Gary Tinterow, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today announced an important curatorial transition for the Museum: Anne Wilkes Tucker, founding Curator of the Department of Photography, will retire in June 2015, having led the Department since 1976. Malcolm Daniel, longtime Curator and former Head of the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has been appointed to succeed her.
“Over more than three decades, Anne Tucker’s passion for photography consistently produced path-breaking exhibitions and publications that placed the medium at the center of cultural discourse and made the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a leader in the field,” Tinterow said.
“Many of these exhibitions, most recently WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, redefined their subjects or articulated them to an American audience for the first time. Her acquisition of more than 29,000 works, many of them the result of long-standing relationships with contemporary photographers, vaulted our collection to preeminence. The legacy cannot be overstated. As Anne anticipated retirement, she and I both agreed that Malcolm Daniel was the ideal successor to build on her achievements, bringing singular expertise in the early chapters of photography and a proven record of scholarship, intellectual rigor and fresh perspectives on both historical material and contemporary art.”
Over the course of her career at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Tucker has organized or co-organized more than 40 exhibitions, including landmark presentations that helped define scholarship of underexplored areas of the medium. These include Czech Modernism: 1900–1945 (1989), the first major museum exhibition in the United States to chart the explosion of creativity in pre- and postwar Eastern Europe; The History of Japanese Photography (2003), which illuminated the rich legacy of photographic practice in Japan; and the currently touring WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath (2012), an unprecedented exploration of war through the eyes of photographers. She has also authored dozens of publications, including the WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition catalogue, which received the prestigious 2013 Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for best photography book. Tucker was named America’s Best Curator by TIME magazine in 2001.
“Having contemplated retirement for several years, I felt the moment was right with the conclusion of the 10-year war-photography project with my colleagues Will Michels and Natalie Zelt,” commented Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography. “It’s a privilege to be able to work with Malcolm Daniel for 18 months as he leads the Department, its program and the collections into this new and exciting chapter.”
Hired in 1976 to establish a Department of Photography and build a collection, Tucker arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, to nascent holdings of 141 images. The strengths of the collection she built are works made in the United States and Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries. Under her direction, collecting strategies have focused on collections within collections, from Czech Modernist works and photographs by Bauhaus faculty and students to post-World War II Italian work, conceptual and performance-art photography and contemporary Mexican photography. She acquired nearly 100 photographs from Edward Steichen’s estate and other sources; worked with Irving Penn and with his estate to build the Museum’s holdings of Penn’s work; and built a major collection of the work of Robert Frank in the late 1970s and 1980s, including all 84 photographs from Frank’s The Americans, in addition to some 200 photographs made just before and just after that landmark project, as well as many of his films. Tucker brought in additional collections, spanning the history of the medium, including the encyclopedic Manfred Heiting Collection and the important Houston collections of Joan Morgenstern and Michael Marvins, both comprehensive holdings of the history of the medium.
Today, the collection stands at more than 29,000 photographs by some 4,000 artists, created on each of the seven continents. Many of the great practitioners are represented in depth, including, in addition to Steichen, Penn and Frank, legends Diane Arbus, W. Eugene Smith, Roy DeCarava, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Josef Sudek, Brett Weston and Brassaï, and contemporary photographers Simon Norfolk, Richard Misrach, Catherine Wagner, Joel Sternfeld, Gay Block, Lewis Baltz and Nicholas Nixon.
Malcolm Daniel, 56, is the Senior Curator and former Curator in Charge of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the world’s preeminent curators of 19th-century photography. A specialist in the early history of photography in France and Great Britain, Daniel has curated or co-curated some 25 exhibitions during his 23-year tenure at the Metropolitan, including The Photographs of Édouard Baldus (1994); Edgar Degas, Photographer (1998); The Dawn of Photography: French Daguerreotypes, 1839–1855 (2003); All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852–1860 (2004); Napoleon III and Paris (2009); Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand (2010); Photographic Treasures from the Collection of Alfred Stieglitz (2011); Naked before the Camera (2012); and Julia Margaret Cameron (2013). He is the author of numerous books and articles; has served as Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts; and was a 2010 Fellow at the prestigious Center for Curatorial Leadership.
During Daniel’s nine-year leadership of the Department, the Metropolitan acquired some 20,000 photographs spanning the full history of the medium. He spearheaded the acquisition of individual masterpieces, ranging from William Henry Fox Talbot and Baron Gros to Edgar Degas and László Moholy-Nagy, as well as the renowned Gilman Paper Company Collection of 8,500 photographs from the first century of the medium, 1839 to 1939.
“I am thrilled to be joining the extraordinary Department that Anne Tucker has led so brilliantly since its founding,” commented Daniel. “The collections, support network and avid public that Anne has built at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, are known the world over, and I look forward to building on that foundation as we further enrich the collection and develop exhibitions that tell the story of photography from its origins to the present day.”
Daniel received his B.A. from Trinity College, Hartford, in art history and studio art in 1978; his M.A. in Modern art from Princeton University in 1987; and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1991. He will start his new position as Curator in Charge of the Department of Photography and Curator of Special Projects at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, on December 9, working alongside Tucker until her retirement, in June 2015.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Founded in 1900, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is among the 10 largest art museums in the United States. Located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, the MFAH comprises two gallery buildings, a sculpture garden, theater, two art schools and two libraries, with two house museums, for American and European decorative arts, nearby. The encyclopedic collection of the MFAH numbers some 65,000 works and spans the art of antiquity to the present.