Swiss-American Artist Madeleine Gekiere Dies at 96

Madeleine Gekiere working in the 1950s.
Courtesy Fred Torres Collaborations.

The Zurich-born, New York-based artist, filmmaker, illustrator, and author Madeleine Gekiere has died at age 96. A tirelessly multi-disciplinary artist, she was known not only for her drawings and mixed media paintings filled with stylized figures and indecipherable symbols, but also for her short films, short stories, and her popular illustrated books.

According to the New York Post, Gekiere was found dead in her apartment in Chelsea on the morning of July 1. According to DNAinfo, it was an apparent suicide.

“She was old, she didn’t enjoy life anymore,” her downstairs neighbor Scott Lifschutz told DNAinfo. “She had bad days physically…She was a really smart, really worldly woman.”

Born in Switzerland in 1919, she came to the US when she was 20 and studied at New York’s Art Students League and the Brooklyn Museum School.

“I was not really developed as an artist,” she told an interviewer in 2012. “I was trying to be a fashion artist, but I was really lousy at it. You don’t know how to function when you are first starting out to things.”

She began showing with Babcock Gallery in the 1950s. More recently she has been showing with Fred Torres Collaborations. Her dealer announced the artist’s death in an email on the evening of July 1.

“A moment of silence for our fellow artist,” Torres wrote. “Your influence on me and all those at the gallery will live on forever.”

Her works are included in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library, among others.

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