Claude van Lingen, 1931 – 2024

by Leslie Moody Castro May 1, 2024

Claude van Lingen, the Austin-based artist known for his long-term projects exploring time and color, died in March at the age of 93.

Mr. van Lingen was born in Vereeniging, South Africa in 1931, where he and his brother were raised by a single mother until they enrolled in a regional boarding school. He was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors by his mother and was an active draftsman from a young age, a pursuit that eventually became his professional passion. 

A black and white photograph of artist Claude van Lingen.

Claude van Lingen

Mr. van Lingen studied at the Johannesburg College of Art and was awarded a National Teacher’s Diploma in Art in 1952. He taught high school for more than a decade until he was named Chairman of the Teacher Training Department at the Johannesburg College of Art, and was later appointed as Chairman of the Fine Art Department in 1975. Throughout that time he developed the highly successful Perceptual Studies course that led to his winning the prestigious Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust Award and representing South Africa at the 1975 São Paulo Biennial. The award would have led to his representation of South Africa at the Venice Biennial, had South Africa not been banned at the time due to its policy of apartheid, which influenced Mr. van Lingen’s decision to leave South Africa and settle in New York City in 1978. 

During his time in New York, Mr. van Lingen taught at Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts and was employed by Scholastic off and on for several years. He exhibited regularly in both solo and group exhibitions, including the prestigious John Weber Gallery in 1991, and was represented by the Vera Engelhorn Gallery in the 1990s. While in New York, Mr. van Lingen began exploring the theme of time, and developed his project 1000 Years From Now in the 1980s. The idea had various incarnations in the decades to follow and was greatly impacted by the World Trade Center attacks, an event Mr. van Lingen witnessed. 

Photo of an installation in a concrete cube

Installation view of Claude van Lingen.’s “9/11 Memorial: The 20-Year Anniversary” at Co-Lab Projects. Photo: Ryan Davis

He traveled widely with his partner Germaine Keller, and together they settled in Austin in 2005. There, Mr. van Lingen became a beloved fixture in the arts community, as an artist, a mentor, and a friend. He exhibited regularly in the area, most notably at Co-Lab Projects, where he befriended director and founder Sean Gaulager, who continues to foster the legacy of his 1000 Years From Now paintings and curated Mr. van Lingen’s final solo exhibition on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. His work is included in international institutional collections, and while his professional accolades span decades, his personal connection to the artist community in which he participated will remain a cornerstone of his legacy. 

A photograph of artist Claude van Lingen.

Claude van Lingen

Mr. van Lingen volunteered at most institutions in the city of Austin, was awarded Artist of the Year by the Austin Chronicle (2014) , continued to attend exhibition openings only weeks before his passing, and painted even when his faculties of dexterity began to wane. His presence was a strong yet gentle one, and his loss leaves a chasm within the Austin arts community. 

Mr. van Lingen taught us metaphorical mountains of information which remain within us in perpetuity. We are lucky to have had such a figure in our community, and are grateful to both Claude and his family who shared his time with us, even to the very end.

Mr. van Lingen died on March 30, 2024 at 6:53 a.m. He is survived by his children, Etienne van Lingen and Rietta McKnight, and numerous grandchildren.

Memorial information is forthcoming and will be announced by Co-Lab Projects


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Jacqui Gaulager May 2, 2024 - 12:46

What a beautiful memorial honoring Claude! We all will surely miss him and his consistent presence, contributions and dedication to the Austin art community. I will miss his warm hugs and jovial conversations. Rest in peace my dear friend.
Jacqui Gaulager

Annette Carlozzi May 4, 2024 - 10:43

Leslie, what a beautiful tribute to Claude! You’ve captured him perfectly and, as important, you’ve documented the admiration and affection with which we all regarded him. His place in this art community remains, but now in our memories. Thank you.


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