N EW YORK – On 4 April, the New Museum celebrated its 40th Anniversary Spring Gala at Cipriani Wall Street. The evening honoured artist Chris Ofili, New Museum President Saul Dennison and Allan Schwartzman, a Founder and Principal of Art Agency, Partners and EVP, Chairman at Sotheby’s, who also sponsored the event. “The New Museum has always put artists at its forefront, and this was very visible by the many artists who were present at the gala” said Schwartzman referring to Jeff Koons, Brice Marden, Ugo Rondione, Raymond Pettibon, Marilyn Minter, Mickalene Thomas and many more in attendance. But not only was Schwartzman the museum’s first curator, he was also its first employee.
ALLAN SCHWARTZMAN AND JEFF KOONS AT THE GALA. PHOTOGRAPH: LEANDRO JUSTEN/BFA.COM
In 1976 between his sophomore and junior years of college, Schwartzman took a temporary clerical job at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Soon, he began assisting curators, including Patterson Sims, Paul Cummings and Marcia Tucker, who started the New Museum in 1977, after being fired from the Whitney following her controversial Richard Tuttle exhibition. Tucker hired Schwartzman, who went from knowing little about contemporary art to becoming part of the first curatorial team at this haven for untested and undervalued art. “Marcia was a charismatic and inspiring person, the last of a great generation of curators, who were an integral part of the artist community and who exhibited radical new ideas,” Schwartzman said of Tucker, who died in 2006.
After leaving the New Museum in 1980, Schwartzman worked as a dealer, writer and critic, independent curator, art advisor and developed ambitious projects such as Inhotim, a contemporary at museum in rural Brazil. He attributes his success to his earliest days at the New Museum.
ALLAN SCHWARTZMAN PRESENTING HIS SPEECH. PHOTOGRAPH: LEANDRO JUSTEN/BFA.COM
“Many of the art collections I have worked on have centred on reexamining the history of postwar art, on unearthing previously under-recognised precincts of important artistic invention that had remained hidden, at least to American museums, collectors, and audiences,” Schwartzman said. “Marcia embedded this iconoclastic spirit of challenging the status quo in me, and the spirit of The New Museum continues to be the driving force in all that I have since pursued.”
Lead image: Zach Hilty/BFA.com.