Ann Temkin Dissertation Outline

Ann Temkin assumed the role of Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture in 2008, after joining The Museum of Modern Art in 2003 as Curator. During her tenure, Ms. Temkin has focused especially on the acquisitions program of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, and on reimagining the Museum’s collection galleries. The acquisitions program has followed a three-pronged approach: to strengthen the holdings of landmark works by modern artists whom the Museum collects in depth; to widen its breadth with works by historical artists new to the department’s collection, especially women, artists of African descent, and artists working outside of Europe and North America; and to collect actively from the new generation of artists working today.

Ms. Temkin is currently preparing an exhibition of the work of Donald Judd. Exhibitions she has organized or co-organized at MoMA include Picasso Sculpture (2015), Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor (2014), Jasper Johns: Regrets (2014); Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New (2013); Ellsworth Kelly: Chatham Series (2013); Claes Oldenburg: The Street and The Store and Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing (2013); Abstract Expressionist New York (2010); Gabriel Orozco (2009); and Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today (2008).

From 1990 to 2003, Ms. Temkin was the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her exhibitions there included Barnett Newman (2002), Alice Neel (2001), Constantin Brancusi (1995), and Thinking Is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys (1994), as well as a series of contemporary projects titled Museum Studies. Ms. Temkin is an ex-officio Trustee at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and a member of the California Institute of the Arts Board of Overseers. She was born in Connecticut, and received her BA from Harvard University and her PhD in the history of art from Yale University.

Photo: Peter Ross

“Sometimes you have to look way outside to realize what you have within,” he added. Among those who are said to have been considered are Paul Schimmel, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; Philippe Vergne, the former deputy director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the new director of the Dia Art Foundation; and Donna De Salvo, chief curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

One of Ms. Temkin’s long-term challenges will be planning the reinstallation of the collection as the museum adds roughly 50,000 square feet of gallery space. Plans call for the Modern to extend its galleries on the second, fourth and fifth floors into a 75-story tower designed by the architect Jean Nouvel that is to be completed in three or four years.

Ms. Temkin said that one of her priorities would be to “change our viewers’ experience in many ways,” especially by integrating painting and sculpture with other mediums. The Modern and many other museums still have separate departments for painting and sculpture, film and video, and prints and drawings.

Ms. Temkin called that approach outdated. She said that she planned to “reflect the way artists work today, where these divisions are far less prevalent.”

She also intends to change the works in the permanent galleries more frequently. “I’d like to mix the foundation of the collection in new ways, to animate those galleries so they are constantly full of unexpected revelations,” she said.

Unlike Mr. Elderfield, whose chief scholarly interests ranged from artists like Bonnard, Picasso and Matisse to postwar artists like Bridget Riley and Richard Diebenkorn, Ms. Temkin is more firmly grounded in postwar and contemporary art, keeping up with many notable figures working today.

She earned her doctorate in art history at Yale and worked at the Modern from 1984 to 1987 as a curatorial assistant in the painting and sculpture department. Taking the job of curator of modern and contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1990, she organized exhibitions on artists including Barnett Newman, Alice Neel and Raymond Pettibon.

On Mr. Elderfield’s watch, the Modern hired Ms. Temkin in 2003 to work on a curatorial team in the painting and sculpture department. In addition to helping reinstall painting and sculpture galleries when the museum reopened in 2004, she organized shows like “Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today,” which closed in May, and “Against the Grain: Contemporary Art From the Edward R. Broida Collection,” in 2006.

This spring and summer she rearranged several of the museum’s painting and sculpture collection galleries, including those devoted to Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism and Postminimalism, and organized one of the museum’s “Focus” series installations, a gallery of work by Joseph Beuys.

She has also been responsible for important acquisitions of works by artists like Beuys, Donald Judd, Robert Gober and Matthew Barney. She will coordinate the New York version of “Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective,” a show organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles that arrives at MoMA in February. She is also at work on an exhibition of the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco that is expected to open in December 2009.

Among her publications are works on Newman, Neel, Beuys and Mr. Pettibon.

“One of the big advantages is that we’ve had the benefit of seeing how scholarly Ann is,” said Leon D. Black, a longtime MoMA board member who is chairman of the trustee’s painting and sculpture committee.

The Modern’s next hiring challenge is finding a replacement for Alanna Heiss, founding director of its P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens, who retires at the end of the year.

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