Art historian, archaeologist, author, and lecturer pál Kelemen died at his home in La Jolla, California, on February 15, 1993, just a little more than two months shy of his 99th birthday. Born in Budapest, he is survived by his wife of nearly 61 years, Elisabeth Hutchings Zulauf a former opera singer who traveled with him on all his world journeys as companion, photographer, and amanuensis.

With Kelemen's passing, Latin Americanists have lost one of the truly great pioneers in the fields of Latin American colonial art history and pre-Columbian, or what Kelemen called “medieval American," art. His Medieval American Art (1943), published in two volumes—one of text and one of superb photographs, many by EZK—wrested magnificent pre-Columbian “artifacts” from what until then had been nearly the sole pro-prietorship of archaeologists, and demonstrated to thousands of uninitiated readers that American Indians had produced works of art equal to those found on other continents. A. V. Kidder wrote that before Kelemen's book appeared, a few specialists had known of the "artistic achievements of the American Indians,” but that Kelemen's efforts "will have widened that circle enormously. ... The book,” he prophetically observed, “will be a landmark."

What Kelemen brought to the subject matter that no one had before him were the best canons of Continental art criticism as well as a wondeifolly lucid and jargon-free prose style. He was, at heart, a poet.

To his dying day, Kelemen fought to elevate the study of Spanish colo-nial art and architecture in Latin America to a high level of respectability among art historians. He railed against what he perceived as wrongheaded efforts to make comparative evaluations of old World and New World art and architecture of the same period. He also decried the pseudoscientific approach to art history promulgated in most universities in the United States, disturbed that students might never experience the loveliness of a rose if forced by their professors to focus only on petals, stem, thorns, stamen, stigma, and ovary.

Kelemen's monumental Baroque and Rococo in Latin America (1951) was the first widely distributed book in English to draw public attention to a New World art that represents a unique fosion of European, creole, Indian, black, mestizo, and mulatto influences—a genuinely great contribution to the art of the world and one to be weighed on its own scales. Ever hoping to inspire advocates for this art, he continued to produce: Art of the Americas: Ancient and Hispanic (1969), Peruvian Colonial Painting (1972), Folk Baroque in Mexico: Mestizo Architecture Through the Centuries (1974), and Vanishing Art of the Americas (1977). And while he was not among its contributors, the exhibit and exhibition catalogue produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries (1990), provided a kind of vindication—at last—of his long-held views. The volume and exhibition might well have been dedicated to him.

Always an independent scholar and ever free of the bureaucratic and other petty restraints of academia, Kelemen published more than 135 books and essays. Although most reflect his Latin American interests, he was also a preeminent authority on El Greco. A bibliography of his published writings was published in Mardi 1981 as a supplement to the Southwestern Mission Research Center Newsletter (vol. 15, no. 48). He was working on his memoirs when he died, and was close to bringing them to completion.

Kelemen was recognized for his achievements by the University of Arizona, which awarded him an honorary doctorate (L.H.D.). He was also awarded the Order of Merit by Ecuador and was a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain.

Pál Kelemen offered his contemporaries—and left to posterity—a permanent legacy of understanding of the early art of Latin America. It is unlikely his equal shall pass our way again.