Sam Middleton
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1927 - 2015
Sam Middleton
Born 2 April 1927 New York City; deceased 19 July 2015 Schagen, Netherlands

American artist Sam Middleton died peacefully on Sunday, July 19th in Schagen, Netherlands at the age of 88. He was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in Harlem. In his youth he often visited the nearby Savoy Ballroom and music-jazz and classical-became important inspirations for his artistic endeavors. Middleton primarily worked with mixed media, and particularly collage. He developed a personal style in the language of abstract expressionism, often basing his color, line, and compositions on sound and harmony. The Dutch landscape and the visual environment of the Netherlands, his home since the1960s, greatly influenced his work as well.

Middleton joined the Merchant Marines in 1944. Upon his return to New York City in the 1950s, he relocated to Greenwich Village, meeting and befriending writers, artists, and jazz musicians. In the early 1950s, Middleton was part of New York's Cedar Tavern scene, which included his friends Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline. Middleton was part of the considerable contingency of expatriate African American artists in Europe. In 1955 he moved to Mexico, then Spain, Sweden and Denmark, finally settling in Holland in 1961. In the Netherlands, Middleton taught at Atelier 63 in Haarlem and the Royal Academy of Art in 's Hertogenbosch. He exhibited regularly in Holland; the exhibition Sam Middleton: Poems to Life in 2003, organized by the Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst, included dedications to Middleton by James Baldwin, Romare Bearden, Ted Joans and others.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Middleton's work was regularly shown in American museums, including New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum in New York and the Baltimore Museum of Art. His work was featured in the Studio Museum in Harlem exhibition, An Ocean Apart: American Artists Abroad (1983). From Europe he sustained his reputation in the United States, resulting in his inclusion in several prominent books on African American art. Middleton's work is found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, Hampton University Museum in Virginia, the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.'s Howard University. Collected internationally, Middleton's work is held by museums in Australia, Israel and The Netherlands, including Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum and Venlo's Van Bommel Van Dam Museum, which organized a Middleton retrospective in 1997.

He is survived by his wife Hansje Kalff of Schagen, three children, a stepson, eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

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Published in New York Times from Jul. 29 to Jul. 30, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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17 entries
October 7, 2019
We think of Sam still often, and these many years later we treasure that we can still see his work every day. Will never forget our visit to Sam en Hansje in the atelier, so warm, so surrounded with marvelous objects and creations.
Love, Monica Germino and Louis Andriessen
Monica and Louis Andriessen
March 18, 2017
My condolence, his work was great,i am happy to have a piece of his creativity in my house.
Philippe Braspenning
February 8, 2016
I am so distressed to learn, only now, of Sam's death.
We saw each other frequently in the '60's and '70's, when I promoted his work in Brussels. And occasionally in the years after, in Paris.
My love to Hansje, through my tears.
Joan Shore
January 20, 2016
I have just discovered that Sam has passed on. Very sad. I met him in Amsterdam in the 60s and enjoyed many happy times in his company. He is fondly remembered...
Kwesi Kwaa Prah
November 12, 2015
I only just heard about John A Williams leaving us, phoned Lori and she told me about Sam. I met him through John and saw his lovely exhibition in 2003. A lovely man. He'll be a big miss, as we say up here in the north of England.
Amina Evans
October 13, 2015
What a tremendous loss. My sincere condolences go to Mr. Middleton's family. I recently acquired a painting by him and did not know he had passed on until today.
Bertram Clark
October 12, 2015
We lived in the same building on West 183rd Street in NYC, more than 60 years ago and though it's been that long since we've seen or talked to Sam, the memory of him lingers on. George and Lorraine Isom
September 21, 2015
I am just hearing about this tremendous loss. I was able to purchase several of Sam's works a few years ago directly from him (through Hansje) and Sam sent me several catalogs inscribed to me and telling me to come visit. I had hoped to do that to meet this wonderful artist in person. That can't happen now, but at least I do have some of his gorgeous works on my walls.
Ellie Tweedy
August 28, 2015
Oh, Hansje, I'm so sorry for your loss. Sam was such a great guy. Hugs to you. Judi
Judi Johnson
August 28, 2015
Sam Middleton's art inspires me; I'm deeply honored to have his creativity in my collection.
Rick Huntley
August 12, 2015
I am blessed by your artistic genius everyday. Rest in Peace.
Andrea Young
August 8, 2015
My condolences to the family of this great African-American expatriate- an artistic genius.
Bertram Clark-Oakland, California
August 4, 2015
Another one of our national treasures gone. RIP Sam. Gone but not forgotten. Your art will live for ever.

Peace and Blessings,
Donnell Walker
July 30, 2015
My condolences to the family during this difficult time. May you find comfort in knowing that God will help you heal in time (Psalm 147:3).
July 30, 2015
Love to you Sam!
Your Brother Bush
Norman Bush
July 30, 2015
Love to Sam! Your Brother Bush.
Sam Middleton LIVES
Bush Norman
July 30, 2015
Lieve Hansje, ik zag vandaag pas opt Twitter dat Sam is overleden. Hij heeft een mooie leeftijd bereikt, maar zo'n afscheid komt toch altijd te vroeg... Bij deze mijn welgemeende condoléances. Heel veel sterkte voor ju en de overige achterblijvers.
Fon Zwart
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