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Krishna Reddy (1925–2018)

Krishna Reddy, a pioneering modernist printmaker and sculptor celebrated for his colorful, intricate abstractions that both revolutionized printmaking and radiated a sense of childlike wonder, died in New York on August 22 at age ninety-three, according to Experimenter, his Kolkata-based gallery. He is survived by his wife, the artist Judy Blum, as well as his daughter Aparna. Reddy is recognized throughout the world for his experiments in printmaking and especially for his mastery of intaglio printing, a form he often used to express his awe for nature.

Born in 1925 in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, India, Reddy earned his fine arts diploma from Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal, where he formed mentorships with Nandalal Bose and Ramkinkar Baij. After moving to London in 1949 and receiving a certificate in fine arts from the Slade School of Arts, he studied sculpture in Paris with Ossip Zadkine at the Academie Grande Chaumiere and engraving—specifically, multicolor viscosity etching—with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17, where Reddy later served as codirector. He nurtured friendships with Constantin Brancusi and Alberto Giacometti. In addition to being an enthusiastic pupil—he also studied sculpture in London with Henry Moore and in Italy with Marino Marini—Reddy became a teacher at places like New York University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, Pratt Institute, and the University of Texas, among other institutions. When he moved to New York in 1976, he formed the Color Print Academy. 

Reddy remained attuned to injustice throughout his life, participating in protests, including those of the Quit India movement. Amid Paris’s turbulent revolution in May 1968, he made the intaglio print titled Demonstrators and a pair of bronze sculptures titled Demonstration, which portray ethereal figures with their arms raised and are among his most famous works. Later in life, Reddy became interested in the subtle anguish of clowns and began depicting them in a series of works made following a trip to the circus with his daughter (who was captured as an infant in Apu Crawling, 1975). The artist was recognized with numerous awards, and his work is held in the collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Britain, the Kiran Nadar Museum in New Delhi, and M+ in Hong Kong. 

“Friendship knows no age and Krishna was our friend in the truest sense of the word and friend to all those who he met and touched with his work,” his gallery said in a statement. “His works remain in his absence as living extensions of his visions of life and we are extremely privileged to be the custodians of that legacy he leaves behind.”