Last December on the podcast Patricia and Brian conducted a wide-ranging interview with Larry Rinder, the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive’s then newly-appointed director, which focused on his future plans for the institution. During the interview Rinder talked about his upcoming permanent collection exhibition titled “Galaxy: A Hundred Or So Stars Visible to the Naked Eye.” That exhibition–the first Rinder has curated for BAM/PFA–is now open, and Kenneth Baker of the San Francisco Chronicle has written an informative background piece that contains further insight on the curatorial process from Rinder. I especially liked the moment where Rinder talks about the thinking that goes on in a curator’s mind whilst deciding whether or not to hang certain works side-by-side:

“Certain juxtapositions made even Rinder nervous. ‘Here I had to take a kind of curatorial pause,’ Rinder said in the top floor gallery. ‘Does one hang Warhol’s ‘Race Riot’ next to a black painting by Ad Reinhardt?'”

Organizing permanent collection shows isn’t always considered the sexy part of curating; it’s the provocatively-themed group shows and surveys by art world stars or hot up-and-comers that are supposedly where all the curatorial action is. I like how this article, along with Brian and Patricia’s interview, reminds us of how a museum’s core collection can be just as thought-provoking and fresh if approached with vigor, creativity, and a certain fearlessness when it comes to teasing out the hidden relationships in disparate artworks. Which brings me to my question: what’s your favorite permanent collection ‘moment’? Are there any curatorial choices that you’ve come across in a permanent collection show that have surprised, provoked, delighted or enraged you? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

(Baker article via Modern Art Notes).

Claudine Isé

Claudine Isé has worked in the field of contemporary art as a writer and curator for the past decade, and currently serves as the Editor of the Art21 Blog. Claudine regularly writes for Artforum.com and Chicago magazine, and has also worked as an art critic for the Los Angeles Times. Before moving to Chicago in 2008, she worked at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH as associate curator of exhibitions, and at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles as assistant curator of contemporary art, where she curated a number of Hammer Projects. She has Ph.D. in Film, Literature and Culture from the University of Southern California.