Bruce Kurland, artist, father of Yetta, dies at 75

Bruce Kurland.

Bruce Kurland.

BY ALBERT AMATEAU  |  Bruce Kurland, a painter and the father of Yetta Kurland — a civil rights lawyer and two-time City Council candidate — died on Dec. 11 in Buffalo, N.Y., after a long illness. He was 75.

A Buffalo-area resident for many years, he was born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, according to an article on the Web site of the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Buffalo art gallery that represents his work.

Described as a “rough enigma” by Anthony Bannon, a friend and the director of the Burchfield gallery, Bruce Kurland moved to the small town of Curriers, near Buffalo, in the 1960s.

He served in the Coast Guard immediately after high school and studied at the Art Students League in Manhattan. He also studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C., and had his first one-person show in the Barzansky Gallery in Manhattan. John Canaday, The New York Times art critic at the time, said the works were by “a very strong talent.”

Kurland’s early work was also recognized in shows at the venerable Salmagundi Club, the National Academy of Design, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation.

His later work was influenced by 17th-century Dutch still-life painters and the 19th-century American painter John F. Peto. When his work took on a more abstract and surrealist turn in the late 1970s, Kurland became interested in the work of the Modernist painter and photographer Man Ray.

Kurland moved to Western New York with his wife, Toni Lamberti, in the late 1960s, but the couple separated and Kurland went to live in Oakland, Calif., according to Bannon. Kurland also made a trip to Ireland before returning to the Buffalo area, Bannon said,

Kurland’s still life “Bone, Cup and Crab Apple,” is included in the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington, and more than 70 of his paintings were featured in a traveling retrospective organized by the Burchfield Center for Western New York Art in 1983. His work was also exhibited in the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo and in the Washburn and Victoria Munroe galleries in Manhattan.

In addition to Yetta Kurland, two other daughters, Hannah and Justine, also survive along with two grandchildren and Kurland’s ex-wife. Donations may be sent in Bruce Kurland’s memory to the Art Students League of New York, 215 W. 57th St, N.Y., N.Y. 10019. A memorial service is planned in Manhattan for some time this month.

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2 Responses to Bruce Kurland, artist, father of Yetta, dies at 75

  1. hey my dad died 5 years ago, how come the Villager didn't write an obit for him too? I'm just as relevant.

  2. Bruce will always be remembered by me for the stunning still life of a possum, which I own, probably his only living "still life" for obvious reasons! .. a tiny possum clinging to the strut of a window pane. I recall him even more as one of the best of friends, his laughter and sparkling eyes, a source of encouragement and warmth through this rough ride of consciousness.
    His work could make death live in such beauty.. Art that could soften the bumps and heighten the joys of existence. I will miss him, always.

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