Musical Chairs

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Musical Chairs


Musical chairs is being played by past and present curators at New York City's Whitney Museum of American Art under the direction of Maxwell Anderson, former director of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto who took over for David Ross, now director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in September 1998. But the transitional games have not been smooth, as chronicled almost daily as the events unfolded in The New York Times. In November, Anderson announced that he would reorganize the Whitney's curatorial structure with one senior curator and one curator heading each of seven departments (Prewar, Postwar, Contemporary, Photography, Film and Video, Prints and Drawings) and named six people from the existing staff to continue. In December Lisa Phillips, appointed as Contemporary curator, announced that she would not stay at the Whitney but would instead succeed Marcia Tucker as director of New York City's recently remodeled New Museum of Contemporary Art. Phillips had been at the Whitney for 23 years and had been involved in every Biennial exhibition from 1985 to 1993, becoming the Biennial's curator in 1997. Connie Wolf, former associate director for public programs at the Whitney, left New York to become the first director of San Francisco's new Jewish Museum.

Back at the Whitney, Eugenie Tsai, former associate curator and curator of Branches for the Whitney, replaced Adam Weinberg as senior curator. She is responsible for the development and programming of the permanent collection and will continue to curate exhibitions. Her previous projects such as "Lee Mingwei: Way Stations," "Gazing Back: Shigeko Kubota and Mary Lucier" and "Fact & Fiction: Photographs from the permanent collection" have placed a particular emphasis on photography, video and performance works. No longer are senior curators specialists in painting: Tsai's Ph.D. dissertation was on earthwork artist Robert Smithson.

Weinberg left his post as senior curator of the Whitney to serve as Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, replacing John M. "Jock" Reynolds, now director of the Yale University Art Gallery. Weinberg joined the Whitney in 1993 and helped establish the permanent photography collection. Although the Whitney was one of the last major New York City museums to create a photography collection, the Whitney now has over 15,000 photographs. …

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