Jerome Chazen, a UW-Madison graduate who went on to co-found Liz Claiborne Inc., and donated $25 million to fund the expansion of the campus art museum named after him and his wife, died Sunday at age 94.
“Jerry was deeply devoted to the arts and to education,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a press release, adding that Chazen was someone who found great joy in introducing new audiences to the art world.
“His commitment to UW–Madison will live on in the Chazen Museum of Art and the many lives he touched,” she said.
The free museum at 750 University Ave., near Park Street, was founded as the Elvehjem Art Center in 1970 and became the Elvehjem Museum of Art in 1978.
It was renamed the Chazen in 2005 after Jerry and Simona Chazen, his wife of 72 years, made the lead gift in the museum’s expansion in 2011.
The couple met when they were attending UW.
The Chazen is the largest collecting museum in the Big Ten and the second-largest art museum in Wisconsin.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of Jerry Chazen’s passing,” said museum director Amy Gilman. “Since my arrival at the Chazen in 2017, Jerry was instrumental in providing guidance and support as I navigated my role as director and I will miss his candor and wisdom. He was a force in every part of his life — business, family, art collecting, philanthropy — and perhaps his most profound legacy will be his everlasting pursuit of his passions.”
As alumni, in the 1980s, the Chazens became active with the Elvehjem. By 1997, Simona had joined its advisory council. In 2000, the couple made their first gift of art to the museum, Harvey Littleton’s Red Squared Descending Form (1982).
Together they served on the museum’s advisory council for more than 20 years. The Chazens gave many works of art to the museum and a large part of their remarkable collection will eventually enter the collection, according to UW-Madison.
Chazen was born in New York City and got his bachelor’s degree in economics from the UW in 1948. He credited a UW–Madison art history course with awakening his interest in the visual arts.
A funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday Eastern Time at Riverside Memorial Chapter in Manhattan and via livestream at
Photos of the year: A look back at the Wisconsin State Journal’s top photos of 2021
Jennifer Mallon guides eight dogs along a walkway adjacent to Warner Park during an outing with the pets of clients of the Ruff Trails canine hiking and training enterprise in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Along for the outing are Penny, Bo, Greta, Coconut, Torks, Baxter, Toby and Rishi. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Genevieve Faucher kisses her son, Atlas, 5, who was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare disorder, at the age of four months, at their home in Oshkosh, Wis., Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. Wisconsin has approved adding Pompe to its newborn screening program but hasn’t started testing for the condition yet. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
A group of friends sing and play following the Eid Al-Fitr prayer held at Olin Park in Madison, Wis., Thursday, May 13, 2021. Eid Al-Fitr is a Muslim religious holiday that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Jase Frost-Ohlsen, 12, uses a rope swing he made with his brother to dangle over the Yahara River in Madison, Wis., Monday, May 3, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Artist Angele Nyberg assembles elements of her environmental art installation, “To Hold You,” at James Madison Park in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021. The piece was commissioned through the Madison Arts Commission’s BLINK program and will offer visitors to the opening the opportunity to weave reclaimed, naturally dyed strips of fabric into the upright hammock wall. An interactive work, the assemblage tilts back slightly, allowing participants to lean into the weaving while gazing along the shores of Lake Mendota. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Peyton Hein, left, a senior at Waunakee High School, and Jacky Duarte, a senior at Sun Prairie High School, watch Sun Prairie’s season-opening spring football game against Verona from a parking lot outside the new Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field in Sun Prairie, Wis., Friday, March 26, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Visitors to Olbrich Botanical Gardens’ GLEAM nighttime art exhibit explore “Tesseract,” a light and sound installation by Madison, Wis. artists Brett Adams and Bo Raasch Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. The annual event features large scale light installations created by local, regional, and international designers displayed throughout the gardens’ 16 acres. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
As hot, humid weather settles into the region, Ilona Steigerzat, 14, generates their own breeze during a swing at Yahara Place Park Madison, Wis., Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Members of DanzTrad, including Yuriza Leonperalta, at right, perform traditional Mexican dance during the Shifting Gears Bike Path Dance Festival at Olin Park in Madison, Wis., Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Storybook Ballet founder Meredith Mast makes adjustments to the form and posture of the ballerinas during class in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Two-year-old triplets, from left, Aiya, Blaire and Charlotte Cahoon, from Madison, feast on strawberries as their mom, Autumn, grandma, Julie Stough, of Seattle, at left, and sister, Grace, 4, fill the basket with their pickings during a visit to Carandale Fruit Farm in Oregon, Wis., Wednesday, June 16, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Francesca Hong kisses her son George Morris goodbye on his first day of kindergarten at Lapham Elementary School in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Jen Korz, executive director at Heartland Farm Sanctuary, tries to get the attention of Maxwell, a Yorkshire pig, on the farm in Verona, Wis., Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Brothers Tom and Mike Duerst harvest corn on their farm off of Schaller Road in Verona, Wis., Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. The United States Department of Agriculture reports harvest of corn for grain across the state is 61 percent complete, which is 10 days ahead of the 5-year average. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Kari Oates, right, and her husband Donald walk through what was the entryway of their home before an F-3 tornado swept through Boscobel, Wis., Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Amber Dolphin reads a book to her daughters, Ivy Moechnig, 1, and Maya Moechnig, 5 (not pictured), in the children’s section of the newly reopened Pinney Library in Madison, Wis., Monday, May 24, 2021. Madison’s libraries reopened Monday after being closed to in-person visits for 15 months. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Members of UW-Madison’s Class of 2021 revel in the chance to do one last “jump around” during the 2021 Spring Commencement at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Saturday, May 8, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Jill Uhe attends a Memorial Day service with her children, Brianna, 8, and Benny, 11, at right, at the Wells – Davis – Young – Neal American Legion Post 209 Memorial Park in Orfordville, Wis., Monday, May 31, 2021. Many residents of the small village remembered Cpl. Benjamin Neal, a 21-year-old Orfordville resident who died in Afghanistan in 2012 when he was 21. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Madison firefighter Bree Bower, left, shows Sienna Tadych, 8, of Madison, how to work a fire hose for CampHERO, a partnership between Madison Area Technical College and Wisconsin Badgerland Girl Scouts to give girls in kindergarten through high school hands-on experience in protective services at the college’s Protective Services Building in Madison, Wis., Friday, July 30, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Nurse Teeney Beidel, center, puts on personal protective equipment to assist a team of nurses rotating a patient on a ventilator at the Aspirus Medford Hospital in Medford, Wis., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Numbered swatches of fabric, each representing a death from COVID-19 in the state, hang as part of a memorial display at Trinity Methodist Church in Madison, Wis. Thursday, March 4, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Friends of three senior high school students killed in a vehicle crash grieve at the site along Mineral Point Road in Veronal, Wis., Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. The students, Simon Bilessi, 17, Evan Kratochwill, 18, and Jack Miller, 17, were killed when their vehicle was struck from behind by a motorist who is facing charges of multiple counts of homicide in the incident. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
UW-Madison sophomore and Army ROTC cadet Sydney Bobolz plants an American flag on the lawn of Bascom Hill as part of a Veterans Day program held by the Wisconsin Union and University Veteran Services in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Oregon and Sun Prairie line up to sing the national anthem under a rainbow at the Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium at Ashley Field in Sun Prairie, Wis., Thursday, May 6, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Confetti falls from the ceiling as Wisconsin players celebrate after defeating Nebraska to clinch share of the Big Ten volleyball title at the UW Field House in Madison, Wis., Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Fans of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrate during the fourth quarter in the “Deer District” outside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., Tuesday, July 20, 2021. The team earned a 105-98 win over the Phoenix Suns to win their first NBA Championship title since 1971. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Milwaukee Bucks Grand Dancer Juju Gramms hands out “Fear the Deer” towels to fans gathered at the Deer District in Milwaukee, Wis., Wednesday, July 14, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Waunakee’s Sarah Bova, left, and Chloe Larsen, right cross the finish line of the girls 400 meter dash as the event’s winner, Brooklyn Sandvig of Chippewa Falls falls to a first place finish in the event during the WIAA Division 1 state track and field championships at UW-La Crosse in La Crosse, Wis., Saturday, June 26, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Lions running back D’Andre Swift (32) jumps over Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) during the second half at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Monday, Sept. 20, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin Badgers running back Jalen Berger (8) is brought down by Eastern Michigan Eagles defensive back T.J. Peavy (8) and Eastern Michigan Eagles defensive back Mark Lee Jr. (17) during the first quarter at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. KAYLA WOLF, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin forward Maddi Wheeler (28) celebrates her goal with teammate defenseman Grace Bowlby (13) and defenseman Mayson Toft (14), at left, in the second period of a women’s hockey game against St. Cloud St. at LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
New Glarus-Monticello’s Darris Schuett (13) is tackled by Belleville’s J Jay Wenger (3) and Tyler Fahey (5) during the first half of a game between the teams at New Glarus High School in New Glarus, Wis. Friday, May 7, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
DeForest’s Jocelyn Pickhardt hugs teammate, Alexys Scheuerell, front, after crossing the finish line and qualifying for state in the girls 800 meter relay during the WIAA Division 1 track and field sectional at Mansfield Stadium in Madison, Wis., Thursday, June 17, 2021. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Waunakee’s Max Brud celebrates with his coach, Betsy Zadra, after holing a 98-yard shot for an eagle on the 13th hole of the WIAA Division 1 state golf championship in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., Tuesday, June 15, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Snow and frost hold to the branches of trees along University Bay Drive on the campus of UW-Madison in Madison, Wis. Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL