In Memoriam: Peter Selz (1919-2019)
July 2, 2019
Alumnus Peter Selz (PhD ‘54), a leading curator at the Museum of Modern Art from 1958 to 1964 and later a founding director of the University Art Museum, Berkeley, died on June 21 in Albany, California. He was 100.
Over the course of his career, Selz wrote over fifty books and articles on art and art history, and befriended artists such as Mark Rothko and Sam Francis. He also formed friendships with several artists he met during his time as a graduate student in art history at the University of Chicago.
After escaping Germany under National Socialism at the age of 17, Selz attended the University on the GI Bill, studying Art History under professors Ulrich Middeldorf and Joshua C. Taylor . In 1954, Selz earned his PhD with a 600-page dissertation that examined the work of artists such as Kandinsky, Beckmann, and Emil Nolde within social and political contexts. It became an extremely influential book within the field, German Expressionist Painting, and is still in print.