In Memoriam

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Waldo Rasmussen ’54

Waldo Rasmussen ’54, August 15, 2013, in New York City, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Tekoa, Washington, whose father was a Native American, Waldo worked at the Portland Art Museum while he was at Reed, where he earned a BA in general literature and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He attended graduate school at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York and then joined the Museum of Modern Art, where he worked on the preparation and circulation of traveling exhibitions and became director of the department of circulating exhibitions in 1962. The experience, he said, “made me understand what it felt like to see exhibitions and original works of art for the first time after having seen them in reproductions only—away from the ‘center.’ It’s shaped the way I’ve always worked.” When the International Program became an independent department in 1969, Waldo was appointed to direct it. He organized the first exhibitions of modern American art to be sent abroad, an experience that he cited among the high points of his career. His landmark exhibition was Two Decades of American Paintings 1945–65 and American Abstract Expressionists, and he assembled the most extensive survey of modern Latin American art in the exhibition Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century. He retired in 1994. In addition to his work in art, he enjoyed classical music, dance and theatre performances, and film. Waldo and Gail Marie (Geraldine) Preston ’52 were married in 1953 and had a son and daughter. Waldo is survived by his life companion and spouse, John Dowling; his son; and three grandchildren.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2014

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