BOSTON (AP) – Kahlil Gibran, a sculptor and painter who wrote a biography of his famous poet cousin of the same name, has died. He was 85.

Gibran died Sunday of heart failure, according to his wife, Jean English Gibran.

Gibran lived most of his life in Boston’s South End, one of several city neighborhoods where his sculptures stand. A tripod he designed is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Gibran began his career as a painter but became a sculptor in the 1950s, saying painting “didn’t demand enough of me.”

“I believe talent is a grace,” he told The Boston Globe in 1967, when he was 44. “You don’t deny it, you don’t affirm it. But if you don’t work at it, you can lose it. The only sin is in squandering talent.”

The switch to sculpting was followed by several honors, including the George Widener Medal, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a fellowship and award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the gold medal in an international exhibit in Trieste, Italy.

With his wife, Gibran also wrote a biography of his famous poet cousin, for whom he was named. The elder Gibran, who died in 1931, wrote “The Prophet,” which has sold millions.

Jean English Gibran said she and her husband worked for years to produce the 1974 book, “Kahlil Gibran, His Life and World.”

“I think it was the first very honest portrait of Gibran printed,” she said.

Gibran considered his name a blessing and a curse, his wife said. His cousin both inspired him and raised his expectations for himself.

“He was a horizon to me,” Gibran told the Globe in 1997. “I had to live up to him. I had to produce. Because he was somebody, I had to be somebody.”

Gibran leaves his wife; his former wife, Eleanor Mott Berg; a daughter, Nicole of Seattle; a son, Timothy of Stockholm; two sisters, Suzanne Huggin and Selma Vassall, both of San Diego; two grandsons and a granddaughter.


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