Cover photo for William Richard Hutson's Obituary
William Richard Hutson Profile Photo

William Richard Hutson

d. September 21, 2022

Bill Hutson (1936_2022)

Bill Hutson, noted abstract painter, passed away in Lancaster on September 21. He was born in
San Marcos, Texas in 1936 and spent his early years there. His father, Floyd Waymon Hutson,
was a musician, and his mother, Mattie Lee Edwards, was a custodian at the local university.
After serving in the US Air Force and briefly studying art at San Francisco State University,
Hutson moved to Europe in the 1960s and spent almost two decades there, mostly in Paris but
also in London and Amsterdam. He later worked at the National Museum in Lagos, before
returning to New York. He travelled widely in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa, to
which as an African-American he had a particular affinity, and had longstanding relationships
with other prominent African-American writers and artists such as William Melvin Kelly, Ed
Clark, Alvin Loving, Melvin Edwards, and Jayne Cortez.
Hutson taught at Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins before coming to Franklin and
Marshall College in 1989, where he served as professor of painting, and for the last decade was
the Jennie Brown Cook and Betsy Hess Cook Distinguished Artist-in-Residence and Associate
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art, Art History, and Film. As a teacher, Hutson
touched the lives of countless students with his kindness, generosity, and unique spirit.
In his distinguished career as a painter, Hutson enjoyed over twenty solo exhibitions, including
the 2022 citywide exhibition in his hometown of San Marcos. He participated in more than fifty
group exhibitions all over the world. In 2020, a selection of his works was exhibited in the
Pennsylvania Governor's Residence in Harrisburg.
Hutson brought to his art endlessly inventive methods of mark-making—sometimes inspired by
practices he had witnessed in Africa. His works could incorporate elements from nature (leaves
and branches) or from everyday objects, like the slats of wooden baskets for peaches from the
Lancaster Central Market. As early as the 1960s, Hutson experimented with turning the two-
dimensional surface of a painting into three-dimensional sculpture. Some of his large-scale
works included movable, canvas-wrapped pieces that could be lifted and rearranged—the viewer
thereby invited to participate in creating variations of a given work.
Hutson's work is held in prominent museums and private collections, such as the Brooklyn
Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, New
York, and the George Visat Collection in Paris.
Despite being declared legally blind ten years ago, Hutson continued to paint and made some of
his most luminous paintings during this time.
In accordance with his preferences, there will be no funeral. Hutson is survived by close and life-
long friends–France Ballot-Lena, Padmini Mongia, Gwendolyn McComsky, Melvin Edwards,
James Little—to name a few, and by cousins, nieces and nephews. He was the last of his four
siblings to pass on.

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