder
Lina Hellden, Gene Wilder. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Clara Cornelius, Janet Reno. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Janet Reno
Clara Cornelius, Janet Reno. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Liz Tucci, Garry Marshall. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Garry Marshall
Liz Tucci, Garry Marshall. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Nathan Monroe-Yavneh, Antonin Scalia. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Antonin Scalia
Nathan Monroe-Yavneh, Antonin Scalia. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Lizzie Gill, Harper Lee. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Harper Lee
Lizzie Gill, Harper Lee. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Michael Hambouz, John Glenn. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
John Glenn
Michael Hambouz, John Glenn. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Lauren Silbermann, Elie Wiesel. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Elie Wiesel
Lauren Silbermann, Elie Wiesel. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Pinky Weber, Harambe. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Harambe
Pinky Weber, Harambe. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Amanda Browder, Tony Feher. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Tony Feher
Amanda Browder, Tony Feher. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Libby Vanderploeg, Sharon Jones. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Sharon Jones
Libby Vanderploeg, Sharon Jones. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Chris Smith, Marisol Escobar. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Marisol
Chris Smith, Marisol Escobar. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Jody Kivort, Bill Cunningham. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Bill Cunningham
Jody Kivort, Bill Cunningham. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Tenli Yavneh, Pierre Boulez. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Pierre Boulez
Tenli Yavneh, Pierre Boulez. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Krista Sammons, Zaha Hadid. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Zaha Hadid
Krista Sammons, Zaha Hadid. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Myles Gathwaite, Kenny Baker. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Kenny Baker
Myles Gathwaite, Kenny Baker. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Raisa Monroe-Yavneh, Maggie. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Maggie
Raisa Monroe-Yavneh, Maggie, the world's oldest dog. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Mike Reddy, Morley Safer. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Morley Safer
Mike Reddy, Morley Safer. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Sarah Roberson, Arnold Palmer. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Arnold Palmer
Sarah Roberson, Arnold Palmer. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Milton Carter, Leonard Cohen. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Leonard Cohen
Milton Carter, Leonard Cohen. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Kairkhan Orymbayev, Anton Yelchin. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Anton Yelchin
Kairkhan Orymbayev, Anton Yelchin. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Clayton Dean Smith, Daniel Berrigan. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Daniel Berrigan
Clayton Dean Smith, Daniel Berrigan. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Maya Hayuk, Florence Henderson. Courtesy of Faces of Death.
Florence Henderson
Maya Hayuk, Florence Henderson. Courtesy of Faces of Death.

Even in the last days of the year, 2016 continued to claim the lives of beloved public figures, with art collector and Wham! musician George Michael dying Christmas Day, and “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher passing away on December 27.

One annual artist project, Faces of Death, pays tribute to those dearly departed by inviting participants to contribute black and white portraits of well-known figures who have died over the course of the year. The increasingly-popular project, founded in 1997, is all the more resonant in 2016.

It has been, by all measures, a tough year for celebrity deaths, a trend that is likely to continue as Baby Boomers age. Given the long list of well-known deaths on the year, it is no surprise that the 2016 edition of Faces of Death features no less than 95 celebrities, up nine from 2015.

The 2016 roll call is impressive: We lost political giants Nancy Reagan, Janet Reno, Antonin Scalia, and Fidel Castro, astronaut-turned-senator John Glenn, and boxer-turned activist Muhammad Ali.

In the arts, architect Zaha Hadid and photographer Bill Cunningham were among those who left us, as did author Harper Lee and actors Florence Henderson, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, and Kenny Baker. The music industry seemed especially hard hit, with Michael’s death following on the heels of those of Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, and Natalie Cole.

Brooklyn artist Michael Hambouz, who organizes Faces of Death, gave Bowie and Prince top billing, with several artists submitting entries for a shot at the title drawing of the two music legends hanging out. Artist Maya Hayuk’s submission “Goodnight My Hero, My Prince,” won by a vote from other project participants. She is joined by artists of all stripes, from fellow professionals to enthusiastic doodlers.

A couple of lingering 2015 deaths, which took place after last year’s design was finalized, are also featured, including Ellsworth Kelly. (Hambouz also slipped in an unofficial drawing marking the death of Donald Trump’s soul, in a not-so-subtle commentary on the presidential election.)

In order to squeeze in the additional drawings, Faces of Death has evolved from a t-shirt, as in years past, to a high-quality artist print, available for purchase for $20. Because this is not a money-making enterprise, the price tag merely covers the cost of printing complimentary prints for all of the participants.


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