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‘The Most Famous Art Critic in the World’ — a Familiar TV Presence — Dead at 74

Aug 7, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The man who has been described as "the most famous art critic in the world" has died at 74 after a long illness.

Robert Hughes, the longtime art critic for Time magazine and the creator of the television documentary "The Shock of the New," died Monday at a hospital in the Bronx, reports The New York Times.

Hughes was often involved in television, both in front of and behind the camera. More than 25 million viewers watched the eight-part "The Shock of the New" when it aired on BBC and then on PBS, the story notes. Hughes was described as "the most famous art critic in the world" in 1997 by the writer Robert S. Boynton.

"It was decidedly not Mr. Hughes’s method to take prisoners,” The Times reports. “He was as damning about artists who fell short of his expectations as he was elegiac about those who [lived up to them], and his prose seemed to reach only loftier heights when he was angry. As early as 1993, he described the work of Jeff Koons as ‘so overexposed that it loses nothing in reproduction and gains nothing in the original.’”

Hughes’ history of his native country, Australia, became a best-seller with "The Fatal Shore," which was published in 1987. He continued to write after a car crash that nearly killed him in Australia in 1999. Last year, he published "Rome," a history that The New York Times describes as "highly personal."

His history in television included a short-lived stint on "20/20," the article notes. Hughes was recruited in 1978 to anchor the new ABC program, but he received sharply negative reviews and the network quickly tapped Hugh Downs to replace him, according to the piece.

robert-hughes.jpgRobert Hughes

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