Brazilian authorities are investigating the death of Brent Sikkema, co-owner of Manhattan’s contemporary art gallery Sikkema Jenkins & Company, who was reportedly found dead in his Rio de Janeiro residence on Monday evening. He was 75 years old.
According to CNN Brazil, Sikkema’s body was discovered with stab wounds in an apartment in the Jardim Botânico neighborhood of Rio. The news outlet reported that the wounds could have been caused by scissors, a box cutter, or a screwdriver, though further investigation is being conducted by the city’s Homicide Police.
“It is with great sadness that the gallery announces the passing of our beloved founder, Brent Sikkema,” a representative for Sikkema Jenkins & Company said in a statement to Hyperallergic. “The gallery grieves this tremendous loss and will continue on in his spirit.”
Born in 1948 and raised in Morrison, Illinois, Sikemma began his career as a gallerist in 1971, working as an exhibitions director at Rochester’s Visual Studies Workshop. An alumni and trustee of the now-closed San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), he opened his first gallery, specializing in photography, in Boston in 1976.
Located on West 22nd Street, Sikkema Jenkins & Company was first established by Sikkema in 1991, initially operating under the name Wooster Gardens in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood before relocating to its current address in 1999. Michael Jenkins joined as director in 1996 and was made partner in 2003. Meg Malloy was made partner in 2005. The gallery currently represents 32 artists including Louis Fratino, Jeffrey Gibson, Brenda Goodman, Sheila Hicks, Vik Muniz, and Kara Walker.
“Brent [Sikkema] was very much respected by his many artists friends and art world people here,” Jeff Gunderson, a librarian and archivist at the San Francisco Art Institute Legacy Foundation and Archive, told Hyperallergic over email, adding that Sikkema was an active member of the SFAI alumni community and remembered by his cohort for “his very positive and interesting presence as a student.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Editor’s note 1/16/24 2pm EST: This article has been updated with comments from Sikkema Jenkins & Company and SFAI librarian Jeff Gunderson.