Tim Rollins obituary

By Oliver Basciano Artist whose collaboration with young New Yorkers the Kids of Survival pioneered socially engaged conceptual art

Tim Rollins, who has died aged 62 of cardiovascular disease, was a conceptual artist and pioneer of socially engaged art. Always more interested in people than theory, Rollins made work in collaboration with young people from disadvantaged areas of New York City, and exhibited it under the moniker Tim Rollins and the KOS, or Kids of Survival.

Typically, the group painted on to pages torn from a classic book of western literature, mounted as a grid on large-scale canvases. Made collectively, the work ranges in aesthetic: Amerika (1984-89), a series of paintings in which a tangle of elongated drooping trumpets, painted in gold acrylic over pages of the Franz Kafka novel, recall abstract expressionism. In Animal Farm (1989-92), depictions of world leaders, each with the body of a beast, overlay Orwell's parable. At the Hayward Gallery's alternative art school, Wide Open School, in 2012, the group took inspiration from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, using ink, mustard seed, glue and apple juice to paint on Felix Mendelssohn's score for the play.

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