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).