NEW YORK - Magda Cordell McHale, an artist who was one of the founding members of the Independent Group in London in the early 1950s and later became a renowned sociologist and writer in the field of futurism, died Feb. 21 in Buffalo. She was 86.
Her death, at the home of her friend and caretaker Denise Kelleher, was confirmed by Kelleher.
Along with her first husband - Frank Cordell, later a prominent British musician and composer - and the artist John McHale, who would become her second husband, Mrs. McHale helped convene the London-based group that started British Pop Art. Other members of the Independent Group included artists Richard Hamilton and Eduardo Paolozzi, architects Alison and Peter Smithson, and the critic Lawrence Alloway, who is often credited with inventing the term Pop Art.
In 1956, Mrs. McHale participated with the group in producing "This Is Tomorrow," a famously innovative exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, which mixed fine art and many different sorts of commercial products.
A painter herself, Mrs. McHale created expressionistic images of women in a style similar to Jean Dubuffet's. In the mid-1950s she exhibited her work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London and at the Hanover Gallery.
In 1961, having divorced and remarried, she moved with John McHale to the United States, where they embarked on careers in futurism, an interdisciplinary field that studies global prospects for human development. During the 1960s they lived in Carbondale, Ill., where John McHale worked with futurist thinker R. Buckminster Fuller at the University of Illinois.
In 1968, the couple moved to Binghamton, N.Y., where they began a Center for Integrative Studies at the State University of New York (now Binghamton University). Over the next decade, the couple became internationally known for their studies of long-range thinking about social, cultural, and ecological change. Alvin Toffler, author of "Future Shock," was one of their better-known collaborators.
In 1977, the couple moved again, to the University of Houston, to create a new version of their Center for Integrative Studies, but John McHale died the next year. In 1980, Mrs. McHale moved to Buffalo, where she recreated the Center for Integrative Studies at the University at Buffalo. After retiring in 1999, she was named professor emeritus in the department of urban and regional planning in the School of Architecture and Planning at the university.
Despite her academic achievement and the publication of numerous books on futurist topics jointly with her husband and in her own name, Mrs. McHale had no advanced formal education.
Born Magda Lustigova in Hungary, Mrs. McHale went to Palestine as a refugee during World War II and found work as a translator for British intelligence. There she met Cordell, who was working for British intelligence.