BAHM | 2.20.18 | Kynaston McShine
Kynaston McShine, who passed away in January of this year, was the Curator at Large of the Museum of Modern Art in NY and the first curator of color of a major American museum. He held five positions at MoMA over the course of 40 years, including Associate Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Curator of Exhibitions, Senior Curator, and Acting Chief Curator. In 1965, he joined the Jewish Museum in NY as Curator of Painting and Sculpture and eventually becoming Acting Director from 1967 to 1968. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, McShine attended Dartmouth College and took up graduate work at University of Michigan and NYU's Institute of Fine Art.
At the Jewish Museum, McShine debuted the groundbreaking exhibition, Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculptures in 1966, which is considered the first museum survey of Minimalist art and helped to solidify the term in art historical discourse. The exhibition featured the work of Judy Chicago (then Judy Gerowitz), Ann Truitt, Sol LeWitt, Ellsworth Kelly, and Dan Flavin, among others, and reflected changing public perceptions about art.
As Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, McShine curated another groundbreaking exhibition in 1970 titled, Information, and featuring more than 150 artists from 15 countries. This exhibition explored the artist's intervention in the museum space and active visitor participation along with the role of new technologies such as photography and film, in the democratization of art making. The exhibition featured the work of Vito Acconci, Daniel Buren, Ed Ruscha, and Yayoi Kusama, among others.
As Director of MoMA, the museum presented major retrospectives of artists Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Cornell, and Marcel Duchamp. McShine's 1985 exhibition, An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, which sought to present the most notable recent work in contemporary art and featured the work of 165 artists, 13 of which were women, incited protest by a newly formed group called the Guerrilla Girls. In 1999, he curated The Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect, which explored institutional critique and featured the work of Duchamp, Cornell, Hans Haacke, Fred Wilson and more.