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Portland Art Museum Chief Curator Bruce Guenther announces retirement
During his 14-year tenure, Guenther led and grew the curatorial team to its current level of seven curators.

PORTLAND, ORE.- The Portland Art Museum today announced the retirement of Bruce Guenther, chief curator and The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

“It has been an honor to have worked with Bruce. As chief curator, he has played a critical role in helping define not only our modern and contemporary program, but also our larger curatorial vision and aspirations. His years of experience, knowledge, and deep commitment have left an indelible imprint upon our institution and community. Bruce will be missed," said Brian Ferriso, The Marilyn H. and Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Director.

During his 14-year tenure, Guenther led and grew the curatorial team to its current level of seven curators, including five endowed positions, presenting more than 20 exhibitions and dossier presentations each year. He was responsible for exhibition publications from concept through production. Guenther played a key role in the Museum’s last capital project, which resulted in the opening of the 28,000-square-foot Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art in 2005.

Guenther was responsible for the addition of more than 4,000 works to the permanent collections, including the acquisition of the Clement Greenberg Collection, 58 works from Eli and Edythe Broad, and 300 works from the estate of Los Angeles collector Judd Hammack, including works by Frank Auerbach, Sherrie Levine, Jasper Johns, and Brice Marden. Guenther also oversaw notable acquisitions, including The Ox Cart by Vincent van Gogh, Patrician Barnacle by Robert Rauschenberg, and Brushstrokes by Roy Lichtenstein.

Guenther curated dozens of special exhibitions, including major retrospectives and publications of significant Northwest artists Hilda Morris and Lee Kelly. He curated the 2012 retrospective of Mark Rothko and the contemporary survey Disquieted. He also collaborated on, and host curated, important international exhibitions including La Volupté du Goût: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour, The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece, and this summer’s The Art of the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden.

The 24 Contemporary Art Series exhibitions and a number of singular installations curated by Guenther have brought the most important contemporary artists from around the world to the Museum’s galleries, exposing our community to the work of Sophie Calle, Damien Hirst, Kehinde Wiley, Bruce Nauman, and Gerhard Richter. Guenther was instrumental in securing the Miller Meigs Endowment for the Contemporary Arts that funds the Museum’s exhibitions in that area. Of significant note was last year’s Masterworks/Portland presentation of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud. After it set auction records, nearly 100,000 visitors had the rare opportunity to see this important 20th-century work before it went into a private collection.

Prior to his joining the Portland Art Museum in 2000, Guenther’s career included curatorial positions at several noteworthy institutions. He was the curator of contemporary art at the Seattle Art Museum, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and chief curator of the Orange County Museum of Art. A native Oregonian, Guenther began his professional career at the Portland Art Museum in the early 1970s as a National Endowment for the Arts curatorial intern.

He has organized exhibitions in Japan, South America, and Europe, as well as contributing essays to more than 80 publications.

Guenther’s last day will be October 20, following the anticipated opening of his latest exhibition, In Passionate Pursuit: The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Collection and Legacy.

The Museum will launch an international search for a chief curator and curator of modern and contemporary art.

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