Richard Armstrong, the sixth director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, indicated in an job interview in the Economical Moments now that he will be leaving his post arrive spring future year. In the course of his 14-year directorship, Armstrong presided over sea changes at the Guggenheim that were of a person piece with broader, shifting attitudes on labor, illustration, and philanthropic ties in the art environment, which includes refusing long term presents from members of the Sackler relatives and the unionization of staff members in 2019. But in modern decades, Armstrong has arrive beneath fireplace for his administration design, which some have tied to larger difficulties of gender and race equity at the museum.
In 2008, Armstrong succeeded Thomas Krens, who had been at the helm for an even for a longer time stretch of 20 yrs. Armstrong’s appointment signaled a improve in direction for the museum, which below Krens’s leadership experienced remodeled into a global brand with recently erected outposts in Bilbao, Spain Berlin, Germany and two locations in Las Vegas that shut soon just after opening. In contrast to Krens’s name as a businessman keen on escalating the endowment (which a lot more than quintupled through his tenure) and transforming the Guggenheim into a luxury manufacturer, Armstrong entered the part as an alum of the Whitney’s Unbiased Research Application, a former studio assistant to Abstract Expressionist artist Al Held and sculptor Nancy Graves, and a curator at the Whitney and later the Carnegie Museum of Artwork in Pittsburgh. Before long after he was appointed director, he explained to the Wall Avenue Journal that his purpose was to “to expand on the unique optimism and taste for the utopian that guided the museum in its beginnings.”
And without a doubt, the exhibitions that the Guggenheim place on below Armstrong could be interpreted as a return to the museum’s roots as a champion of modernist and avant-garde artists, which includes the to start with big United States display of the perform of Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (the Guggenheim’s most frequented exhibition to day) a showcase of the do the job of the German artwork motion Zero and retrospectives for László Moholy-Nagy, Agnes Martin, On Kawara, and Alberto Burri. For lots of critics, it was a welcome change from exhibits like The Artwork of the Motorcycle and a Giorgio Armani retrospective that characterised Krens’s reign.
But Armstrong was at occasions hampered by the ambitions of his predecessor. In 2006, Krens initiated programs to establish the greatest Guggenheim to day in Abu Dhabi. That construction job, besieged by quite a few delays, nonetheless remains under design 16 many years just after it was initially introduced. (It is slated to ultimately be complete in 2025.) It was also the matter of various protests arranged by the Gulf Labor artist coalition in New York and at the Guggenheim’s European spots, which decried lousy doing the job conditions in Abu Dhabi.
Armstrong confronted criticism in 2020 from present and previous personnel organizing underneath the name “A Far better Guggenheim” for “nurturing a culture of unchecked racism, sexism, and classism throughout all departments, concentrations, and spots.” Between the lots of issues shown have been that he experienced exhibited a condescending perspective toward Chaédria LaBouvier — a Black curator who arranged a 2019 Guggenheim present on Jean-Michel Basquiat and afterwards named that experience “the most racist expert expertise of my life” — and his propensity for building “culturally incompetent responses.”
Armstrong also raised eyebrows when IRS filings at the end of 2021 confirmed that he experienced manufactured a history $1.5 million in overall compensation, even as 11% of the Guggenheim’s personnel was furloughed thanks to COVID-19.
With no directly addressing these allegations, Armstrong acknowledged some of the Guggenheim’s historical shortcomings on matters of diversity in the Economical Situations job interview. “The museum presented by itself formerly as a world-wide institution, but it experienced a extremely myopic see of the globe,” he said.
In a assertion shared with Hyperallergic, the museum famous that Armstrong will continue to guide lengthy-time period and each day operations right up until his departure and get the job done with the board to discover and changeover to new leadership.