Interdisciplinary artist Ronald Jones has passed away at the age of 67, according to the New York gallery Metro Pictures, which represented him in the 1980s and ’90s. A cause of death has not yet been reported.
Jones’s work was mainly sculptural, blending recreations of prominent cultural objects, such as a piano Salvador Dalí once painted or the first artificial heart, along with bits of text and abstract constructions.
The New York Times critic Roberta Smith once said that his “main goal seems to be to thwart the eye with formal incoherence and an overload of written information that the mind must digest before his pieces make sense. But the sense made is never visual. Instead, if one wades through the long illustrated paragraph that constitutes each work’s title, learning the artwork or event that each component represents, a kind of odd and often frightening poetic logic accrues.”
Jones’s propensity for verbose artwork ran parallel to his love for academia: until he passed, he served as senior tutor in service design at London’s Royal College of Art, and he lectured widely. In 1989, he was named Yale’s critic in sculpture, and was eventually named senior critic. Jones was appointed first provost by the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena in 2001. Furthermore, he served as professor of interdisciplinary studies at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. He also served on the faculty at Ahmedabad, India’s National Institute of Design, the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen, and the School of Visual Arts in New York, among others.
Jones’s criticism has been published in Frieze, Artforum, Art in America, and many others publications, and he penned the exhibition catalogues for artists such as David Salle, Laurie Simmons, Elizabeth Peyton, and Carroll Dunham.
Outside of the academic world, his art lives on in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Guggenheim, MOCA Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 2014, he received a survey exhibition at the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria.