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Renowned Sculptor Dies After Apparent Suicide

November 20, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ Abstract sculptor Christopher Wilmarth, whose works are exhibited in major museums around the country, has died after apparently hanging himself in his studio-apartment, police said. He was 44.

Wilmarth was found Thursday at his Brooklyn residence, said police spokesman Detective Joseph McConville.

The sculptor’s body was discovered by his wife, Susan, who told police she had left about an hour earlier. She said Wilmarth had recently been under treatment for depression. He left no note.

Pending an autopsy, police listed the death as an apparent suicide.

Wilmarth’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Cooper Union Library and other museums and galleries in New York.

He also has pieces in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Fine Art, the St. Louis Museum and many other institutions.

″It seemed to me he had everything to live for,″ said Donald McKinney, the director of Herschel and Adler Modern Gallery in New York. ″He was 44, but he was in 30 of the great museums of the country and some very important corporate collections.″

McKinney, who said he knew the artist since the early 1960s, said he had just talked with the sculptor Tuesday. ″He told me he had a lot of new directions he wanted to go in.″

The gallery director said Wilmarth recently began treatment for depression, adding, ″I think there were some personal problems he wasn’t able to resolve.″

Wilmarth began making a reputation in the late 1960s, with his first one- man show in 1968. A gallery showing of his work last year was sold out before the show formally opened, McKinney recalled. Most of Wilmarth’s work was in the $40,000 to $90,000 range, he said.

Wilmarth was born in Sonoma, Calif., studied at the Cooper Union school of art in New York and became one of the leading proponents of the Constructivist School, which was characterized by its abstract designs and massive forms.

In a 1974 review in The New York Times, critic Hilton Kramer hailed Wilmarth as ″one of the leading sculptors of his generation.″

In addition to his wife, the artist is survived by his mother, Stephanie Stefanssen of New York; and a sister, Alison Wilmarth of California.