William Wilson, who wrote art criticism for the Los Angeles Times for more than three decades, died Saturday after suffering from
In his 33 years at The Times, Wilson reviewed numerous art museum exhibitions and wrote at length about famed artists such as Douanier Rousseau and Andy Warhol.
"His opinion was of paramount importance to everyone interested in contemporary art," recalled Josine Ianco-Starrels, former director of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. "What he thought informed them of what they ought to be thinking.... I loved him because he was honest and had a tongue that sliced smoothly all the way to the bone."
His writing also helped bring attention to lesser-known artists, including Doug Wheeler, a now well-recognized founder of the Light and Space movement.
In one particularly memorable review, Wilson wrote of Wheeler's 1968 show at the Pasadena Art Museum: "Even modified, no normal architecture is prepared for such dustless purity. Every imperfect detail becomes a smudge -- the glow broken by the line of the floor, irregularities in the room. Footprints on the floor are as obscene as mud on a communion gown."
Wilson left The Times in 1999 to work on a book about the art history of L.A but continued to contribute to the paper as a freelance writer until 2001.
"One of the things I have enjoyed most about my work is covering a tremendous panorama of art, from Egyptian antiquities to art that's hot off the griddle," Wilson said before departing the paper. "It has been a big challenge, a big opportunity and a big learning experience to write about everything from little community shows to connoisseurs' exhibitions of master drawings at the
A native Angeleno, Wilson received a bachelor's degree in design at
In addition to writing, Wilson was also a teacher at numerous academic institutions including
Memorial plans have yet to be announced.
A full obituary will follow on latimes.com/obits.