Hilton Kramer, former chief art critic for the New York Times and founder of the journal The New Criterion, died this morning in Harpswell, Me., according to the Times. He was 84. The cause is reported to be heart failure.
The conservative critic joined the Times in 1965 and went on to found The New Criterion in 1982, serving as its editor during the Culture Wars of the 1980s, during which he attacked the National Endowment for the Arts, criticized populism at art museums and lambasted political art. He defended modernism against its critics in the postmodernist movement.
While denigrating Pop and Conceptual art, Kramer championed Milton Avery and Arthur Dove, as well as sometimes surprising artists like Julian Schnabel and Odd Nerdrum.
Born in Massachusetts, Kramer had earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Syracuse University in 1950. He studied literature and philosophy at Columbia, the New School for Social Research and Harvard.
Photo: Hilton Kramer, 1982, photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders