The Westside art community mourns the loss of Judith Hoffberg, archivist, curator, art writer, and publisher/editor of the “Umbrella,” a newsletter focused upon non-traditional art forms such as mail art, the Fluxus art movement spawned in the 1960s, and especially artist books. Hoffberg passed away on January 16 after a six-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia. She was 75.
“Judith Hoffberg was a force to be reckoned with,” notes Santa Monica assemblage artist Elena Siff. “She was infinitely curious, knowledgeable, and well-traveled. She had friends everywhere. She will be missed around the world.”
In her final “sign off” editorial in “Umbrella,” Hoffberg writes: “The whole field of artist books became my life and I wanted to share it with all of you. Although marginal at the beginning, it has grown into a movement, a new chapter in art history, one which is recognized by art historians, artists, and all of you.” Hoffberg’s extensive collection of artist books has reportedly been donated to the UC Santa Barbara Art Library.
And then there are the umbrellas. Over the last three decades Hoffberg collected umbrellas, and parasols and all manner of related art: “I learned more about textiles, fashion, kitsch, marketing, performance art, multi-cultural with the object umbrella.” Hoffberg’s collection includes 200 three-dimensional umbrella objects.
Hoffberg received an M.A. in Italian Language and Literature in 1960 and an M.L.S. from the UCLA School of Library Science in 1964. She was a regular at Westside art openings and community art events, including her role as a volunteer assisting the Santa Monica all night GLOW festival last July. After a long and incredibly interesting life, she sadly fell only days short of her goal of being able to watch the Obama Inauguration.