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David Revere McFadden to retire as Chief Curator of the Museum of Arts and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) announced that David Revere McFadden, the Museum’s William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator and VP of Collections and Programs, will retire from his position at the end of 2013. During his 16-year tenure, McFadden helped to shape the Museum’s unique mission and curatorial program, which explores materials and process across contemporary creation, and led the transformation of MAD into one of the most innovative contemporary art and design museums in the country. Under his leadership, the Museum’s collection has also expanded in scope and breadth into a far-reaching holding of art, craft, and design that illustrates imaginative approaches to transforming materials.

David Revere McFadden
David Revere McFadden
McFadden plans to pursue independent curatorial and writing projects, beginning in 2014, such as Inspired, opening in spring 2014 at MAD. Inspired will explore the origins of the artistic impulse, bringing together more than 100 new, recent, and never-before-seen works acquired since MAD’s move to its home at Columbus Circle five years ago.

McFadden joined the Museum in 1997 as Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collections. During his tenure at MAD, McFadden spearheaded the “Materials and Process” exhibition series—including such exhibitions as Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting (2007), Pricked: Extreme Embroidery (2008), Slash: Paper Under the Knife (2009), Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities (2011), and Swept Away: Ashes, Dust, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design (2012)—which explored the renewed use of traditional and unexpected materials and techniques in contemporary art and design. Also in this series was Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary (2008), which inaugurated MAD’s new home at Columbus Circle and broke all attendance records for the institution. Another “Materials and Process” exhibition Dead or Alive: Nature Becomes Art (2010), co-curated with MAD’s Charles Bronfman International Curator Lowery Stokes-Sims, was awarded Best Architecture and Design Show by the United States branch of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA) in March 2011.

Among the more than 120 exhibitions curated by McFadden at MAD and other institutions have been significant surveys in the world of art, craft, and design including: L’Art de Vivre: Decorative Arts and Design in France 1789-1989, a comprehensive survey of French creativity organized in celebration of the bicentennial of the French Republic; Wine: Celebration and Ceremony, which studied the social and material culture of wine throughout history; Hair, a landmark exploration of the visual and design history of human hair; Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation, co-curated by Ellen Napiura Taubman, a three-part exhibition series showcasing innovative and non-traditional work by native artists (2002, 2005, and 2012).

In his tenure at MAD, McFadden helped grow the permanent collection, which encompasses traditional forms of craftsmanship as well as works of art and design created with innovative new materials and processes, such as digital media and cutting-edge design technologies. Highlights from the collection include: one of the most important collections of art jewelry in the country, with notable holdings of early studio work by Arthur Smith and Margaret de Patta; design objects by internationally recognized leaders in the field, including Paul Cocksedge, Hella Jongerius, Nendo, and Marcel Wanders; works by leading artists in American sculptural ceramics, including Robert Arneson, Ruth Duckworth, Peter Voulkos, and Betty Woodman; and wood and furniture by legendary designers such as Wharton Esherick and George Nakashima, and by a new generation of artists working in wood.

For his work in cultural affairs, McFadden has been named Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland (1984); Knight Commander of the Order of the Polar Star of Sweden by King Gustaf VI (1988); and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France (1989). Three of McFadden’s exhibition projects and/or catalogues were awarded the Presidential Design Award for Excellence (1994, 1995, and 1997).