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Colleagues, friends pay tribute to Lindsay

By : Katie Ellis

Kenneth Lindsay, 89, professor emeritus of art history, died Monday, March 2, after a brief illness.

A cryptographer with the U.S. Army during World War II, Lindsay served as a Monuments Man with the Army’s Fine Arts and Archives Section, helping to save and preserve thousands of Europe’s valuable art treasures that had been seized by the Nazis. A recipient of the University Medal in 2007 for his contributions as a Monuments Man, Lindsay is remembered by friends, former students and colleagues as, first and foremost, an inspiring and inspired teacher who was dedicated to his students.

“He had that rare gift of passion; there was nothing inaccessible,” said Susan Stein BA ’78, MA ’80, now a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “He always encouraged us to rely on our observations. What we could learn and understand was only limited by our curiosity. He gave us the stimulus to want to know more and set an example for scholarship and erudition and eloquence.”

Lindsay is also credited by colleagues as the founder of the Department of Art History, which he chaired for 17 years, as well as for seeing the department through several stages of development.

“He not only founded us, but he took us to another level as the University developed into a doctoral institution, and that’s the platform on which we still stand,” said John Tagg, the current department chair. “He was a scholar who was willing to do everything in a real nuts and bolts way. I have no idea if he painted the walls of the museum, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”

Tagg noted that Lindsay’s contributions to the entire University were broad and deep.

“He came right back from World War II and his experiences enabled him to teach the GI Bill students and a wide range of people,” he said. “Ken was always committed to public education and did everything to build the University and the department.”

Tagg organized the last course Lindsay taught as a Bartle Professor. “I asked him to do the intro course, a perfect idea because it allowed the maximum number of students to have contact with him.”

The author of numerous articles and books on art and artists, ranging from early American to modern, Lindsay was remembered by Professor Emeritus of Music Harry Lincoln as an exceptional teacher.

“In the early years, Ken and I gave some joint lectures in what was then called humanities,” Lincoln said. “Almost the whole class was in it and it dealt a great deal with literature, but we had lectures together about art and music. He knew a lot about music (he was an accomplished cellist), so I learned a lot from him. He was very enthusiastic and had big ideas in the sense that he would make some sweeping suggestions but then point out some details. He was knowledgeable about a wide range of art and as a musician he could contribute as well.”

Though Lindsay’s knowledge was broad, the center of his scholarship was his contribution on Kandinsky, a Russian-born French expressionist painter, colleagues said.

“His writings are the backbone of this field on Kandinsky,” Stein said.

Lindsay retired from full-time service to the University in 1989 and served as a Bartle Professor for two additional years. He is survived by his wife, Christine, a son and daughter-in-law, a daughter and son-in-law, a brother and two grandchildren. A memorial service is being planned for the campus and details will be announced as they become available.

Memorial contributions in Lindsay’s name may be made to the Binghamton University Foundation, P.O. Box 6005, Binghamton, N.Y. 13902.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08