Barbara Weil, who died on 19 January.


Barbara Weil, a painter and sculptor whose works were exhibited in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and Berlin, and who collaborated with the architect Daniel Libeskind to design her celebrated Studio Weil in Majorca, passed away on 19 January.

Barbara was a gracious and vivacious woman, known for her creative energy, her great wit and her warmth. Her works include Under the Moon, a sculpture commissioned for the American Pavilion at Seville’s Expo ’92; Forest of Love, a painting on permanent display at Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Swansea, Wales; and The Gran Hologram, which is permanently exhibited at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her collaboration with Libeskind on Studio Weil occasioned considerable praise in the art world, and she worked with many well-known artists of her time. She was 84.

Ms. Weil was born in 1933 to Ralph David Weil and Rose Goldman of Chicago, Illinois. Her father had been an American soldier in the First World War and had been injured by mustard gas in 1918. But he survived his injuries to return home to Chicago, and he later founded the Weil Pump Company, which became highly successful. Her mother worked at Hull House in Chicago on behalf of recent immigrants to the United States. Ms. Weil graduated from Roosevelt University and later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she became passionately interested in abstract art and focused on painting. In her early years, she also formed a friendship with the architect Stanley Tigerman, who would later introduce her to Libeskind.

In 1956, she married Daniel Weinstein, and raised a family of four children. Then, in 1967, she and the family took time to explore the Mediterranean Sea by sailboat, and in doing so they happened upon the small fishing village of Puerto Andratx. It was there that Ms. Weil truly found her place among other artists and writers.

In 1968, she co-founded Galeria Pepe, a collective space for young artists. Her friend and neighbour Romain Gary attended many of the openings, and he also supported her art and invited her to Paris. Along with the Spanish author Camila Jose Cela, she would publish the catalogue Cuentos de La Alhambra, a 1989 homage to the American writer Washington Irving and his sojourn in Granada.

Ms. Weil was invited in 1976 to be an artist in residence in India with the American designer Charles Eames, and during this period she visited the Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati where she discovered handmade Indian paper. With a base of such paper, she contrived to combine chopped mat fibreglass and resin to form sculptures. In 1977, she also shared this paper with the Spanish artist Joan Miro, and later arranged an exchange between Miro and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Ms. Weil made a point of combining painting, sculpture, and architecture and converting them into unexpected forms. Her painting, which often emphasized vivid primary colors, evolved into spatial installations of sculptures. In addition to other works, she installed City of the Big Shoulders at Three Illinois Center in Chicago in 1993. In 1998, she began planning to build her studio and started to work with Libeskind.

The art critic Jonathan Glancey of The Guardian later described the resulting building as a "brave and remarkable structure and a fascinating example of creative synergy between two artists who, unknowingly, had shared something like a common approach to visual form long before Libeskind became news."

The last year of her life was quite active. She travelled to Jerusalem, and she also had a retrospective of paintings and sculptures at the Cap Vermell Centre (Cala Ratjada).

She is survived by her four children, Georgina, 60, of Barcelona, Spain; James (Jimmy) Weinstein, 58, and his wife Lilli Santon-Weinstein of Padua, Italy; Charles, 55, of Paris, France; and Jessica, 53, of Girona, Spain; and by her four grandchildren, Emilia and Dario of Girona, Chiara of Paris, and Anisha of Barcelona.

A memorial at Studio Weil will be held at a later date.

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