Seattle Art Museum (SAM) Names Catharina Manchanda as Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Catharina Manchanda, former Senior Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, will join the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) as the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, announced Charlie Wright, Chairman of SAM’s Board of Trustees. Manchanda will begin her tenure at SAM on August 17, 2011.

Manchanda will oversee the museum’s modern and contemporary artistic program and collection at each of its three sites: SAM Downtown, Seattle Asian Art Museum, and the Olympic Sculpture Park. Along with Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Marisa Sánchez, Manchanda will also work closely with collectors and artists.

”We are thrilled to welcome Catharina to the SAM team,” said Wright. “She is a well-recognized expert in the field of modern and contemporary art and we were very impressed with her prior curatorial experience. It is a happy coincidence that she moved to Seattle last summer and is already somewhat familiar with the art community here.” “I can speak for my curatorial colleagues when I say how excited we are to welcome her to our team,” added Chiyo Ishikawa, SAM’s Deputy Director for Art.

During her time at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Manchanda curated exhibitions such as Cyprien Gaillard: Disquieting Landscapes, Harry Shearer: the Silent Echo Chamber, and Catch Air: Robin Rhode. Her publications include “Probing History and Its Displays: A Conceptual Intervention,” “The Architecture of Images: Photographic Perspectives,” and “Object Lessons: Richter’s Nine Objects.” Furthermore, Manchanda implemented university and public outreach programs and actively engaged the local community through studio visits with faculty, students, and local artists. Along with her work in public programming, she was also a juror on local and national art competitions.

“I am delighted to be joining SAM this August. I’ve been struck by the vibrant community of artists, collectors, educators, and art professionals in Seattle and I look forward to deepening and expanding these conversations. SAM’s rich collection of modern and contemporary art contains icons as well as rare treasures, and it will be a privilege and joy to work with this growing collection to present new and thought-provoking narratives. I am joining a formidable group of colleagues whose insights and expertise will greatly enrich my own perspective,” said Manchanda of her appointment.

Prior to her work at the Wexner she worked in curatorial positions at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She has won a number of prestigious international awards including an Andy Warhol Foundation grant, the John R. Rewald Dissertation Fellowship, and a German Academic Exchange Scholarship among others.

“Through her track record of innovative exhibitions at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum and Wexner Center for the Arts, Catharina has demonstrated distinctive scholarship and a vision for the history and future of contemporary art,” said Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. “Her curatorial leadership is a perfect match to the Seattle Art Museum’s ambitious programs and dedication to the art of our times.”

“She has that rare mix of qualities required of a curator charged with operating in the new international art scene: intellectual seriousness, aesthetic open-mindedness combined with a discerning critical mind, and singular skill at working with artists,” said Robert Storr, Dean of the Yale School of Art, who worked closely with Manchanda on two exhibitions of Gerhard Richter at the Museum of Modern Art. “The Seattle Art Museum is very lucky to have a young curator of Manchanda’s caliber step into this important role. She has everything it takes to make things happen.”

Originally from Stuttgart, Germany, Manchanda has a B.A. in art history, English and German from the University of Stuttgart in Germany (1990) and earned her M.A. in art history from the University of Delaware (1993) and Ph.D. in art history from the City University of New York (2005), where she wrote her dissertation on photography in 1960’s and 70’s German art. She currently resides in Seattle with her husband and two children.

Manchanda succeeds Michael Darling in the position; Darling is now the Chief Curator of Art at the MCA Chicago.

Image: Catharina Manchanda Photo: Robert Wade

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