PROVIDENCE, RI.- The Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design
announces that, after nearly 13 years at the Museum, Judith Tannenbaum will leave her post as Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art in February 2013. She will continue her involvement with the Museum as an adjunct curator through 2014.
"Since arriving at the RISD Museum in 2000 as our first full-time curator of contemporary art, Judith has established our contemporary program as one of the most distinguished in the country," says Museum Director John W. Smith. "Her record of provocative, intellectually rigorous exhibitions and her many important acquisitions have enriched the Museum in important and lasting ways. While Judith will be sorely missed by her colleagues at the Museum and College ---- as well as the larger Providence community ---- we all look forward to continuing to benefit from her association with the Museum for years to come."
Tannenbaum joined the RISD Museum in 2000 after an esteemed tenure at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania ---- where, over the course of 14 years, she variously served as curator, associate director, and interim director. In 2002, after just two years at RISD, she was named the Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art ----the Museum's and College's first endowed position.
Among her many notable achievements at RISD, Tannenbaum has greatly increased the number of objects in the Museum's contemporary collection, adding works by prominent artists such as Lynda Benglis, Joseph Beuys, Tom Friedman, David Hammons, Jenny Holzer (RISD MFA '77, Painting), Sol LeWitt, Christian Marclay, John McCracken, Richard Tuttle, and Franz West. She also acquired early works by emerging artists, including Leidy Churchman, Tavares Strachan, Mika Tajima, and Ryan Trecartin; and has championed mature artists who deserve to be better known, such as Peter Campus, Jim Isermann, and Mimi Smith.
As the Richard Brown Baker Curator, Tannenbaum has made Museum purchases in the spirit of the eclectic art collector and Providence native (1912-2002) for whom the endowment is named. Through the Richard Brown Baker Fund for Contemporary British Art, Tannenbaum added significant works by Karla Black, Martin Boyce, Keith Coventry, Richard Deacon, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Ryan Gander, Susan Hiller, Richard Long, Paul Morrison, Julian Opie, Grayson Perry, Eva Rothschild, Yinka Shonibare, and Carey Young, among many others. Through Tannenbaum and the Richard Brown Baker Fund, the RISD Museum was the first American museum to acquire works by British artists Phyllida Barlow, Roger Hiorns, and Haroon Mirza.
Shortly after coming to the RISD Museum, Tannenbaum initiated an active exhibition program of video art, as well as acquiring a range of time-based works for the collection. In 2008, the Museum opened the Anne, Michael and Amelia Spalter New Media Gallery ---- a dedicated space which, Tannenbaum says, "emphasizes that video and new media are major art forms and should be on view in a museum all the time, the same way you expect to see paintings and sculptures."
Tannenbaum has organized about 50 exhibitions for the RISD Museum during her tenure, with an emphasis on crossovers between fine art, craft, and design; works by women artists; and performance art and new media. Among her many shows and publications are Painting Air: Spencer Finch (2012); Made in the UK: Contemporary Art from the Richard Brown Baker Collection (2011); Lynda Benglis (2010); Styrofoam (2008); Beth Lipman: After You're Gone (2008); Wunderground: Providence, 1995 to the Present (2006); Betty Woodman: Il Giardino Dipinto (2005); Island Nations: New Art from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Diaspora (2004); On the Wall: Wallpaper by Contemporary Artists (2003); and Jim Isermann: Logic Rules (2000). Three exhibitions currently on view at the Museum ---- Everyday Things: Contemporary Works from the Collection, RISD Business: Sassy Signs and Sculptures by Alejandro Diaz, and Double-and-Add: Angela Bulloch, Anthony McCall, and Haroon Mirza ---- underscore the breadth of her engagement with contemporary art.
"It's been a privilege to work with so many wonderful artists," Tannenbaum says. "I've enjoyed being part of the Providence arts community, and I plan to stay active in the field and am pleased to continue my relationship with the Museum." She adds that she will relocate to Philadelphia, where she will pursue independent projects and writing interests.
The first exhibition Tannenbaum will bring to the Museum as an adjunct curator is a December 2013 show of ceramic sculpture by Arlene Shechet (RISD MFA '78, Ceramics), related to the Museum's collection of Meissen porcelains. She is also planning an alternative history of art from the 1960s to the 1990s focusing on particular groups of figurative artists in Chicago, the San Francisco Bay area, Detroit, and Providence-scheduled to open in the Chace Center galleries in fall 2014.
While in Providence, Tannenbaum has served on RISD's Honorary Degree Committee (2003-2004, 2011-2012) and as a juror and presenter for RISD's Athena Awards (2004-2006), recognizing outstanding achievements and leadership in arts and design. She has also been a juror for the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation's 2007 Biennial Competition, the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation grants for artists (2008), and the 2005 Portland Museum of Art Biennial (Maine). She served on the review panel for The Boston Foundation's 2009 Brother Thomas Fellowship Awards, as a curatorial consultant for The Clay Studio in Philadelphia (2009), and on the curatorial committee for the Colby College Museum of Art's exhibition The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture: 60 Years (2005). She was a member of the advisory board of Festival Ballet Providence from 2005 to 2008.
Tannenbaum has spoken as a contemporary arts expert on a broad range of topics, including "Imperfect Moments: Mapplethorpe and Censorship 20 Years Later" at the University of Pennsylvania (2009); "Controversial Art and the Constitution" for the Roger Williams American Inn of Court (Rhode Island, 2009); "Reflections on the Richard Brown Baker Collection of Contemporary Art," for the Yale University Art Gallery symposium Postwar Art and the New York Contemporary Art Market (2008); "Hera: The Women's Art Movement and the Future of Feminist Art" for The Rhode Island Foundation (2004); and "Contemporary Wallpaper: Subverting the Domestic" at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (2003).