(NEW YORK, JUNE 15, 2004)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art today announced a major restructuring and redefinition of curatorial responsibilities at the Museum with the creation of a new and expanded department: Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art, embracing European paintings from 1800 to the present, as well as international 20th-century sculpture, drawings, prints, decorative arts, and design. The integrated and broadened new department will enjoy the mandate—and, within several years, additional new gallery space as well—to bring to the public the full and dynamic story of modern art, in all media, from its beginnings to the present day.
Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan, said in announcing the reorganization that the expanded department will be entrusted to the Metropolitan's Gary Tinterow, its longtime Engelhard Curator of 19th-Century European Paintings, who will become Engelhard Curator in Charge of the new Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art. Under the reorganization plan, responsibility for European works created after 1800 will be transferred from the Met's European Paintings department, which is headed by Everett Fahy, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, to the new curatorial department to be led by Mr. Tinterow.
Mr. de Montebello announced further that William S. Lieberman, the distinguished curator who for 25 years has led the Met's Department of Modern Art (known before 1999 as the Department of 20th Century Art), will continue to play a major and active role in the museum's and the new department's future as Jacques and Natasha Gelman Chairman Emeritus and Special Consultant to Modern Art, reporting to the Director.
These changes become effective July 1.
The reorganization accompanies the recently announced plan for the internal expansion of 10,000 square feet of space for the new department. These new galleries will be built in the next few years on the second floor, along the south end of the Museum, directly above the Met's Oceanic Galleries in the Rockefeller Wing. "Fortuitously, this plan puts the Metropolitan in an ideal position," Mr. de Montebello said, "to use both the new space and the new curatorial department to integrate and re-deploy its vast collections to better tell the story, both chronologically and art-historically, of the birth and development of modern art."
Emphasized the Director: "From a philosophical perspective, this reorganization represents far more than an expansion or administrative change. It is the result of a finely calibrated effort to rethink the Metropolitan's entire approach to the field of modern art—in effect, to seek its future curatorial course in the roots of modern art itself."
"By making these carefully considered changes," Mr. de Montebello noted, "the Metropolitan is also recognizing the increasing importance that the Modern era will occupy in the Museum's future programs of acquisitions and exhibitions. In pursuing these goals, the institution is building on the unparalleled contributions of Bill Lieberman, who has led his department so brilliantly since 1979, spearheading countless major acquisitions and acclaimed exhibitions. And in forming an expanded department that embraces the roots of modernism in the early 19th century, the Museum is fortunate to be able to transfer leadership to Gary Tinterow, a scholar who has emerged as one of the most distinguished and influential curators in the fields of 19th- and early 20th-century art."
The Director added that the Museum would soon begin the process of reassessing some of its traditional curatorial mandates as they may relate to the new department in the future. "Over time," he said, "whether by custodial transfer of specific works, either into, or conceivably out of, the new department, and also through close collaboration and fluid exchange with other curatorial departments in future installations, the institution will be in an ideal position to convey to the public the fullest possible portrait of the period." He said that this process would involve art in all media, including photographs, prints, and the decorative arts, among others. And it will include not only European art, but American art.
Modern Art at the Metropolitan: A Recent History
Since joining The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1979 after a long and distinguished career at the Museum of Modern Art that began in 1943, William S. Lieberman has organized many major exhibitions, enlarged and enhanced the
modern-art collection through extensive gifts, bequests, and purchases, and overseen many gallery installations both before the opening of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing for modern art in 1987, and over the years since.
Among the major shows he has organized are: Modern Masters: European Paintings from The Museum of Modern Art (1980), An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection (1981), 20th Century Masters: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (1983), Henry Moore: 60 Years of His Art (1983), Balthus: A Retrospective (1984), David Hockney (1988), Boccioni: A Retrospective (1989); René Magritte (1992), Lucian Freud (1993), Sidney Nolan: The Ned Kelly Paintings (1994), Picasso and the Weeping Women (1994), Dalí: The Early Years (1994), R. B. Kitaj (1995); Ivan Albright: Magic Realist (1997), Picasso: The Engraver, Selections from the Musée Picasso, Paris (1997), Picasso: Painter and Sculptor in Clay (1997), and The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection (2004).
In addition, the Metropolitan has received a number of major collections of modern art in recent years, including: the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, the Florene M. Schoenborn Collection, the Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls, 90 works by Paul Klee, the Dave and Reba Williams collection of works by African-American artists, and in 2003 the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation Collection, currently the subject of a three-part exhibition at the Metropolitan.
Gary Tinterow has served as Engelhard Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan since 1983, after receiving from the Museum the previous year a Theodore Rousseau Fellowship. A magna cum laude graduate of Brandeis University, he received his graduate degree from Harvard University and spent the early years of his career as a curatorial assistant at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis (where he later served as an acting curator), the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, where he served in the drawings department, and the Tate Gallery, London, where he was a guest curator.
Mr. Tinterow has organized a number of acclaimed exhibitions, beginning early in his career with Master Drawings by Picasso (Fogg Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1981); The Essential Cubism (Tate Gallery, London, 1983); and Juan Gris: A Retrospective (Biblioteca National, Madrid, 1985). At the Met, his exhibitions, many of which were mounted in collaboration with, and traveled to, major museums the world over, have included a number of the best-attended shows ever mounted at the institution, among them: Degas (1988); From Poussin to Matisse: The Russian Taste for French Painting (1990); Seurat (1991); Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection (1993); Origins of Impressionism (1994); Corot (1996), The Private Collection of Edgar Degas (1997); Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch (1999); and most recently Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting (2002); and A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University (2003).
As curator of 19th-century paintings at the Met, Mr. Tinterow has worked to acquire a large number of significant paintings for the Museum's collections, including works by Chassériau, Delacroix, Gérard, Gericault, Girodet, and Prud'hon. He advised the late Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Annenberg in their acquisition of two important works by Van Gogh that were given to the Museum along with their entire collection. And Mr. Tinterow conceived and executed the reorganization and new design of the highly acclaimed 19th-century European Paintings Galleries. He will be responsible for the new expansion of galleries for 19th- and early 20th-century painting.
The author and co-author of, and contributor to, dozens of scholarly articles and major exhibition catalogues, he has lectured at museums throughout the world, and taught at Harvard, the Institute for Fine Arts at NYU, and Hunter College. Mr. Tinterow's many awards and citations include several honors for best catalogues and exhibitions from a number of professional organizations. He was made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 2000, and Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 2003. Tinterow was also a founding trustee and first president of the national Association of Art Museum Curators.
Commented Gary Tinterow: "I am looking forward to building on Mr. Lieberman's impressive legacy. In the coming years, I hope that we can create a lively program presenting contemporary art, while consolidating our collection of 20th-century masterpieces, both European and American. In doing so, I hope to work closely with my colleagues in other departments—Photographs, American Art, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and Drawings and Prints, for example—to create for the public a seamless presentation of the arts of the modern epoch."
The Museum Collections
The Metropolitan owns one of the world's great collections of art from the
19th and 20th centuries, including iconic works by David, Courbet, Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Miró, and Balthus, as well as Americans Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning, among many others. In recent years these holdings have been substantially augmented by major acquisitions—of collections, ranging from the celebrated Annenberg Collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings, to the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of 20th-century masterworks—and also of single, renowned works such as Jasper Johns' White Flag. The modern art collection currently comprises some 12,000 works in all media.
June 15, 2004