Hilton Kramer (1928–2012) was the founding editor of The New Criterion, which he started with the late Samuel Lipman in 1982. From 1987 until 2006, he was also the art critic for the weekly New York Observer, and for many years wrote the "Critic’s Notebook" column in Art & Antiques magazine. His "Media Watch" column was published weekly in The New York Post from 1993 to November 1997.
Mr. Kramer was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1928. He studied at Syracuse University (B.A., 1950), and in the graduate schools of Columbia University, Harvard University, Indiana University (School of Letters), and the New School for Social Research. He served on the faculties of Indiana University, Bennington College, the University of Colorado, and Yale University. He lectured widely at museums and universities in this country and abroad.
Over the years he contributed to Commentary, The New Republic, National Review, The New York Review of Books, The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The American Spectator, Partisan Review, Modern Painters, The Boston Globe, the London Times Literary Supplement, and the London Sunday Telegraph. Before joining the staff of The New York Times in 1965 as art news editor, Mr. Kramer had been editor of Arts Magazine and an art critic for The Nation. He was appointed chief art critic of the Times in 1973 and remained in that position until he resigned in 1982 to start The New Criterion.
Mr. Kramer was the author of several volumes of criticism including The Age of the Avant-Garde: 1956-1972 (1973), The Revenge of the Philistines: Art and Culture, 1972-1984 (1985), The Twilight of the Intellectuals: Culture and Politics in the Era of the Cold War (1999), and The Triumph of Modernism: The Art World, 1985-2005 (2006). He wrote critical monographs on the work of Milton Avery, Gaston Lachaise, Richard Lindner, and several other artists. He was also the editor of The New Criterion Reader (1988), and co-editor, with Roger Kimball, of Against the Grain: The New Criterion on Art and Intellect at the End of the Twentieth Century (1995), The Future of the European Past (1997), The Betrayal of Liberalism (1999), The Survival of Culture: Permanent Values in a Virtual Age (2002), and Counterpoints: 25 Years of The New Criterion on Culture & the Arts (2007).
Mr. Kramer died on March 27, 2012 after a long illness. In May 2012, The New Criterion published a special issue dedicated to his legacy containing excerpts from his work and recollections from his freinds and colleagues. A compendium of notices about Mr. Kramer may be found here.