Getty Trust President and former Art Institute of Chicago Director James N. Wood died late Friday night of natural causes. Mr. Wood, age 69, was reportedly in good health and his death was unexpected. Board chairman Mark S. Siegel announced Saturday:
We are deeply saddened to announce that J. Paul Getty Trust President and CEO James N. Wood has passed away suddenly of natural causes.
Jim was internationally recognized as a leader in the arts. His passion for the visual arts and quiet, yet firm leadership were a perfect fit for the Getty. We were able to entice Jim to come to the Getty out of retirement, after 25 years as the head of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in just a little over three years under Jim’s leadership, the Getty moved forward in significant ways toward a renewed and strengthened mission.
Jim valued collaboration, and he reinforced that value at the Getty. Working with the Board, Jim led a strategic planning process that emphasized ways in which the Getty’s four programs could work together to further enhance the institution’s already strong worldwide reputation. He also saw the Getty as a catalyst to encourage Los Angeles’ many outstanding visual arts institutions to collaborate, strengthening our region’s stature as a major cultural center.
He was a private man, who acted with great kindness, strength, and dignity. The Board and the Getty’s entire staff mourn his loss, and we extend our deepest sympathy to Jim’s wife, Emese, their daughters Lenke and Rebecca, and their families.
Wood served as director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1980-2004, after which he retired with his wife Emese to Rhode Island before his appointment as President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust in December 2006. He assumed his position as CEO in February 2007, after an extensive search conducted by the Board of Trustees.
Prior to directing the Art Institute of Chicago, Wood was the director of The St. Louis Art Museum (1975-1980), an adjunct professor of art history at SUNY at Buffalo and associate director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. He also held positions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Wood sat on the boards of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, the Harvard University Art Museums, and the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design. He was also president of the board of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
Wood, 69, received his B.A. with honors in Art History from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. and his M.A. from the Institute for Fine Arts at New York University. He also holds a diploma from the University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. Wood’s areas of specialization included European paintings and sculpture of the 16th to 20th centuries, American painting and sculpture of the 19th to 20th centuries, and photography.
Arrangements are pending.