Joseph Ablow

August 16, 1928November 14, 2012

Joseph Ablow, 84, of Brookline, died at home on November 14, surrounded by his family. Ablow was born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1928 and he lived, worked, and taught in the Boston area for most of his life. Educated at Harvard University, Bennington College, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Ablow also studied painting with Oskar Kokoschka and Ben Shahn.

Represented by the Pucker Gallery in Boston, Ablow’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally: from the Art Institute of Chicago to Kunstsalon Wolfsberg in Zurich, Switzerland. His paintings can be found in numerous private and public collections, including Brandeis University, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, the Boston Public Library, and the DeCordova Museum.

A passionate and deeply knowledgeable lover of classical music, Ablow recently described the concerns animating his monumental still-lifes as analogous to those of music. What was especially important to him about “abstract music,” he said, is that it “can evoke and convey all sorts and levels of experience, but only by implication.” His commitment to what he called the “expressive power of form,” was evident in his attention to “the look of things—a shadow cast on a table top or the highlight on a bowl.”

Ablow held academic positions at Amherst College, Wellesley College, Bard College, and Middlebury College, and was Professor of Art at Boston University for thirty-five years. He was a devoted and beloved teacher. He was also the author of countless essays on art.

Ablow is survived by his wife of 56 years, Roselyn Ablow; his daughter, Rachel Ablow and her partner, Ruth Mack; his grandson, Simon Ablow-Mack; his brother, Ronald Ablow and wife Judith; his sister, Rosalie Rudnick and husband Mitchell.

In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in Ablow’s memory may be made to Boston University College of Fine Arts, care of the Office of Development, 855 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 02215. Donations will support need-based scholarships for gifted students at the School of Fine Arts.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, December 21, at 3 p.m. in the Boston University Art Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. Arrangements by the Levine Chapels, Brookline, MA. 617-277-8300


  • Memorial Service Friday, December 21, 2012

Joseph Ablow

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Winslow Myers

July 8, 2013

Dear Roz,

I just heard about Joe's passing from our mutual friend Tony King; I'm so sorry. It was Joe who first gave me a sense of the principles and possibilities of visual design; he was an essential part of the "BU art boot-camp" that became of lifelong value.

It was good to run into you both at the Pucker back over a decade ago.

With all my good wishes,


December 24, 2012

Dear Roz and family,Our thoughts are with you,Paulette and Nick Edmonds,

December 12, 2012

Dear Roz, Rachel and family:
Please accept our heartfelt condolences during this difficult time. His passion for art lives on in his students and all whom he had contact. With sincere sympathy, Phoebe and Jeffrey Greene, Old Forge, NY.

Stephanie Kay

December 7, 2012

Dear Roz, Above all, I have and always will remember Joe's warmth, elegance and brilliance. His legacy lives on in all the lives he's touched. May your friends, family and memories bring you comfort during this difficult time.

Katie Karol Walker

November 23, 2012

Thinking of you with much love and wonderful memories as I view Joe's art in my house. Will be in touch.


David and Marina Winkler

November 20, 2012

Dear Roz, Rachel and Family,
We wish to share our most heartfelt condolences for your entire family with Joe's recent passing. He has been a mentor, a friend and artistic inspiration to us. I had the great honor to know him for nearly twenty years and can truly say that my life was changed for the art he made and the man he was. His paintings grace the walls of our home and are cherished every day. He will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

pat goodheart

November 19, 2012

Joe will live on in our hearts, as teacher and friend. Now it is time to celebrate his life. He was my teacher and later my friend. What he taught me about composition and the degree of finish one could bring to a drawing or a painting, I will never forget.No more than his remarks to me about my own work. A person of extraordinary learning, Joe's conversation, his remarks are unforgettable. pat goodheart, Saint Michel de Livet, 14140, France

I regret to say that I will never find another friend with whom I can have profound conversations about the things I love most in life, music and art.
He always encouraged me in relation to my oil painting and drawing which was a huge support.

David Van Vactor

November 19, 2012

Please accept our heartfelt and prayers. Cherish his memories. May the God who gives peace be with all of you.-RO.15:33

November 19, 2012

Dear Roz,
Karina and I send our love to you and family at this difficult time. I deeply esteemed Joe's erudition and passion for quality, beauty and authenticity.
I feel so fortunate to have had him as a teacher and later as a friend.
- Grant Drumheller

Carol Barsha

November 19, 2012

My warmest wishes to Ros and family from a very thankful student.