April 23, 2024


Arts Fanatics

Constance Lewallen (1939–2022) – Artforum International


Curator Constance Lewallen, who expanded the canon of what was considered Conceptual art and introduced the do the job of West Coastline artists to countrywide consideration, died in late April at the age of eighty-two. For the duration of her just about 3-decade tenure as a curator at California’s Berkeley Artwork Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), she arranged a lot more than just one hundred exhibitions, introducing audiences to the work of Stephen Kaltenbach, Paul Kos, Suzanne Lacy, and Lynn Hershman Leeson, among other people, at a time when these artists ended up not greatly recognised.

Born in 1939 in New York, Lewallen gained her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College or university in 1961 and and her master’s from San Diego Point out University in 1970. Following shelling out two decades as assistant director at the Bykert Gallery in her hometown, which at the time was displaying get the job done by then up-and-coming Minimalists and publish-Minimalists Vito Acconci and Michael Snow, Lewallen moved to Los Angeles in 1972, operating at numerous galleries there about the ensuing 8 many years with artists linked with CalArts, including John Baldessari, Jack Goldstein, and Douglas Huebler. In 1980, she wrote a chronology accompanying a San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Artwork display about the blossoming of the California Conceptual artwork motion in the 1970s, which she would later forged as a pivotal encounter. “People often think Conceptual artwork is drily intellectual,” she instructed Artforum’s Claudia La Rocco in 2016. “That can be true, but it can also be humorous—and stunning and emotional.”

Just after transferring to the Bay Region in 1980, she was hired as a team curator at BAMPFA, the place she turned acknowledged for her beautifully arranged solitary-artist surveys, between them a pathbreaking 2001 retrospective of the work of Korean American artist Theresa Hak Kyung Cha a extensively lauded 2007 Bruce Nauman exhibition featuring the artist’s work of the 1960s and exhibitions of work by Joe Brainerd, Jay DeFeo, and Paul Kos. In 2011, as part of the then fledgling Pacific Standard Time initiative, she cocurated with Karen Moss “State of Intellect: New California Artwork Circa 1970” at  BAMPFA and the Orange County Museum of Art. The exhibit, which centered on the hitherto-dismissed historical past of Californian Conceptual art, traveled to the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York.

Lewallen retired from BAMPFA in 2007, remaining senior curator emerita there. While she by no means returned to New York to stay, she served as editor-at-large at the Brooklyn Rail and wrote a ebook about artist David Ireland’s San Francisco house, which is now the art room 500 Capp Road. At the time of her death, she was doing the job on the exhibition “Fluxus Reverb: Situations, Scores, Containers & A lot more,” which opens at BAMPFA this July.

Lewallen remained a tireless champion of Conceptual artwork, which she considered experienced a remarkable influence on do the job that is staying produced these days. “At the time, lots of people believed it was an endgame: ‘Where do you go from right here?,’” she explained to Artforum. “But it turned out to be this kind of an very fertile interval. It was also a instant of innocence I feel men and women answer to this work for the reason that it’s not about commercialism, it is not about funds, it’s not about fame. It’s for artists to handle their good friends or every single other, and there’s a thing so wonderful about that that is seriously misplaced now.”

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