Frank Lobdell, a notable Bay Area abstract expressionist artist and former Stanford University professor, died on Dec. 14 in Palo Alto. He was 92.
He was well-known locally, nationally and internationally for his abstract paintings, drawings and lithographs. His work has been displayed at museums from the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, New York City's The Whitney Museum of American Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among many others.
He was born on Aug. 21, 1921, in Kansas City, Miss., the son of Ruth Saxton and Earl Lobdell. He grew up in Minnesota and studied at the St. Paul School of Fine Arts from 1939 to 1940. He went on to serve with the U.S. Army for two years in World War II, arriving in Europe in 1944 shortly before D-Day. Injured in the war, he spent time in a hospital in England before returning to the United States in 1946. His war experiences shaped and informed his art career.
After the war, he moved to Sausalito, Calif., and enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco (CSFA, now the San Francisco Art Institute) under the G.I. Bill. He also taught there, from 1957 to 1964.
He joined the Stanford community first as a visiting artist in 1965 and then as an art professor the following year. He taught until his retirement in 1991.
He received many honors and awards for his work, including the Nealie Sullivan Award from San Francisco Art Association (1960); Pew Foundation Grant (1986); Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Painting (1988) and Academy Purchase Award (1992, 1994) from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York; and in 1998 he was elected to the National Academy of Design.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia (Jinx) Rowan Lobdell; sisters June Skjervold and Phyllis Brussel; sons Frank Saxton Lobdell of Minneapolis and Judson (Heather); and granddaughter, Charlotte, of Tiburon, Calif. He was predeceased by his sister Doris Olson.
A memorial service is planned for early next year; a memorial exhibition of his work will open at Hackett | Mill, an art gallery in San Francisco that represents him, on May 16, 2014.