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The legacy goes on: Celebrating architects, designers and artists who we lost in 2020

As we step into a new year, STIR honours and celebrates the creative genius and infallible spirit of the visionaries who continue to inspire through their legacy.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jan 04, 2021

At the turn of the decade, STIR remembers the prolific architects, artists and designers who were lost to 2020, some to the pandemic and others to the passage of time, whilst their rich legacies and inspiration continue to live on.

John Baldessari (June 17, 1931 - January 2, 2020)

American conceptual artist John Baldessari in Venice, 2009 | Obituary | STIRworld
American conceptual artist John Baldessari in Venice, 2009 Image: Frédéric de Goldschmidt, courtesy of

American conceptual artist John Baldessari was considered one of the revolutionaries of the conceptual art movement and was known for blending images and text in his pioneering works. Known for pushing the boundaries of art, Baldessari also took on making short films, shooting on video and creating installations, sculpture and photography.

Read the tribute here.

Akbar Padamsee (April 12, 1928 - January 6, 2020)

Akbar Padamsee at his home and studio in 2010 | Akbar Padamsee Obituary | STIRworld
Akbar Padamsee at his home and studio in 2010 Image: Courtesy of Atul Dodiya

Legendary Mumbai-based artist Akbar Padamsee, whose paintings, photographs, sculpture and films were a combination of intuition, mathematical precision, creativity and subtle wit, died of natural causes at 91.

Read the tribute here.

Ulay (November 30, 1943 - March 2, 2020)

From L-R: Marina Abramovic and Ulay perform Relation in Time from the series titled That Self, at Studio G7, Bologna, Italy, 1977 | Tribute to Ulay | STIRworld
From L-R: Marina Abramovic and Ulay perform ‘Relation in Time’ from the series titled ‘That Self’, at Studio G7, Bologna, Italy, 1977 Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A performance artist from Germany, Frank Uwe Laysiepen, professionally and widely known as Ulay, met his demise in March last year. STIR looks at a re-examination of his practice, from his early years as a photographer to his later collaborations with Marina Abramović.

Ulay’s identity as an artist remains obscured by his collaboration with Abramović. To quote Ulay himself, he is “the most famous unknown artist”.

Read the tribute here.

Vittorio Gregotti (August 10, 1927 - March 15, 2020)

Vittorio Gregotti | Architect, Italy | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Vittorio Gregotti Image: Adriano Alecchi

Prolific Italian architect, city planner, writer, and educator Vittorio Gregotti of Milan-based Gregotti Associati passed away at the age of 92 after contracting COVID-19.

He was one of the pioneering figures of 20th century architecture who championed modernism and transformed the face of Italy and the world beyond. Some of his major projects include the Barcelona Olympic Stadium, Milan’s Arcimboldi Opera Theatre and Belem Cultural Center in Lisbon.

Read the tribute here.

Jenny Polanco (January 18, 1958 - March 24, 2020)

Jenny Polanco | Fashion Designer, Dominican Republic | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Jenny Polanco Image: © Jenny Polanco

With over four decades of experience in fusing sophisticated lines, drapes and exquisite cuts in her signature women’s clothing, Dominican fashion designer Jenny Polanco’s work has been widely acknowledged. Her work which also carried over to jewelry, woven handbags and other accessories was characterised by ‘a fluid dialogue between classic avant-garde style and the Caribbean.

Read the tribute here.

Michael Sorkin (August 2, 1948 - March 26, 2020)

Late architect, urbanist and writer Michael Sorkin | Remembering Michael Sorkin | Laurie Sheck | STIRworld
Late architect, urbanist and writer Michael Sorkin Image: Chen Li

New York-based novelist and poet Laurie Sheck pens a heartwarming tribute in memory of acclaimed architect and critic Michael Sorkin who lost his life to coronavirus.

Sorkin, an American architect, urbanist, critic and educator, was considered one of architecture’s most outspoken public intellectuals. As the founder of Michael Sorkin Studio and Terreform, his work span disciplines of design, urbanism, green urbanism, criticism and pedagogy, while his oeuvre includes an incredible repository of critical writings advocating his vision of more equitable and sustainable cities.

Read the tribute here.

Satish Gujral (December 25, 1925 - March 26, 2020)

A portrait of Satish Gujral | Satish Gujral | STIRworld
A portrait of Satish Gujral Image: Courtesy of Ram Rahman

The tribute follows the journey of the New-Delhi based, award winning artist, architect and sculptor Satish Gujral, exploring his inspirations, his love for Urdu literature, and the fluidity in his medium and expressions.

Read the tribute here.

Daniel Azulay (May 30, 1947 - March 27, 2020)

Daniel Azulay | Comic book artist, Brazil | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Daniel Azulay Image: ©Daniel Azulay

The iconic Brazilian comic book artist and educator Daniel Azulay was being treated for leukemia when he contracted coronavirus, and later succumbed to its complications. He was an unforgettable inspiration for a generation of Brazilians who grew up watching Turma do Lambe-Lambe on TV, his most recognised work from 1975, that followed a group of characters comprising human kids and anthropomorphic animals.

Read the tribute here.

Michael McKinnell (December 25, 1935 - March 27, 2020)

Michael McKinnell | Architect, US | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Michael McKinnell Image:

The British-American architect’s most significant contribution and the project that launched his career has been the design of the brutalist icon, Boston City Hall.

Michael Mickinnell, co-founder of the Kallmann McKinnell & Wood architectural design firm, passed away at the age of 95. His most significant contribution and the project that launched his career has been the design of the brutalist icon, Boston City Hall. Some other of his well-known projects include the Independence Visitor Center in Philadelphia and Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Read the tribute here.

David Driskell (June 7, 1931 - April 1, 2020)

David Driskell | Artist | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
David Driskell Image: © The David C. Driskell Center

David Driskell was an artist, historian, art collector, educator and more recognisably an advocate for the role of African American art. Trained as a painter and art historian, he worked primarily in collage and mixed media, and printmaking. His work made it clear that African American art is essential to the American art canon. Driskell was also the recipient of many coveted honours including the three Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships.

Read the tribute here.

Sergio Rossi (1935 - April 2, 2020)

Sergio Rossi |Designer, Italy | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Sergio Rossi Image: ©Sergio Rossi

The legendary footwear designer and the brain behind the eponymous Italian shoemaker brand, Rossi (84) died of complications from COVID-19 in Casena, Italy.

Born in Italy’s San Mauro Pascoli, young Rossi imbibed impeccable artisan skills while working with his father in the 1940s and later took over the family business. He launched the brand Sergio Rossi in 1968, taking the world by storm. Some of the brand’s most signature products include the classic high heeled Godiva pump, square heeled Virginia and round soled Opanca sandal.

Read the tribute here.

Juan Giménez (November 26, 1943 - April 2, 2020)

Juan Giménez | Comic book artist | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Juan Giménez Image: Guillem Medina, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Argentinian comic book artist Juan Giménez is best known for his 1992 hallmark series Metabarons, created with writer Alejandro Jodorowsky. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona , he focused on working in the genre of science fiction.

Soon his name was recognised in the European comic scene, resulting in works such as the Harry Canyon section of the 1981 animated classic, Heavy Metal.

Read the tribute here.

Leila Menchari (September 27, 1927 - April 4, 2020)

Leila Menchari | Designer, Italy | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Leila Menchari Image: © Carole Bellaiche

For 35 years, Tunisian designer and decorator Leila Menchari crafted window displays for the Hermès store located at Faubourg Saint-Honoré street in Paris, France. A graduate of the Beaux-Arts, she has been associated with the French luxury brand since 1961.

Storytelling and a deep admiration for Dali and other surrealists led to her creating works that would often result in both the feelings of elation and dizziness.

Read the tribute here.

Luigi Feltrin (1934 - April 5, 2020)

Luigi Feltrin | Designer, Venice | Creatives we lost to coronavirus (COVID-19) | STIRworld
Luigi Feltrin Image: ©Giovanni Gastel

The Italian furniture brand Arper, which creates chairs, tables and furnishing for community work and home, lost its founder, Luigi Feltrin (aged 85) to COVID-19. A statement from the Arper website remembers Feltrin’s moving guidance to his employees, “I tell young people that we may find a few difficulties and obstacles along our life’s path. But they mustn’t get downhearted at the first hurdle, they should stop and think things over”.

Read the tribute here.

Zarina Hashmi (1937 - April 25, 2020)

Zarina Hashmi (left), and her artwork ‘Under the Dark Sky, Collage’ | Zarina Hashmi | STIRworld
Zarina Hashmi (left), and her artwork ‘Under the Dark Sky, Collage’ Image: Courtesy of Gallery Espace

Author and curator Nancy Adajania writes a heartfelt tribute for the revered minimalist, Indian-American artist and printmaker Zarina Hashmi.

As a young woman, Hashmi piloted a glider and was irresistibly drawn to the challenge of flying. Known professionally as Zarina, her work also incorporates drawings and sculpture.

Read the tribute here.

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff (June 13, 1935 - May 31, 2020)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude | Ellis Island Heritage Award, 2005 | Christo and Jeanne-Claude | STIRworld
Christo and Jeanne-Claude Image: Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Even when life ends, art remains. Artist Christo Vladimirov Javacheff died of natural causes, but the work he began with his late wife Jeanne-Claude continues to be made.

Oil barrel walls blocking the roads of Paris, a colossal curtain cutting through the Rocky Mountains, monuments such as the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin draped entirely in fabric – through the years the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude have brought a pragmatic, albeit temporary, double life to the most unsuspecting of locales..

Read the tribute here.

Pradeep Sachdeva (1957 - May 31, 2020)

The entrance to Dilli Haat (L), Pradeep Sachdeva from a photograph clicked in October 2008 (R) | Tribute to Pradeep Sachdeva | STIRworld
The entrance to Dilli Haat (L), Pradeep Sachdeva from a photograph clicked in October 2008 (R) Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Brijender S Dua

New Delhi-based landscape architect Freddie Ribeiro recalls his learnings from Indian architect Pradeep Sachdeva’s works and ideologies, the man whose greatest asset was understanding people, and who created architectural landmarks in Delhi such as Dilli Haat and Garden of Five Senses.

Apart from architecture, Sachdeva also contributed to the fields of furniture design, public realm, urban design, resorts and hospitality, and some unique residential structures across India.

Read the tribute here.

Luther Price (January 26, 1962 – June 13, 2020)

A still from Green (1988) by Luther Price, as Tom Rhoads | Green | Tom Rhoads | STIRworld
A still from ‘Green’ (1988) by Luther Price, as Tom Rhoads Image: Courtesy of Calicoon Fine Arts

After more than three decades of making art out of derelict film spools, the acclaimed underground filmmaker Luther Price passed away in June last year. Though his works might be obscure to most and even jarring to some, a careful look at any artefact from his diverse and strikingly haunting oeuvre reveals the hands of one of the medium’s most sensitive aesthetes.

Read the tribute here.

Jyotsna Bhatt (March 6, 1940 - July 11, 2020)

Jyotsna Bhatt working in her studio | STIRworld
Jyotsna Bhatt working in her studio Image: Courtesy of Gallery Ark

STIR reminisces and celebrates the contributions of Indian contemporary ceramist, Jyotsna Bhatt, who passed away at the age of 80. Starting her journey with sculptural pottery, she joined MS University in 1972 as faculty, at a time when contemporary clay practice in India was still at a nascent stage. Bhatt and her handful contemporaries became the trailblazers of ceramics in the country.

Read the tribute here.

Revathi Kamath (1955 - July 21, 2020)

L: Revathi Kamath, R: Desert Resort, Mandawa, Rajasthan (1984) | Revathi Kamath | Kamath Design Studio | STIRworld
L: Revathi Kamath, R: Desert Resort, Mandawa, Rajasthan Image: Courtesy of Kamath Design Studio

An architect known for her ecologically and socially sustainable architecture, Revathi Kamath leaves behind a legacy of works that brought craft skills from India into its architectural expression.

She set up her Delhi-based firm Kamath Design Studio in 1981 with her husband, late Vasant Kamath, their oeuvre encompassing fields of sustainability, vernacular and mud architecture, witnessed in Laxman Sagar Resort in Rajasthan and The Anandgram Project in Delhi.

Read the tribute here.

Enzo Mari (1932 - October 19, 2020)

(L) Enzo Mari; (Clockwise from right): 16 animals puzzle, Camicia flower vase, Per forza di levare, “broken vase” and Structure 793 in PVC tubes by Enzo Mari | STIR Tribute | STIRworld
(L) Enzo Mari; (Clockwise from right): 16 animals puzzle, Camicia flower vase, Per forza di levare, “broken vase” and Structure 793 in PVC tubes by Enzo Mari Image: (L) Ramak Fazel, Courtesy of Triennale Milano, (Clockwise from right): Federico Villa, Courtesy of Danese Milano, Courtesy of Danese Milano/ Triennale Milano, Courtesy of KPM Berlin and Courtesy of Collezione E. Righi respectively

Lovingly called the ‘Grandfather of Italian Design’, Enzo Mari was a stalwart whose vast body of work and sensitivity towards his craft of design was met by the striking, often sharp relevance of his thought. A designer, artist, critic and theoretician, Mari was passionate in his critique, but also pining in his nihilistic views, with an enviable eye for spotting fallacies in design, and an unreserved tongue to point them out.

STIR speaks with Richard Hutten, Fabio Novembre and Patricia Urquiola, about the impact that Enzo Mari's designs and philosophies have had over their work.

Read the tribute here.

Kuldip Singh (1934 - November 10, 2020)

Kuldip Singh in his office, in Delhi | Kuldip Singh tribute | STIRworld
Kuldip Singh in his office, in Delhi Image: Sadiq Zafar

Architect and urban planner Sadiq Zafar pays tribute to Indian architect Kuldip Singh, for whom work was family, and his design studio, a partner for life.

Having designed iconic buildings like the Palika Kendra along with Mahendra Raj and the NCDC building in Delhi, Kuldip Singh says “This is what makes it a landmark: the honesty in structure and the way design is communicating with common people”.

Read the tribute here.

(Text by Shreeparna Chatterjee, editorial trainee at

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