William Brice, an abstract artist and retired UCLA faculty member, died March 3 in Los Angeles. He was 86.
An admirer of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, Brice was known for his large-scale paintings that referenced elements of classical ruins. During his long painting career, he exhibited extensively throughout the United States.
Brice's work is in numerous permanent collections, including those of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Around 1970, Brice made a trip to Greece, which strongly influenced his art. It was at this time that his work shifted from atmospheric paintings with light and demarcation of forms to paintings with elements of fragmented classical ruins, evoking the history of a noble era.
Brice joined the UCLA art faculty as an acting assistant professor in 1953. In 1956, he was awarded an assistant professorship and continued to move up the academic ladder, retiring in 1991 as a professor emeritus.
"He was such an important factor for so many years at UCLA," said art professor emeritus Henry Hopkins, who served as chair of the UCLA Art Department from 1991 to 1995 and is former director of the Hammer Museum. "When I was a graduate student in art history, he was a premier member of the painting department.
"Bill was a person who many students turned to as their guide," Hopkins said. "He was highly respected, and in his great role as a mentor, he worked closely with students such as Peter Alexander, Judy Chicago, Charles Garabedian, Ed Moses and others."
With his enthusiasm for the arts, Brice encouraged many to pursue their dreams, as he did.
"He was a great teacher, very involved in helping his students find out where and what they wanted to be," Garabedian told the Los Angeles Times.
Brice was born April 23, 1921, in New York City. He studied in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art Institute and in New York at the Art Students League. He taught at the Jepson Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1952, before joining the UCLA faculty.
Brice is survived by his wife, Shirley; his son John; and two grandsons.