January 2, 2019 Brigitte Ganger

The Five Influential Artists Who Died in 2018

Saying goodbye to those who created beauty

The Five Influential Artists Who Died in 2018
LOS ANGELES , CA - FEBRUARY 16: Curator Kate Spade attends a gallery exhibition of photographer Slim Aarons' work curated by Kate Spade at Fred Segal Cafe on February 16, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

In 2018, the world lost some of its most inspired creators of beloved aesthetics. From cartoonists to handbags designers to art festival founders, this is our list of the top 5 visual talents that were lost in the past year. 


1. Stan Lee


Creative genius Stan Lee passed away in 2018, to a great outpouring of love and grief from fans all over the world. He is credited with creating such beloved characters as Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Incredible Hulk. 


He worked at Marvel for much of his life, becoming famous in the 1960s for creating complex comic characters. Unlike competing altruistic characters such as Superman, Lee's characters faced human setbacks. They came to life in comic strips, paving the way for deeper use of the medium of cartooning. 


As the characters Lee founded grew into television, gaming and film franchises, he had a hand in ensuring they stayed true to his vision of writing characters first, heroes second.


The creator of the Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk universes, passed away on November 12, 2018. He lives on in the characters he created, and the fans he inspired. 


Click here to read Stan Lee's full obituary story on Beyond the Dash.


2. Kate Spade


Kate Spade's death came as a shock in June of 2018, when the seemingly sunny handbag designer committed suicide at the age 55. 


Spade and her husband, Andy Spade, launched the New York-based brand in 1993. Their handbags offered a chic, yet affordable, selection of handbags that were soon seen on the arms of women on every Manhattan block. Bright, bold and always fun, the brand grew to include accessories, clothing, shoes and an ever-widening array of vibrant purses.


Her death sent ripples of grief through the fashion community, and all who'd enjoyed her boldly positive designs. But it quickly became known that the talented handbag designer and mother had died by hanging. The death reminded everyone that depression doesn't always look the way we expect it to, given the disparity between the radiant woman whose talent created joy across the world, and her ultimate tragic ending. Even those who appear to be happy might be secretly suffering from a mental illness.


Click here to read Kate Spade's full obituary story on Beyond the Dash.


3. Mort Walker 


Another visual artist who passed away in 2018 was the legendary comic strip artist, Mort Walker. He died in the beginning of 2018, at the age of 94. His long life included the creation of one of the most popular and long-running strips in existence. 


Mort Walker created the iconic army comic, Beetle Bailey, in 1950. The staple cartoon follows the ineptitude of the military staff at a fictional army base in the United States. Over the years, the strip's cast of characters grew, while some familiar faces retired or returned for cameos. The world of Beetle Bailey was animated into a 1989 series of shorts and even a musical. 


At first, Walker handled every aspect of the comic's production, including writing, drawing, and inking, but later hired assistants to help with the popular comic strip. With the help, the cartoon continued to publish until his death in January of 2018. The beloved comic artist paved the way for modern cartoonists, and he lives on in Beetle Bailey, as well as all of the art his work inspired. 


Click here to read Mort Walker's full obituary story on Beyond the Dash.


4. Larry Harvey


Larry Harvey was a cultural innovator and visionary who co-created perhaps the most mysterious art festivals in existence: Burning Man. 


Burning Man is an annual counterculture festival that takes place in the deserts of Nevada. It's a 10-day celebration of renewal, art and community. With an emphasis on self-reliance, festival-goers must pack their own food, water and accommodations to a remote location and experience a vibrant circus of costumes, music, parties and larger-than-life dynamic art installations. The Man is a large wooden effigy that is burned and destroyed during the festival. 


Interestingly, the festival demanded decommodification, establishing a giving and trading structure for exchange of good within the grounds. Harvey advocated for free art and expression, naming himself the "chief philosophic officer" of the non-profit corporation that produced the event. He passed away on April 28, 2018, leaving behind a community of burners who perpetuate his vision.


 


Click here to read Larry Harvey's full obituary story on Beyond the Dash.


5. Robert Indiana


Robert Indiana passed away on May 29, 2018. Though you may not recognize the name, you're sure to recognize the signature art style of his signature 'LOVE' series. 


The 'LOVE' sculpture depicts the word with an 'L' and right-tilted 'O' atop the letters 'V' and 'E. 'The famous sculpture rests at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but has been replaced in many locations worldwide. He created other word and number sculptures in the bold, simplistic style. 


Later in life, Robert Indiana became reclusive, and some said, difficult. He moved to a remote location off of the mainland of Vinalhaven, where loved one's alleged he was being socially isolated by his caretakers, and taken advantage of. He died a day after lawsuits were filed regarding this concern. The artist's style has inspired home decor, copycats and lovers across the world for decades, and he leaves behind the reminder that love is what really matters. 


Click here to read Robert Indiana's full obituary story on Beyond the Dash.


Though these artists are no longer with us on earth, all of them changed the world for the better. Did these artists touch your life in any way?

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