|Geoffrey Holder, photographed in 1989 by Arnold Newman.|
Geoffrey Holder, Multitalented Artist, Dies at 84
Text | Jennifer Dunning and William McDonald for The New York Times
Published | October 6, 2014
Geoffrey Holder, the dancer, choreographer, actor, composer, designer and painter who used his manifold talents to infuse the arts with the flavor of his native West Indies and to put a singular stamp on the American cultural scene, not least with his outsize personality, died on Sunday, October 5, 2014 in Manhattan. He was 84.
Painting was a constant for him. Whether life was hectic or jobs were scarce, he could usually be found in the SoHo loft he shared with [his wife Carmen] de Lavallade, absorbed in work that drew on folk tales and often delivered biting social commentary. On canvases throughout the studio, sensuous nudes jostled for space with elegantly dressed women, ghostly swimmers nestled beside black Virgin Marys, bulky strippers seemed to burst out of their skins, and mysterious figures peered out of tropical forests.
His work was shown at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington and at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. And then there was his photography, and his sculpture.
His visual creativity extended to costume designs, “The Wiz” being just one showcase. Another was John Taras’s 1982 production of “The Firebird” for the Dance Theater of Harlem, in which the Russian fairy tale was relocated to a tropical forest. Mr. Holder designed both the sets and the costumes, one of which was a blend of 30 or 40 colors. He earned another Tony nomination for best costume design for the 1978 Broadway musical “Timbuktu!,” an all-black show based on the musical “Kismet.” He also directed and choreographed “Timbuktu!”
Read full obituary here.