Alexander Eliot

Obituary
2 entries | 1 photo
  • "An honor to have met the man!"
    - David Hinnebusch
  • "A beautiful life, indeed! It was a joy and an honor to know..."
    - Corinne Demas
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1919 - 2015
Alexander Eliot is the author of eighteen books on art, mythology, history, and novels. He is also the author of hundreds of essays, published in magazines as varied as The Eastern Buddhist and England's Systematics, and, most well-known, his weekly column when he was the art editor of Time Magazine from 1945 to 1960. He knew most artists who lived in New York, but he also had encounters with artists abroad. In his (as yet unpublished) memoir he recounts encounters with Matisse, Picasso, and his dear friend Salvador Dali.
300 Years of American Painting was published in 1959 and selected by John F. Kennedy as one of his favorite books. That same year Alexander was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and moved to Spain where he wrote Sight and Insight. Deciding to become a freelance writer, he took his family to live in Greece and continued to write for Life, Time, and many other magazines as he and his family traveled around Europe and the Middle and Far East. 1n 1975 he received a fellowship to study Zen Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan.
In 1968, when he lived in Rome, he and his wife Jane spent six weeks in the Sistine Chapel to research a documentary on Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling. Their 'research' was done by having a scaffold built on wheels that they could lie on top of: this way they could be as close to Michelangelo's work as he was himself. The hour-long documentary, "The Secret of Michelangelo – Every Man's Dream," was shown on ABC primetime, but Alex insisted there not be any commercial interruptions, because the work had to be experienced in its entirety! And the network agreed.
From his bio in Who's Who:
ELIOT, ALEXANDER, writer; born Cambridge, Mass., April 28, 1919; son of Samuel Atkins, Jr. and Ethel Cook Eliot; married Jane Winslow Knapp, May 3, 1952; children: May Rose, Jefferson, Winslow. Student, Black Mountain College, 1936-38. Boston Museum School, 1938-39. Director, Pinkney Street Artists Alliance, Boston, 1940-41; asst. to producer March of Time newsreel, 1941-42; asst. dir films Office of War info., 1942-44; art editor Time Magazine, 1945-1960; Prof. emeritus program Hampshire College, 1977; Editor Parabola Magazine 1995-96; contributing editor Harvard Magazine, 1988-1995; author of Proud Youth, Three Hundred Years of American Painting, Sight and Insight, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, Greece, Love Play, Creatures of Arcadia, Socrates, A Concise History of Greece, Myths, Zen Edge, Fisher's Guide to Greece, Abraham Lincoln, The Universal Myths, The Global Myths, The Timeless Myths; film (with Jane Winslow Eliot) The Secret of Michelangelo, Every Man's Dream; Guggenheim fellow, 1960; Japan Foundation senior fellow 1975; Member of the Century Association and Dutch Treat Club, NYC. "The moon, the planets, pass around my heart. The sun shines into me, and in me as well. Yet what am I? A goose-pimpled crazy on a skewed glass bicycle, continually crashing into scribbled walls. And this moment, this being is the thing."
Published on NYTimes.com from May 8 to May 9, 2015