I have just learned that design connoisseur, philanthropist, and radio man George R. Kravis II passed late last week, after battling with cancer for a couple of years. He was 79. Perhaps because he made his career in radio, establishing stations and was the early founder of FM station in this country, all based in his hometown Tulsa, Oklahoma, radios were his first and foremost love, and he collected a lot of them, particularly from the golden age of radio design in the 30s through the 50s. George began collecting industrial design in 1970, and while he tended to buy what he loved, with the aid of his best friend and curator David Hanks, he has assembled an enormous and comprehensive collection which he then lent and gifted to various institutions including MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt National Museum. This year, his book, the second about his collection was published, entitled 'Industrial Design in the Modern Age.' I have first met George in 2009, when writing an article about his then generous gift to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Oklahoma. We met at the stunning apartment of Hanks across from the Sculpture Gardens of MoMA. I came to meet a collector, and I found a friend, a sweet man, unpretentious, generous, loving, who was passionate about sharing his knowledge, and learning. His gifts have come to elevate museum collections, to secure a significant place for industrial design in art museums, to develop scholarship and exhibitions, and to bring the awareness of design to the public. The series of stamps Pioneers of Industrial Design (below), issued by the United States Postal Services was based on his collection. George Kravis, you will be missed.
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