STARR KEMPF, 1917-1995

Renowned modern sculptor Starr Kempf was found dead April 7 at his Pine Grove Avenue studio in Colorado Springs. Police said Kempf, 77, appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Kempf was best known for his ambitious steel kinetic sculptures, which incorporated ready-made elements like ventilator turbines and windmills. His meticulously maintained sculpture garden, which adjoins his home and studio at the mouth of Cheyenne Canyon, showcases several mammoth pieces, some more than sixty feet tall. The sculpture garden has long attracted sightseers and occasionally created traffic jams, to the perpetual consternation of Kempf's wealthy neighbors in the luxurious residential enclave.

Kempf came to Colorado from Ohio in the early 1930s to study art at the then-nationally known Broadmoor Academy. He and his widow, Hedrick, have bequeathed the sculpture garden and house to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia