Canadian Painter

Harold Town, 66, a Canadian abstract painter who helped bring his country's art into the international mainstream and who also became known for his offbeat personality, died of cancer Dec. 27 at his farm near Peterborough, Ont.

In the late 1950s, he became a founding member of the modernist group Painters Eleven. He lampooned other artists, picketed against pop art, marketed one of his paintings as a jigsaw puzzle and illustrated books that sold for $150 apiece.

Mr. Town had dropped painting altogether for a time after working on 40 canvases at a time, and turned to lithography, drawing, collage, etching and sculpture. For years he was unsuccessful at selling his abstract work, which was received with contempt and shock by a conservative art community. By the late 1950s, he was becoming a name artist in the national and international art circuit.


Italian Industry Minister

Franco Piga, 63, Italy's state industry minister who recently mediated a battle for control of the country's chemical industry, died of a heart attack Dec. 26 at a hospital in the Dolomite resort of Cortina D'Ampezzo, where he was spending Christmas holidays.

He played a key role in working out an agreement between the state energy group ENI and the private chemical industry giant Montedison, allowing ENI to buy a controlling stake in their long-disputed joint-venture, Enimont.

Mr. Piga, a Christian Democrat, received the post in Premier Giulio Andreotti's government in July, after five ministers quit in a political dispute. From 1984 to 1988, he had served as head of the Italian stock market regulatory agency, Consob.


Hollywood Art Director

Gene Callahan, 67, an Academy Award-winning set designer and art director who worked on more than 50 movies and 1,000 television programs, died Dec. 26 at his home in Baton Rouge, La., after a heart attack.

He won Oscars for his set design work in "The Hustler," which starred Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason, and for art direction in "America, America." He was also nominated for his work on "The Cardinal."


TV Producer-Director

Richard Irving, 73, a television director and producer whose credits included "Columbo" and the "Six Million Dollar Man," died Dec. 23 in Los Angeles after surgery for a heart ailment.

Most recently, he had directed the ABC series "The Insiders" and NBC's "Hell Town." He also had produced the TV movie "The Last Days of Pompeii."