Hilton Kramer, former New York Times Chief Art Critic and...

Hilton Kramer, former New York Times Chief Art Critic and founding editor of The New Criterion magazine, stands at his desk in The New Criterion offices in Manhattan. Kramer died on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 in Harpswell, Maine. He was 84. (Nov. 5, 1985) Credit: AP/The New York Times, Jack Manning

Hilton Kramer, the former chief art critic at The New York Times and founding editor of The New Criterion magazine, has died. He was 84.

Kramer's wife Esta said he had been suffering from a blood disease, and died early Tuesday. He had been in an assisted living facility in Harpswell, Maine.

Kramer started his work as an art critic in the early 1950s and joined the Times in 1965 as art-news editor. He became the chief art critic in 1973. He left the paper in 1982 for The New Criterion, a monthly journal that critiques the arts and other topics.

In his work, Kramer took issue with the art world over topics like the types of exhibits museums were showcasing to draw their audiences, as well as other artistic targets. One of the objects of his scorn was "The Gates," a 2005 installation in Central Park that put thousands of saffron drapes on frames along the footpaths.

Writing in The New York Observer, Hilton said: "What has to be understood about this whole affair is that it's not only an assault on nature, but also the wanton desecration of a precious work of art. If some barbarian entered the Metropolitan Museum of Art and proceeded to drape orange banners on the paintings and sculptures, we can be sure that the police would be called in to halt such a flagrant violation of a treasured art collection."

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