I don't think whether they are dead or alive makes much difference. Artists still have their oeuvre, even if they are dead.Great suggestion thanks! And yes, I thought that too, especially since the artist is dead..
I agree with that. I was assuming that something DID happen, and he gave up art for some reason.Wouldn't "He was an artist with a significant oeuvre" be better, unless there is something in the context that justifies "had been" (for example "He had been an artist .... until something happened")?