Legendary artist, designer and animator Suzan Pitt, known worldwide for her trailblazing, surreal and avant-garde animated shorts, installations, paintings and hand-painted coats, has passed away from cancer at age 75.
In an Instagram post made yesterday, her daughter-in-law, Laura Kraning, wrote, “We are so sorry to report the very sad news that our dear Suzan Pitt passed away yesterday morning at her home in New Mexico. She was very private about her illness but she would want you all to know how much you all meant to her. Her son, Blue Kraning, and I thank you for your friendship and kindness during this very difficult time. She will be missed by so many.”
Pitt is well known in the animation world for her seminal shorts, including Asparagus (1979), Joy Street (1995) and El doctor (2006), which won numerous international awards and appeared in countless curated programs. The Academy Film Archive has preserved many of her works including Asparagus, Joy Street, Whitney Commercial, Bowl, Garden, Theatre, Marble Game and Crocus. Earlier this month, in a June 3rd ceremony, Pitt was honored in Zagreb with the Animafest 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival also hosted a fashion event at Kranjčar Gallery, that included an exhibition and sale of 10 one-of-a-kind, hand-painted coats made famous by Patricia Field, the iconic stylist known for her work on Sex and the City. The festival also screened a retrospective of Pitt’s finest films, programmed by Mark Toscano from the archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Originally from Kansas City, Pitt lived and worked in Europe, Mexico and the U.S. Her prolific career spanned decades; her unique, abstract designs and deeply intimate portrayals of women, sexuality and the foibles of contemporary society, as well as humanity’s exploitation of nature, were common themes in a diverse body of work that included production of numerous animated film projects, large murals and multimedia installations; designing animated objects for two German operas (Damnation of Faust and The Magic Flute); and creation of hand-painted coats, starting in the 1980s, that quickly became hugely coveted in the fashion world.
Her paintings adorn numerous private as well as public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Ludwig Museum in Germany; her art has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Arts, the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Venice Biennale. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship as well as three National Endowment of the Arts production grants, Pitt also taught experimental animation at Cal Arts and Harvard University, where she was an Associate Professor.
Visit Pitt’s website for an extensive selection of her prolific and thought-provoking body of work.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-at-Large of Animation World Network.