Theodore (Ted) Halkin (1924-2020) Chicago artist, well-loved husband, father, professor, and friend, died on August 11, 2020 at the age of 96. Ted was associated with the 1950s group of Chicago artists known as the Monster Roster. Like many in this group, he was a WWII veteran and is also considered one of the progenitors of the Hairy Who generation of Chicago Imagists. Ted was a prolific and adventurous artist who worked in many different mediums, moving conceptually and stylistically between abstraction and representation in two– and three–dimensional works over his long career. For Ted, art was a practice of life.
Halkin’s works demonstrated an intense, even startling intimacy with materials, which he plumbed to explore perception. This included the creation of his garden and the many paintings and drawings capturing its rhythmic growth, variegated blossoming, and even decay across the seasons. Ted’s nurturing spirit and vigor extended to his students and the art community. Well-read and thoughtful, Ted was also a generous visionary, establishing the prestigious Imagist Collection at Elmhurst College that today brings international attention to Chicago artists.
Halkin was awarded a BFA from the School of the Art Institute in 1949 and an MS from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1952. Ted was an exhibit designer at the Field Museum in Chicago from 1961 to 1964. This experience inspired some of his relief paintings and sculptural works, including the dioramas of his Evanston bungalow home. He began his long illustrious teaching career at Purdue University, followed by Northwestern University, Elmhurst College, and then the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he taught for close to 40 years until the age of 85. Halkin’s work was presented in solo and group exhibitions at galleries representing his work in Chicago and New York, including Allan Frumkin, Phyllis Kind, Jan Cicero, and Corbett vs Dempsey. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Davenport Museum of Art, Iowa, among others. Halkin’s work is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Illinois State Museum, Brauer Museum of Art (Valparaiso, Indiana), Smart Gallery at the University of Chicago, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Cleveland Art Institute, and other private and public collections. The Illinois State Museum (ISM) organized a major traveling retrospective in 2000. Interviews with Halkin are included in the ISM of 12 retrospective catalogue, and recordings can be accessed from Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Art: Chicago Art and Artists: Oral History Project, https://www.aaa.si.edu and the Art Institute’s Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, Artists Oral History Archive, https://digital-libraries.artic.edu.
Ted was the beloved husband of the late Edith, devoted father of Sylvia Halkin and Daniel Halkin (Lisa Patterson); son of the late Sylvia and Harry (Herschel) Halkin and caring brother of the late Thelma Suchard and Leslie Halkin; well-loved by his nieces, nephews, and close friends George Liebert, Susan Frankel, and Michele Feder-Nadoff. Funeral services are private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Greater Chicago Food Depository, www.chicagosfoodbank.org, or Americas Media Initiative, www.americasmediainitiative.org.