1921 - 2013
REED, Orrel P., 92. Los Angeles artist, art dealer, writer, and art and architectural historian, died at his Malibu, California, home on May 26, 2013. Reed was a highly regarded art expert and dealer throughout his life, and made a major contribution to preserving the legacy of the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.
O.P. Reed was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1921, and raised in San Diego. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater. He earned a BFA in 1949 from Yale University and an MFA in Printmaking from the University of Southern California in 1951. After he and his wife exhibited their paintings at the Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles, Orrel P. Reed became a partner in 1951. He became a private art dealer and advisor to art collectors in 1959 on La Cienega's Art Gallery Row. Called "O.P." by his family and friends, his initial specialization in Old Master prints and drawings led to a broader understanding of works on paper, and earned him a reputation in the industry as a renowned expert.
Art collector Robert Rifkind retained O.P.'s services in the 1970s to build a comprehensive and scholarly collection of German Expressionist books and art, culminating in an exhibition that traveled nationally. O.P. authored the exhibition's catalog, German Expressionist Art: The Robert Gore Rifkind Collection, published in 1977.
O.P.'s work as an art appraiser led to his association with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, when in the early 1960s it became necessary for the Foundation to sell some of the art that Wright had collected. O.P. inventoried and appraised Wright's substantial collection of Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and assisted in their sale to two museums, raising funds that allowed the Foundation to continue its program of training young architects. His work with the Foundation brought him into contact with many of these apprentices, leading to life long friendships and wonderful associations. In 1983, O.P. worked with New York City gallery owner Max Protetch to handle sales of 100 Wright drawings. Between 1983 and 1988, O.P. acted as an advisor on a project to make reproductions of the Wright drawing collection available for research at the new Getty Center for the Study of Art & the Humanities in Santa Monica, CA.
O.P. and his wife lived a life full of art, music, and dynamic conversation. They enjoyed bringing the diverse art community together at their Malibu home for evenings of great food and spirited discourse. Once, when a Washington bureaucrat asked at a gathering, "What's art good for, anyway?" O.P. responded, "It's the only thing that matters in life."
O.P. was preceded in death by his brother, David F. Reed, and is survived by his wife of 66 years, Rosemary Bliss Reed, his brother the architect John A. Reed, three children, Adam Reed of Ashland, Oregon, Karen Lawrence of Eugene, Oregon, and Electra Reed O'Mara of Escondido, California, along with two grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Published in New York Times from Aug. 8 to Aug. 9, 2013.