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RIP Kaari Upson: Untimely death of artist rocks art world

Mafalda Costa August 19, 2021
kaari upson
Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

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On Thursday, 19 August, Kaari Upson’s daughter shared a post on Instagram announcing her mother had passed away following a battle with cancer. Admirers of Upson’s work have taken to Twitter to share their condolences with the artist’s family.

Who was California-born artist Kaari Upson?

Kaari Upson was an artist who lived and worked in Los Angeles.

Upson was born in 1970 in San Bernadino, California.

She became known for her single series entitled The Larry Project (2005-12) – a vast compendium of drawings, sculptures, videos and performances.

Through this ambitious series of works, Upson explored the identity of a man whom she had never met – a neighbour of her parents.

According to Sprüth Magers, throughout her career, the scale and ambition of Upson’s projects steadily expanded, culminating in room-sized installations.

For the 2019 Venice Biennale, she recreated her mother’s childhood dolls’ house in There is No Such Thing As Outside (2017-2019), by enlarging it to a more than lifesize scale.

That same year, Upson’s exhibition Go Back The Way You Came at Kunsthalle Basel transformed the exhibition space into a weighty homage to another loaded object: the felled tree outside her childhood home.

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Talking about how she communicated with viewers through her work, Upson told Even: “This is everybody’s pain.

“None of these objects should just sit there with my own little experience.”

Kaari Upson’s death rocks art world

On Thursday, 19 August, Kaari Upson’s daughter shared a post on Instagram announcing her mother’s death from cancer.

She wrote: “To lose your mom is an indescribable feeling… I know the years and years of suffering cancer caused are finally over. She can rest…

“I wish you could stay to see all the things I’m going to accomplish, but I know you’ll still be with me in some way to experience them… I’m so thankful to have seen the impact you had on the world.”

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Twitter mourns artist’s death

Admirers of Upson’s work have taken to Twitter to share their condolences with the artist’s family.

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Mafalda Costa is a second year BA Journalism student originally from Portugal. Her main passions if life are music, arts and culture, while she's particularly knowledgable on cinema and anime.