AUDETTE, ANNA HELD Anna Held Audette, a distinguished teacher and artist whose paintings of industrial ruins and obsolete machinery chronicled the decline of American industry, died on June 9th after a long illness. She was 74 years old. Born in New York City in 1938, Anna was the daughter of Julius Held, an eminent art historian, and Ingrid Marta Held, the Conservator for the New York Historical Society. After attending the Brearley, she graduated from Smith College where she studied drawing and printmaking with Leonard Baskin. After Smith, she spent a year exploring art conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, but after realizing that she preferred making art to preserving it, she came to New Haven and the Yale School of Art in 1962. While at Yale she studied printmaking with Gabor Peterdi. After graduating from Yale with an MFA she started what would be her life's career at Southern Connecticut State University, teaching drawing and printmaking. Her own work evolved from printmaking to painting around 1980, and her works are at The Fitzwilliam Museum, The Rijksmuseum, The National Gallery of Science, NASA, The National Gallery of Art, The Yale University Art Gallery, Smith College Museum of Art, The Currier Museum of Art and The New Britain Museum of American Art, among many others, as well as in numerous private collections. In 1991 she was inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2000 she was invited to become a Fellow of Morse College at Yale. Early work shows her formative interest in structure- a signature element that would define her style and imagery throughout her career. From an appreciation of morphology in her drawings of human anatomy she moved to its analogies in military body armor. As her personal style developed, first as a graphic artist and then as a painter, she found an interest in discarded and obsolete machinery. She began her lifelong exploration of junkyards and old industrial settings. She traveled widely, seeking troves of neglected vehicles, buildings and industrial machinery. When she was invited by the Air Force to visit the Davis Monthan Aircraft Storage Facility in Arizona in 1983, she essentially ignored the facility's ordered rows of struck-off military and civil aircraft. Instead, she was drawn to the breaker yards just outside the base, where the formerly elegant machines were stripped and then destroyed for recycling. She produced a striking series of studies of mothballed freighters in the US Naval Reserve Fleet anchored in Suisun Bay, north of San Francisco. One of her most productive sources, in terms of inspiration and access, was a large metals recycling yard in North Haven, Connecticut, where she was able to achieve the ideal expressed by the modern painter she most admired, Charles Sheeler, who wrote, "a picture should have incorporated in it the structural design implied in abstraction and be presented in a wholly realistic manner". Many of the paintings are examples of Audette's preference for examining segments of objects or settings in order to emphasize their inherent qualities of shape, color and complex associations. She wrote, "The literal and evocative meanings of these subjects strike a responsive chord in me and provide variations on a theme that has been central to my paintings for a long time. The relics remind us that, in our rapidly changing world, the triumphs of technology are just a moment away from obsolescence. Yet these remains of collapsed power have a strength, grace and sadness that is both eloquent and impenetrable. Transfigured by time and light, which render the ordinary extraordinary, they form a visual requiem for the industrial age." Anna Held Audette contributed photographs and illustrations to a number of childrens' and poetry books and was the author of The Blank Canvas, 100 Creative Drawing Ideas and, most recently, RUINS, Poems and Paintings of a Vanishing America, with Suzanne Nothnagle. She is survived by her husband, Louis, of 49 years, her brother, two daughters and three grandchildren. Contributions in Anna's memory may be made to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.
Published by The New Haven Register from Jun. 15 to Jun. 16, 2013.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
I am so sorry I never got to meet this inspiring woman. Her work was the basis of a study of machinery carried out by my students for the centennial of our town. We pored over her pictures on the internet and dissected each one. Our endeavours, although not of the high standard of Anna Held Audette, were of a higher standard than could have been possible without her example. I think it is a wonderful reflection of her as an artist that she could motivate students in a country thousands of miles away.
January 2, 2014
Anna was a such great teacher and she had a profound impact on me as a student at SCSU.
August 14, 2013
Anna, Thanx for 5 years of the best memories of my artistic life. I learned so much in that printing room that it still makes my head spin. You truly are an inspiration and I thank my blessings for being one of your students.
August 11, 2013
I am sorry for your loss. My wife and I were talking the other day about how influential the role of a professor plays in the life of an artist. I will always remember when I was a student and struggled to refine an idea, as all young artists do. She would hurry back to the closet and pull out several books and show me a variety of examples of how other artists resolved a similar problem. She would always push and prod us to work harder and dig deeper. She was tough but fair. A great teacher. I am now an art professor in NC, and I do the same with my students. Her legacy lives on.
August 11, 2013
Anna was a true artist and taught me well for years at SCSU. Thanks Anna, I will never forget what you shared!
August 10, 2013
In 1987, Anna did the photography for my collection, CLICK, RUMBLE, ROAR: POEMS ABOUT MACHINES (HarperCollins). I am saddened to hear of her death. Lee Bennett Hopkins www.leebennetthopkins.com
LEE BENNETT HOPKINS
July 7, 2013
We had the privilege of meeting Anna, only once. But it will be a memory that we will never forget. We danced in her charming home as she sat in front of an Art Work in Progress. We remember her as being stately, beautiful and at peace with her surroundings. She will be dearly missed, but what a legacy she leaves behind. We consider it a blessing to have met her.
Bob and Joyce Bushey
June 22, 2013
Anna was a colleague of mine during our wonderful years together at Southern Connecticut State University. She was a remarkable teacher, a true academic and a marvelous colleague. Her students and fellow faculty members have had the highest regard for her and will continue to hold her in high esteem. She was a kind and loving person and I greatly admired her and her outstanding accomplishments. With my sincere condolences. Nancy Via