When William A. Fagaly was a graduate student in art heritage at Indiana College in the early 1960s, the professor in his place of concentration nicknamed him Intrepid. That delighted Mr. Fagaly, while he by no means recognized how the term applied to him.
A single purpose could have been that the professor, Roy Sieber, was the to start with particular person in the United States to make a doctorate in African artwork background and a progenitor of the subject Mr. Fagaly was one of his initial learners. Dr. Sieber would implement the nickname to subsequent college students, perhaps since he realized he was sending them where by couple of publish-grads experienced gone just before.
In his e-book “The Nightcrawler King: Memoirs of an Artwork Museum Curator,” published soon right before his demise on Could 17 at 83, Mr. Fagaly (pronounced FAH-gah-lee) expressed his affection for Dr. Sieber, with whom he stayed in touch for the rest of his lifestyle, and wrote of his superior luck at getting had him for a teacher.
Mr. Fagaly, universally known as Bill, worked for 50 several years in many positions at the New Orleans Museum of Art. A significant component of his legacy was his enlargement and refining of the museum’s African art holdings, whilst his contributions in the locations of Southern outsider artwork and up to date art have been also sizeable.
The museum introduced his demise, at a healthcare facility in New Orleans, but did not specify the result in.
An affable male whose comfortable way belied his demanding education in items visible, Mr. Fagaly was well recognized on the worldwide art circuit. He often visited galleries in New York and museums abroad, and he organized exhibits as a visitor curator for museums in New York, Washington and Portland, Ore. He was a founder of the Up to date Arts Middle in New Orleans and of Prospect New Orleans, a triennial exhibition that was the initially big global party of its type in the United States. He was also instrumental in bringing consideration to significant Southern outsider artists like David Butler and Sister Gertrude Morgan.
William Arthur Fagaly was born on March 1, 1938, in Lawrenceburg, Ind., a suburb of Cincinnati. His father, Dr. William James Fagaly, was a loved ones health practitioner his mom, Dorothy Rae (Wheeler) Fagaly, was a homemaker and an avid gardener and collector of antique dolls. Younger William also exhibited early amassing instincts, starting off with stamps, coins, glass and clay antique marbles, and Indigenous American artifacts.
By significant faculty his passions had turned to art his to start with acquire was a Toulouse-Lautrec print that turned out to be faux. He paid out for it partly with cash he experienced gained providing nightcrawlers — worms prized by fishermen — from his entrance garden. He also purchased his family’s first television established immediately after his parents experienced refused to do so.
At Indiana College in Bloomington, Mr. Fagaly failed at his original target, to turn out to be a chemist. His older sister, a graduate of the faculty, steered him toward artwork.
He studied each studio artwork and artwork background, and he avoided settling on a significant as lengthy as possible. Art heritage eventually gained, and, on earning his B.A., he pursued it into the university’s graduate college. He studied 19th- and 20th-century Western artwork with Albert Elsen, an authority on the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Dr. Sieber oversaw his master’s in African art historical past, which he been given in 1967.
Inspired by Dr. Sieber to stop by New York sellers in African artwork, Mr. Fagaly was thrilled to find that his mentor’s identify gave him access to the back again rooms and the expertise of numerous of the most demanding, which assisted sharpen his eye.
In 1966 Mr. Fagaly went to perform at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Artwork (as the New Orleans Museum of Artwork was then identified), formally as registrar and informally as a curator in African artwork. At the time, the museum owned fewer than 10 items of African art, but James Byrnes, its director, believed that it must house a key selection, supplied the city’s massive Black population.
Above the future fifty percent-century, the institution would tremendously develop its bodily footprint and its selection. Mr. Fagaly variously held the titles registrar, curator of present-day and self-taught art, curator of collections, acting director, chief curator and assistant director. In 1997, he was named Françoise Billion Richardson curator of African art. Even though at the museum he started both the Pals of Ethnographic Artwork and the Good friends of Present-day Art.
By the time he retired in 2016, he experienced improved the museum’s African art assortment, via acquisitions and items, to about 600 parts. These holdings had — in trying to keep with James Byrnes’s first eyesight — a focused gallery.
Mr. Fagaly is survived by his sister, Patricia Potts.
Though at the New Orleans museum, Mr. Fagaly structured 90 exhibitions, together with “David Butler” (1976), the very first museum clearly show for an outsider artist acknowledged for whirligigs of cutout and painted tin “Shapes of Electricity, Perception and Celebration: African Artwork From New Orleans Collections” (1989) a retrospective of the Summary Expressionist Fritz Bultman, who was a New Orleans native (1993, with Jeanne Bultman, the artist’s widow) and “Ancestors of Congo Sq.: African Artwork in the New Orleans Museum of Art” (2011). He also structured “Five From Louisiana: New Get the job done by Lynda Benglis, Tina Girouard, Richard Landry, Robert Rauschenberg and Keith Sonnier” (1977).
Mr. Fagaly was a founder of the city’s Up to date Arts Center in 1976. Prospect New Orleans, which was inaugurated in 2008, was in a lot of strategies an outgrowth of his expertise with the museum’s New Orleans Triennial, for which he experienced served as curator and undertaking manager from 1969 to 1998. (It was discontinued in 2005).
He also served as a guest curator at various museums beyond New Orleans. At the American Folk Artwork Museum in New York, he structured the exhibitions “Louisiana Folk Painting” (1973) and “Tools of Her Ministry: The Artwork of Sister Gertrude Morgan” (2004). He was visitor curator for biennials at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1989 and the Portland Art Museum in Oregon in 1995.