Influential Australian art critic, historian and writer Robert Hughes has died aged 74 in New York after a long illness, his family said yesterday.
Hughes, whom the New York Times once proclaimed the world’s most famous art critic, passed away at the Calvary Hospital in the Bronx on Monday.
“He had been very ill for some time,” said a statement from his wife, Doris Downes, who was with him when he died, without giving further details.
His niece Lucy Turnbull, married to high-profile Australian politician Malcolm Turnbull, said her uncle was a “real man’s man — he was a hunter, shooter and a fisher ... always wanting to know more about the world.”
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Hughes would be “very, very sorely missed.”
“Robert Hughes was one of our finest voices,” she said.
Born in Sydney in 1938, Hughes studied arts and architecture at Sydney University.
He left Australia for Britain in the early 1960s, writing for publications such as the Times and the Observer before landing a position as art critic for Time magazine in 1970, where he made his name.
In 1987 he published the international best seller The Fatal Shore, which examined the harsh life of convicts during the early European settlement of Australia, a work Time called “a staggering achievement.”