Former Painting Faculty Member Doris Staffel Dies

Untitled work, acrylic on board, 12" x 9".

September 16, 2013

Former Painting faculty member Doris Staffel, one of Philadelphia’s preeminent abstract painters and colorists, died peacefully at her home in Philadelphia on Friday, September 13, 2013. An influential teacher who had a profound effect on generations of young painters, Staffel taught at the Philadelphia College of Arts (now the University of the Arts) from 1957 to 1990.

Watch a recent interview >>

Born in 1921, Staffel grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and started drawing at age three. Noted abstract expressionist Mark Rothko was her elementary school art teacher and remained a friend and mentor. She studied from 1939 to 1944 at the Tyler School of Art and in 1946 went to graduate school at Iowa University to study with Philip Guston. She did her post-graduate study with Hans Hoffman in New York City.

"Abstract Figuration," oil on paper, 23 1/4" x 30 3/8".

From 1950 to the last few weeks of her life, Staffel was dedicated to maintaining a vital studio practice. Her work was exhibited widely in numerous solo and group exhibitions both nationally and in Philadelphia, including at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the Woodmere Art Museum, which ran a retrospective of her work in 2012 titled "Doris Staffel: Painter, Teacher."

Married to Rudolf Staffel from 1944 to 1981 and to Neil Malarkey from 1982 to 1992, she is survived by her brother, Howard Blitman, of Scarsdale, N.Y.; two daughters, Megan Staffel Marks of Alfred and Brooklyn, N.Y., and Abby Buchanan of Philadelphia; and grandchildren Chris Anderson of Philadelphia, Heather Dixon of Millville, N.J., Annabeth Marks of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Arley Marks of New York City.

Gifts in her memory can be given to the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia, where she was a student and practitioner.

A memorial service is planned for Friday, November 1 at 2 p.m. at Arch Street Meeting House (320 Arch Street, Philadelphia).

View All News