Barton Lidice Benes

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  • "The flood of outrageously fun memories with Barton starting..."
  • "I was inspired by Barton's thought process and his art..."
    - Jack Massing
  • "Dear Benes family, I am so sorry for your loss and you have..."
    - V W
  • "His passing makes me very sad. He will remain in my memory..."
    - Boris Nikitin
  • "My deepest condolances. Barton will stay in my memory for..."
    - Stefan Andersson
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1942 - 2012
Barton Lidice Beneš died peacefully May 30, 2012 after a long illness. Barton was born in Westwood, NJ, November 16, 1942, and graduated from Pratt Institute in New York.

Beneš transformed fragments of our throwaway culture into art that sometimes addressed taboo subjects and often used unconventional materials including cremation ashes, shells, bodily fluids, currency and shredded money, relics, celebrity artifacts and found objects. For Beneš, money was a rich palate of color and imagery, and a powerful symbol. Beneš's reliquaries, displays of thematically composed collectibles and relics, were celebrated in the book Curiosa (Abrams, 2002).

Beneš was a warrior in the AIDS fight and served on the board of Visual AIDS (2003-2009). He chronicled his own HIV+ status in Lethal Weapons, a series of works created with his own blood. This exhibit toured Europe in the 1990's. He was featured in documentaries about his art, the AIDS epidemic and gay history (Gay Sex in the Seventies by Lovett Productions).

Beneš participated in the award-winning Ebb Tide project at the North Dakota Museum of Art (NDMOA) in Grand Forks. Victims of the 1997 flood brought remnants from their devastated homes to the museum that Beneš then made into art.

Work by Beneš is exhibited internationally and in permanent collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Smithsonian, and The U.S. Mint. In 2012, he received the Wyn Newhouse Award for his work.

The Westbeth studio, where he lived for more than 40 years, will be reassembled at the NDMOA as a permanent installation. Locally his work can be seen at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Manhattan.

He was predeceased by his partner, Howard Meyer, and is survived by brother Warren, sister-in-law Sam, many nephews, nieces, two godsons and many loving friends. A memorial service and an exhibition of his art will be planned for the fall.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to help with the transfer of Beneš's collections to the NDMOA thus bringing his dream to life and continuing his legacy. Checks should be made payable to "The North Dakota Museum of Art" with memo of "Help Move Beneš Collection". Mail checks to Beneš Collection, c/o Teran, 302A West 12th Street, #102, New York, NY 10014.

For more information on the museum, visit their website at
Published on from June 11 to June 12, 2012
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