John Loftus P'75, P'76, P'91

Professor of Art
1967-1995

October 22, 2004

John Loftus was born in Cumberland, Md., in 1921 and grew up in Granite City, Illinois, a depressed steel mill town. His father was an organizer for the coal miners of West Virginia. Loftus has said of his early years, “I was raised on the American brand of socialism. I grew up with the injustice of the world.”

In 1940, he entered Southern Illinois University, studying history and philosophy. Loftus had completed his sophomore year when his studies were interrupted by a call to service in the United States Army. He served in the Signal Corps in New Guinea and the Philippines. He later returned to SIU and graduated in 1946.

With graduation came a turning point. Suffering from what he termed “anxiety,” Loftus underwent treatment in the clinic of noted psychotherapist Karl Menninger. Whole in therapy, he began to paint. Within a year of picking up a brush, he had received four first prize awards at the Kansas State Fair and sold several of his works, the first of which was to Dr. Menninger.

With the money he earned from his paintings, Loftus moved to New York to study with Hofmann, working alongside more experienced artist such as Larry Rivers and Milton Resnick. At the same time, he studied at Columbia University with noted art historian Meyer Shapiro.

During this time, Loftus opened his first one-person show at the Circle in the Square, followed by several shows at Artist Gallery in New York City. He continued to exhibit in one-man and group shows across the Northeast, particularly in New York City.

Professor Emeritus John Loftus has described himself as a “buoyant malcontent”--a man at odds with the world around him yet still productive. However, his teacher and legendary painter, Hans Hofmann, understood his former pupil in a different way. He saw a novice who persevered despite his surroundings, and recognized in him an artist with a unique vision who faced the world courageously.

Loftus was as active a teacher as he was an artist. His experiences as an art educator include the Calhoun School, the University of Colorado and Ohio State University, where he was co-chairman of the Studio Humanities area. He spent 1963 to 1967 at the Philadelphia College of Art, during which time he was recruited to become head of the art department at Hobart and William Smith.

Professor Loftus has described himself as a “buoyant malcontent”--a man at odds with the world around him yet still productive. However, his teacher and legendary painter, Hans Hofmann, understood his former pupil in a different way. He saw a novice who persevered despite his surroundings, and recognized in him an artist with a unique vision who faced the world courageously.

At the Colleges, Loftus taught studio art and art history. In addition to the long-lived, perennial Color and Composition, he was the instructor for various painting and drawing classes, designed for budding artists and non-art majors alike. He stepped down as department head in 1973 but continued on as a professor at the Colleges until 1997.

His tenure in Geneva also proved to be a fertile time for Loftus as an artist and art historian. He earned the Cité Des Arts and Creative Arts in Public Service fellowships, and was a resident artist at Yado and the Osoba Island Artists’ Colony. He also has had published scholarly papers, reviews and a book on Toulouse Lautrec.

At the age of 57, Loftus began the study of Chinese calligraphy and language that has occupied him since and so influenced his later paintings. He has traveled extensively, in China, Europe and across the U.S. His works are held in private collections and museums.

In 1991, the Colleges celebrated Loftus and his work with a campus show titled “John Loftus at 70.”


DFA RECIPIENTS

2018

Elena Ciletti

Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D.'12

2017

Jim Crenner

Benjamin Daise

Maureen Flynn P'09, P'12, P'16*

2016

Roger Farrand '49, P'78

Lois F. Nellis '46*

Ann B. Oaks '74, P'84, P'85, P'89

2014

Claudette Kemper Columbus

2013

Nicholas V. D'Angelo P'98

2012

Peter R. Beckman

Leonard Lawson L.H.D. '68*

Tom Millington

John George Van Deusen P'43

2011

Mary Gerhart

Joel Kerlan, P'89

Deborah Tall*

2010

Joseph N. Abraham, L.H.D. '81*

Donald L. Woodrow P'83, GP'15

2008

Valerie C. Saiving

William G. Hosking '47, P'74*

2007

Walter A. Ralls

2006

Valerie Kish

Frank O’Laughlin*

2004

John Loftus P'75, P'76, P'91*

Toni Flores P'94*

2003

Richard Heaton P'86*

Marvin Bram P'91, L.H.D. ’99

2002

Joseph DiGangi

Eugene F. Murphy P'74, L.H.D. '90*

2001

Ralph Bullard*

Kenneth Carle P'82, P'84, P'90

2000

Benjamin P. Atkinson, L.H.D. '86*

Otto Eugene Schoen-René*

John Lydenberg*

Lindsay A. J. Lafford P'65, P'71, L.H.D. '87*

1999

Robert A. Huff*

1998

Theodore Tellefsen Odell '20, Sc. D.'67*

Irving O. Bentsen '54

1997

Charles Delamater Vail '59, L.H.D.'04*

John Archer Silver*

Charles John Rose '76*

Francis Phillip Nash*

Joseph H. McDaniels, LL.D. '11*

1996

Abigail Mosey*

Brooks Otis, L.H.D. '77*

1995

John Muirheid*

Maynard O. Smith P'76

1993

Richard A. Ryan

William Pitt Durfee, LL.D. '22*

Walter Hetherington Durfee '08, Sc.D. '59*

1992

Elon Howard Eaton*

Edward E. Griffith, L.H.D. '88*

1991

Milton Haight Turk, LL.D. '38*

Kathryn Dapp Cook, L.H.D. '84*

1990

Horace Webster*

John Towler*

Hamilton Lanphere Smith, D.Sc. 1900*


* deceased

 

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