The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today announced that Gary Tinterow has been named as its seventh director. Tinterow, an internationally recognized curator and scholar who is currently the Engelhard Chairman of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, succeeds the late Peter C. Marzio, who died in December 2010. Tinterow will assume his new role in early 2012.
“Gary Tinterow has built an impeccable record of scholarship and connoisseurship over several decades in his field, and he has achieved an extraordinary level of leadership within one of the world’s most renowned institutions,” Cornelia Long, chair of the board of the MFAH, said in announcing the appointment. “These qualities, along with his commitment to engaging a broad range of audiences through innovative programming and partnerships, are essential to the future of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.”
“Without question Gary Tinterow is the leader to guide the MFAH through the evolving complexities of what it means to be a museum of the 21st century,” commented Richard D. Kinder, chair of the search committee and long-range planning committee of the MFAH. “With the MFAH poised for its next phase of growth, and an expansion devoted to post-1900 art, his proven curatorial, leadership, fundraising and planning skills will assure the museum’s future success.”
“I feel deeply honored to be invited to join one of the most distinguished institutions in the country,” said Tinterow. “With its nearly unparalleled resources – passionate, experienced and knowledgeable trustees; a large and well-informed audience in a dynamic community; a fine collection with great strengths in many domains; remarkable and dedicated staff and volunteers; and the ability to mount ambitious programs while maintaining fiscal stability – the MFAH is perfectly positioned to become one of the best museums in the world. And, needless to say, I am thrilled to be returning to Houston, my hometown.”
For twenty years, Tinterow, 58, served as curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before becoming curator in charge of the newly formed department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art in 2004 and chairman of that department in 2008. He has organized dozens of acclaimed exhibitions, accompanied by significant publications, many of which were mounted in collaboration with, and traveled to, major museums around the world. A number of these shows were among the best-attended exhibitions ever presented at the Metropolitan. They include Degas (1988); Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection (1993); Origins of Impressionism (1994); Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch (1999); Manet/Velázquez, The French Taste for Spanish Painting (2004); Kara Walker at the Met: After the Deluge (2006), one of a series of exhibitions inviting artists to show their own work alongside objects they select from the collection; Francis Bacon: A Retrospective (2009); and Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2010), an exhibition drawn solely from the Metropolitan’s holdings that drew 700,000 visitors.
Since 2005, Tinterow has directed the Metropolitan’s acclaimed “On the Roof” programming, commissioning seven site-specific projects from such artists as Cai Guo-Qiang, Frank Stella, Roxy Paine, Jeff Koons and Mike + Doug Starn. The projects have attracted up to 800,000 visitors during these six-month installations and have made the Roof Garden of the Metropolitan one of New York’s top destinations. In addition, Tinterow played a key role in the conception and subsequent planning stages of the collaboration between the Metropolitan and the Whitney Museum of American Art to provide for the Metropolitan’s expansion into the Whitney’s landmark Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. Announced earlier this year, the project is slated to launch in 2015 with the Whitney’s move to its new building on Gansevoort Street.
During his distinguished tenure, Tinterow has acquired dozens of significant works of art for the collection of the Metropolitan: from paintings by Ingres, Gericault and Delacroix to Manet, Degas and Seurat, and from Stanley Spencer and Robert Rauschenberg to George Condo; sculptures from Barbara Hepworth and Jean Tinguely to Anish Kapoor; prints from Pablo Picasso to Ellsworth Kelly and Julie Mehretu; and drawings by Diego Rivera and Matisse to Richard Serra; along with a monumental tapestry by El Anatsui.
In 1993, Tinterow spearheaded the museum’s acquisition of two celebrated works by Van Gogh – including the artist’s Wheatfield with Cypresses (1889), the most expensive purchase ever made by the Metropolitan. Tinterow was also instrumental to discussions that led to the gift from Ambassador and Mrs. Walter Annenberg of their collection of 53 works by Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Picasso and others. Since then, he has shepherded the gift and bequest of other renowned collections, including the gift of the Eugene V. Thaw collection of European oil sketches.
While at the Met, Tinterow also directed two significant gallery renovations that were widely praised: the renovation and reinstallation of the 30,000-square-foot Nineteenth-Century European Painting and Sculpture Galleries, which opened in 1993, and the 10,000-square-foot expansion to create the ten new adjacent galleries, completed in 2007, allowing the museum to display newly acquired European oil sketches, and paintings by Scandinavian and German artists, alongside its legendary collection of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.
Tinterow has also conducted a range of national and international collaborative projects, and is currently organizing shows with the Musée d’Orsay and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In addition to his extensive curatorial record, over three decades Tinterow has contributed extensively to scholarship in the fields of nineteenth- and twentieth-century art as the author and co-author of, and contributor to, more than 60 major exhibition catalogues and other publications. He has lectured at museums throughout the world and taught at Harvard University, the Institute for Fine Arts at New York University and Hunter College. His many awards and citations include several honors for best catalogues and exhibitions from a number of professional organizations. He was made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 2000, and Officer of the French Order of Arts and Letters in 2003. Tinterow was the founding president of the Association of Art Museum Curators and continues to serve as a trustee of the 1,100-member organization. He is a trustee of the Thomas Moran Trust and the chairman of the Marbletown, New York, Historic Preservation Commission.
A native of Houston, Tinterow is a 1976 magna cum laude graduate of Brandeis University. He received his graduate degree from Harvard University’s Department of Fine Arts, where he studied from 1976 to 1983, and a diploma from the Center for Curatorial Leadership of the Columbia University Business School in 2008. He spent the early years of his career as a curatorial assistant at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – working in 1975 with then-director William C. Agee and in 1976 with then-curator of modern art Linda Henderson – the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard and the Tate Gallery, London. He joined the staff of the Metropolitan Museum in 1983.
About the MFAH
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the ten largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, one designed by Mies van der Rohe, the other by Rafael Moneo; an Isamu Noguchi-designed sculpture garden; two libraries, a theater and two art schools; and two nearby house museums, for American and European decorative arts. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 63,000 works of art, spanning antiquity to the present.