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Prolific, Pugnacious, Famous Art Critic Robert Hughes Has Died

by Jerome Weeks 7 Aug 2012 10:11 AM

His eight-part documentary, The Shock of the New, was a landmark television event for avant-garde art when it ran on BCC and PBS.


Hughes’ eight-part documentary, The Shock of the New, ran on the BBC and PBS, garnering 25 million viewers, an incredible number for  a detailed history of avant-garde art from Impressionism to Pop art. Hughes was Time magazine’s lead art critic for more than three decades, but Shock and his bestselling history of his native Australia, The Fatal Shore, made him the best-known art critic in the world — famous, too, for his scathing appraisals of such artists as Jeff Koons and, at times, Andy Warhol.

Hughes was 74 and died after a long illness, said his wife, Doris Downes. In 1999, Hughes had a near-fatal car crash that left him with serious health problems.