Passings: Kenneth Carpenter

A field of flowers at sunset

Kenneth Carpenter, a professor in the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), died on Oct. 4 surrounded by family at the age of 83.

Kenneth Erwin Carptenter  2022 avis de deces  NecroCanada
Kenneth Carpenter

Carpenter was a long-time faculty member, teacher and colleague in the Department of Visual Art & Art History.

Carpenter was born in Saskatchewan, and lived most of his adult life in Toronto where he earned his BA from the University of Toronto. He followed that by attending Berkley in California, earning his MA there, and later studied in London, U.K., to obtain his PhD where he did his doctorate dissertation on the Victorian art critic Walter Peter.

Carpenter taught at York University in economics, then mainly art history and art criticism. He was the Chair of the Visual Arts department from 1996 to 2000, and was instrumental in building the University’s art collection. One of his many honors was to be a guest critic at the prestigious Emma Lake artist workshops. He was also a guest lecturer at numbers Canadian and American universities, and was the recipient of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association’s award for excellence in teaching. In addition, over the years he served on several museum boards and published numerous books and articles on contemporary art and artists.

Carpenter’s research interests concentrated on the history, theory, and practice of art criticism, Canadian and American art since 1940, and the psychology of creativity. His extensive publication credits included sixty articles in journals such as Art International, Arts, Vie des arts, The Journal of Canadian Art History, Studio International, The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Dictionary of Art. Exhibitions he has curated include The Caro Connection: Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro from Toronto Collections; The Heritage of Jack Bush, A Tribute (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), which toured extensively; and Caricature and Conscience: The Sculpture of Dora Wechsler (with Carolyn Robinson) for Toronto’s Koffler Gallery. 

His philanthropic endeavors were also an important part of his life, and he was a supporter of Doctors Without Borders and his own bursary program at York University. Outside of teaching and research, Carpenter had a passion for gardening, traveling and sports – especially horse races. He also enjoyed cottage life, swimming in lakes and pools, and was very appreciative of a good meal whether at friends or at a Michelin starred restaurant.

One of Carpenter’s latest writing projects was his memoirs which he was diligently working on to leave a legacy of his fascinating life experiences for his heirs.

Carpenter was predeceased by his parents and his children’s mother Carol, and leaves his son Geoffrey, daughter-in-law Katie and grandchildren Robert (Bobby) and Theodore (Teddy), his daughter Carolyn (Minnie) husband Matt Renzetti and grandchildren Lara Khan, Jackson (JJ) Renzetti, Scarlett Renzetti and Lorenzo Renzetti, who were the center of his life.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. at the Morley Bedford Funeral Home, 159 Eglinton Ave. West, Toronto. Should friends desire, a donation in his honor may be made to York University Scholarship fund.