Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.

Jasper Johns

Merle Schipper

1922–2001

Merle Schipper, via Smithsonian Archives of American Art

Art historian, critic, and independent curator Merle Schipper was born in Toronto in 1922 and was naturalized in Los Angeles in 1950. After receiving her PhD in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1974, Schipper went on to curate multiple exhibitions, was a regular contributor to art publications including ARTnews, Artweek, and the Los Angeles Daily News, and taught widely at institutions including the University of Southern California, Claremont Graduate School, and her alma mater, UCLA.

Among the exhibitions Schipper curated were Visions of Inner Space (co-curated with Lee Mullican) at UCLA in 1988, Being There/Being Here, Nine Perspectives in New Italian Art for the Italian Cultural Institute in 1991, and an exhibition of William Spratling silver for the Craft and Folk Art Museum (now Craft Contemporary) in 1997. Schipper’s papers – including her interviews with artists such as Lita Albuquerque, John Baldessari, Billy Al Bengston, Tony Berlant, Robert Irwin, Ed Moses, and Ken Price – are part of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.