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ERIC GUSTAV CARLSON

Born: November 8, 1940
Died: December 14, 2016

The obituary essay prepared by Eric's sister, Karen Ogden, beautifully described Eric's life and we print it here in full:

Eric Gustav Carlson of New York City died on December 14, 2016. Born to Gustav and Elizabeth Carlson in Cincinnati, OH, on November 8, 1940, Eric is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Karen and Terry Ogden, of Charlottesville, VA, and by his nephew, Alex Ogden, and his niece, Amy Ogden, and their families.

Eric graduated from Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati and was very attached to both the school and the city throughout his life. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Yale in medieval art and architecture. His doctoral dissertation, "The Abbey Church of Saint-Étienne at Caen in the Eleventh and Early Twelfth Centuries," is recognized as the authoritative study of this church. A professor of art history at SUNY-Purchase from 1978 until his retirement in 2006, he was a dedicated and beloved teacher. His students described him as well prepared, thorough, demanding, engaging, and caring.

While still in high school, Eric developed an abiding interest in archaeology and participated in excavations for the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. This fascination continued during his years at Yale, when he was active in underwater excavations off the coast of Bodrum, Turkey, and on the island of Kea in Greece. His excavations in France--at Saint-Étienne, Psalmodi, and Forcalqueiret--resulted in a number of highly regarded scholarly publications.

In the 1970s Eric started a second career as an art dealer specializing in French and American prints and drawings of the 19th century. He was particularly interested in the works of such lesser known artists as Henry Monnier, Henri Guérard, and Jean Veber, and in the art that came out of World War I. Known for his sharp eye and vast knowledge, Eric was considered an expert in his field. He was a long-standing member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association, serving on its board and in many other capacities for much of the past quarter century.

Eric was a witty raconteur who delighted in puns. He was generous both to his friends and to a wide range of institutions, donating books and art to Yale, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Rutgers University among others. Of particular significance is his donation of more than 3,000 objects of World War I era art to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. He loved children, Cincinnati, France, and model trains, a lifelong hobby. He formed deep and enduring friendships and will be greatly missed by family and friends.

If friends wish, donations in Eric's name can be made to the Eric Carlson '58 Memorial Fund, Walnut Hills High School Alumni Foundation, 3250 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45207, or online at this URL

In his 50th reunion biography Eric reported that he had been married twice, the most recent ending in 1977 "and both times to graduate students in Art History." He had no children.

We supply also a brief summary of Eric's Yale career: He was a member of Trumbull and served on its Council as secretary and then as president and played on the Trumbull baseball and softball teams. He was a member of Zeta Psi and Yale Key. Eric was an American Studies major.

Excerpts from an eloquent memorial by our classmate Fred Starr:

"Eric spent his last two high school summers doing archaeological work with me in the Cincinnati area. I had been already spent three summers excavating a 2,000 year-old Indian mound just downriver from Cincinnati. When the archaeologist in charge fell out with the director of the Museum of Natural History, which sponsored the project, I was asked to head the dig during the final season. I immediately asked Eric to join me.

"In early evenings and on weekends during that summer of our junior year Eric and I began prowling the entire Ohio/Indiana/Northern Kentucky region for forgotten ancient villages and earthworks. I proposed that we devote the next summer to researching an archeological history of Hamilton County, in which Cincinnati is situated. The head of the Museum of Natural History, Dr. Ralph Dury, found the money and Eric and I were off and running.

"Those summers spent scouring the region for ancient remains changed both Eric and me. We lived in the ancient past, and dealt with the present mainly through the hundreds of farmers whose lands we crisscrossed. Many of them regaled us with home-made bourbon and cigars rolled from their own tobacco. Before camping for the night we heard a number of fine rural fiddlers and banjo pickers. Eric loved these rustic musicians, as yet untouched by the country music revival that was to burst out a few years later in the urban Northeast.

"When we showed up in the city it was mainly to gorge ourselves at the Empress Chili Parlor on East Fifth Street and to explore some of the fine old homes from the early nineteenth century that moldered away in the Third Street area and in the old West End. We would then turn to the archives at the historical society (then still known quaintly as the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio) for information on these forgotten landmarks, and old prints and photographs of them.

"Eric and I maintained contact through our years at Yale and through his graduate student years, but we lost touch thereafter. Only during his last years did we renew our old friendship. In spite of a half-century of suspended contact, we were very close. And not by accident, for we shared a glorious period of enchantment and then the feeling of hollowness that set in thereafter. Eric dealt with all this with steadiness and nobility. Drawing on the insights and inclinations of his youth, he invented a life that was productive, useful, and emphatically all his own. Even strangers sensed this authenticity about him, just as they were quick to appreciate his warmth, capacity for enthusiasm, and gift for friendship."

Contributed by John Harger Stewart




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