Sir Robert J. Loescher, professor emeritus at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ( SAIC ) and founder and chair of the school's art history department, passed away Dec. 8. He was 70.
Loescher was born Sept. 13, 1937, in Appleton, Wis., to the late Clarence Albert Loescher and Sarah Jane ( McCullough ) Loescher. After graduating from Menasha High School in Menasha, Wis., Loescher attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. and M.A. in art history. He studied at the University of Mexico in Mexico City and completed a Fulbright Grant at the Institute of Fine Arts and the University of Madrid in Spain. After obtaining his Ph.D. in art history at the University of Michigan, Loescher taught the subject at the University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.
In 1973, Loescher joined the faculty at SAIC, and developed one of the largest art history departments within a professional art school in the United States. In the 1980s, the department was renamed the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism. His main areas of education centered on Spanish and Latin American art as well as gastronomy in art and culture. Loescher was beloved by students, faculty and staff for his intelligence, wit and dedication.
In 1990, King Juan Carlos of Spain proclaimed Loescher a caballero ( knight ) in honor of the educator's contributions to the dissemination of Spanish culture. In a ceremony at The Art Institute of Chicago, Loescher was formally presented with the Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic.
Loescher is survived by his brothers, Thomas Loescher of Tucson, Ariz., and Richard Loescher of Appleton, Wis.; and special friends Shay DeGrandis, Nathan DeFoor, Brian Sikes and Bibiana Suarez of Chicago; Joyce Neimanas of Albuquerque, N.M.; Wendy Woon of New York City; and many colleagues and students.
SAIC has established a memorial fund in Loescher's honor. On April 4, 2008, SAIC will hold a symposium devoted to Loescher will be held at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, in conjunction with the Midwest Art History Society Conference.