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Geist, Sidney 1914–2005

Geist, Sidney 1914–2005

(Otis Gage)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born April 11, 1914, in Paterson, NJ; died of complications following a stroke, October 18, 2005, in New York, NY. Artist, educator, and author. Geist was a noted sculptor who also became known as an authority on Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi. His education in art was diverse, beginning with studies at St. Stephen's College and continuing with his apprenticeship under Paul Fiene from 1931 to 1937. Geist then studied at the Art Students League for a year and, after serving as a private in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While still in Paris in 1950, he participated in a cooperative called the Galerie Huit that was founded by expatriate artists. Returning to Manhattan, he established his own studio and began working on his art in earnest and exhibiting his work. Over the years, Geist became known for his sculptures chiseled and formed out of natural materials such as wood and stone. His style was not easily associated with any particular school or technique, but his art was often distinguished by his bright and bold use of color. Often, the artist found that his use of color caused serious pieces to be viewed by audiences as having a comic effect, and he eventually resigned himself good-humoredly to this interpretation. In addi-tion to his artistic work, Geist was also a teacher. His first such job was as a sculpture instructor for the Pratt Institute in the early 1960s. From 1964 to 1987, he was at the New York Studio School, which he cofounded and which he directed during his first two years there. During the 1980s, he also taught variously at Vassar College, the Vermont Studio School, and the International School of Art. In addition, he would be an instructor at Brooklyn College, the University of California at Berkeley, and Southern Illinois University. As a writer, Geist was particularly well known for his books on Brancusi, including Brancusi: A Study of the Sculpture (1967), Constantin Brancusi, 1876–1957 (1969), and Brancusi: The Sculpture and the Drawings (1975), among others. To research these books, he taught himself Romanian so that he could travel to his subject's country and speak with local scholars and translate their texts. Geist was also the author of Interpreting Cezanne (1988), and contributed to art journals, sometimes under the pen name Otis Gage.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2005, p. B11.

New York Times, October 21, 2005, p. A23.

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