Obituary: William Quinn, painter, professor emeritus, 93

Quinn teaches an introductory painting course in 1991. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

William Quinn, a celebrated painter and professor emeritus who taught at Washington University in St. Louis for more than three decades, died Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at Bridgeport Hospital, near his home in Milford, Conn. He was 93.

Born in St. Louis in 1929, Quinn earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1953 from WashU’s School of Fine Arts (now the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts). He spent two years in the U.S. Army and then used his GI Bill benefits to earn a master’s in fine arts from the University of Illinois in 1957. Later that year, he won WashU’s John T. Milliken Foreign Travel Award, enabling his first trip to Italy. He joined the WashU faculty in 1958 and was named a professor emeritus in 1991.

William Quinn, “California Incline, Santa Monica,” 1989. Gouache. (Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum collection, gift of Marvin Bank in memory of Sol and Dora Bank)

During his time on campus, Quinn taught painting courses at every level, but he had a fondness for the rapid artistic growth he observed in beginning students. “With the introductory courses, I get a more immediate response,” Quinn told the WashU Record. “I can really see results.”

In 1985, Quinn arranged for the university to secure a 100-year lease on a studio at the Cité International des Arts in Paris, the famed artist-in-residence building located on the banks of the Seine River. Today, the Paris Studio Residency continues to welcome alumni, faculty and graduating students from the Sam Fox School’s College & Graduate School of Art.

Quinn, meanwhile, retired to Bruges, Belgium, and also lived in Vence, France, and Gig Harbor, Wash., before settling in Milford. Through it all, he continued to exhibit widely, including a 2009 exhibition at St. Louis’ Duane Reed Gallery.

In all, Quinn’s work has been featured in more than 40 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group shows. His numerous awards include a 1986 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is included in more than 20 museum collections, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and WashU’s Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.

Quinn is survived by his wife of 49 years, Jeannine Goeminne; by five children, Kirsten Quinn-Hudson, Lisa Quinn, Kevin Quinn, Sheila Quinn and Bryan Quinn; and by two stepchildren, Ingeborg Verhalle and Ilse Verhalle. Other survivors include his brother, John Quinn, and sister, Mary Ellen Quinn-Wildern, as well as nephew Michael Loos, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

No public service is planned. The family suggests gifts in Quinn’s memory to Washington University, directed to the College of Art. Checks may be made out to Washington University and sent to: Aly Abrams, Washington University Advancement, MSC1202-414-3100, 7425 Forsyth Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63105.

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