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Gerald M. Ackerman


1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Gerald M. Ackerman Obituary
August 21, 1928 - January 1, 2016 Gerald M. Ackerman, distinguished art historian, died Friday, January 1, 2016, peacefully, at his Claremont, California home; he was 87. Jerry was born in Alameda, California and grew up in Santa Cruz, California, the son of Alois and Eva Sadler Ackerman. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1952 and studied at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany; he achieved his doctorate in art history and architecture at Princeton University. Dr. Ackerman taught six years at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and then returned to California to teach as associate professor at Stanford University for five years. He moved to Pomona College in Claremont in 1970, where he became chairman of the Department of Art and Art History and was professor emeritus. Frances Pohl, current department chair and close friend, comments: "He was the driving force within the department throughout the 1970s and we will always be grateful to him for establishing such a strong institutional presence for art history." Dr. Ackerman was a premiere scholar of nineteenth century art and renowned for his book on the French painter and sculptor, Jean Léon Gér�me, whom he helped re-introduce to the art world. He published many other books and articles on American and European art and academic theory and is recognized especially for his book "Bargue- Gér�me Drawing Course," which he wrote with the help of artist Graydon Parrish and which is sold in museum book stores and is assigned reading in many art and drawing classes at schools across the country. His last work, yet-to-be published, was on the John Nava tapestries at Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. Dr. Ackerman was honored with the exclusive Order of Arts and Letters from France for exceptional achievement and in 2012 received a medal from the French Minister of Culture. In 2011, he was awarded the Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine's Trailblazer Award and its publisher, B. Eric Rhodes said of him: "He was one of the finest art historians of our time and his influence will be felt for generations." He spoke six languages and traveled all over Europe and the Middle East. He was passionate about the opera, especially those by Wagner, classical music and reading the numerous books he cherished. Jerry will not only be remembered for his intellect and scholarship, but also for his quick wit and his generosity. He was preceded in death by his husband and life-partner of fifty-two years, the actor and art historian, Leonard R. Simon, in 2014, who produced four plays Jerry had written. He has also been preceded in death by his parents, and his sister, Shirley Ackerman Spencer and niece, Maria Spencer Rowe. Gerald M. Ackerman is survived by his sister, Lois Ackerman Lawson, brother, Alois M. Ackerman; nieces Brennie Small, Anusuya StarBear, Laurel Del Pozo; nephews Robert G. Spencer, Tracy Johnson, Barry Spencer, Clay Johnson, Steven Spencer, Derek Johnson; fifteen great nieces and nephews; and five great, great nieces and nephews. Memorial services in Claremont and Santa Cruz, California are pending.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Jan. 8 to Jan. 9, 2016
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