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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Artist Helene Brandt dies at 76

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Riverdale Press file photo by Mekea Fishlin
Helene Brandt models a mask she had been working on in her East Village studio in 1999.

Helene Brandt, an artist, teacher and longtime resident of Riverdale died on Aug. 27 in Forrest Dunes, N.C. at the age of 76.  The cause of death was drowning.

Ms. Brandt, who resided for 53 years in Riverdale, was an award-winning sculptor whose work was exhibited at Wave Hill and throughout the United States and Europe.

A Nov. 25, 1999 story in The Press featuring Ms. Brandt described a group of her sculptures as “playgrounds for adults designed by the fantastical painter Hieronymus Bosch.”

The artist was not only motivated by aesthetics, but by the physical act of creating.

“Sculpture has everything I want,” she said.  “I’m working with my body but I can also be the viewer.

A former dancer, Ms. Brandt said her desire to further explore relationships in space and to create a sense of permanence led to her pursuit of the visual arts.  She said dance “disappeared when you stop,” but sculpture was a means to “catch time.” 

An artist in residence at Northern State College in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1980 with a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Ms. Brandt was also a Guggenheim Fellow from 1985 to 1986.

Ms. Brandt’s work was shown in venues throughout the Bronx and Manhattan as well as in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Venezuela.

In addition to working as an artist, Ms. Brandt taught at Columbia University, the School of Visual Arts, the Parsons School of Design and the Pratt Institute, among other schools and arts institutions.

Born on Sept. 17, 1936 in Philadelphia, Pa., Ms. Brandt earned a bachelor’s degree in education at CUNY and later a master’s in fine arts at Columbia University.

Ms. Brandt met her husband Philip Brandt, Professor Emeritus of Anatomy at Columbia University, at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts in the summer of 1954 and married the following October.  Their union produced two sons.

During her life, Ms. Brandt was an avid hiker and spent time trekking throughout Harriman State Park and along the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails.

Her husband and their sons, David and Daniel, survive Ms. Brandt.

A memorial service will be announced later.  The burial location is yet to be determined.

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