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John Elderfield To Be Chief Curator Emeritus at MoMA
John Elderfield, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo Credit: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

NEW YORK.- John Elderfield, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, will retire from that position in July 2008, it was announced today by Glenn D. Lowry, Director of the Museum. However, Mr. Elderfield will maintain a consultative role and undertake a variety of projects at MoMA, serving in an advisory capacity and continuing to develop exhibitions, including projects devoted to Henri Matisse and Willem de Kooning in 2010. In recognition of his long record of outstanding achievements at MoMA, he will be awarded the title of Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture.

Mr. Elderfield has played an integral role at MoMA since joining the Museum as Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture in 1975. Since then, he has contributed to the Museum’s curatorial excellence in a number of key positions, including Chief Curator at Large (1993-2003), Director for Curatorial Affairs (1996-99), Director of the Department of Drawings (1980-93), and, since 2003, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture. Mr. Elderfield’s retirement is in keeping with the Museum policy for Chief Curators and other senior managers to retire at age 65.

“John is internationally known for the groundbreaking scholarship he brought to numerous exhibitions and publications at MoMA,” said Mr. Lowry. “He is deeply respected throughout the art world for his curatorial dedication, collegiality, and expertise. We will miss his contributions to the daily life of the Museum, but we look forward to working with him on future MoMA projects in his new capacity. We additionally wish him the very best in all of his endeavors.”

Mr. Elderfield has been the curator of 24 exhibitions and some 20 publications at MoMA. In addition to the major survey of the work of American sculpture Martin Puryear, on view through January 14, he organized major exhibitions including Armando Reverón (2007), Manet and the Execution of Maximilian (2006), Henri Matisse: A Retrospective (1992), and Kurt Schwitters (1985), and co-organized many others, including Matisse Picasso (2003), ModernStarts (2000), and Bonnard (1998). He also conceived and oversaw the execution of the reinstallation of the Museum’s galleries for painting and sculpture for the 2004 reopening of MoMA. He is the author of numerous catalogues and essays, many of which have been recognized with awards. He is credited with bringing many major works of art into the Museum’s collection, including, most recently, Henri Matisse’s Plum Blossoms, Ochre Background (1948), Robert Rauschenberg’s Rebus (1955), and Jasper Johns’ Diver (1962-63). The Museum will begin a search for a new Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture in the coming months.

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