Gary Garrels is the Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a position he assumed in September 2008. Previous appointments include chief curator and deputy director of exhibitions and public programs, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2005-2008); Robert Lehman Foundation Chief Curator of Drawings and Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2000 - 2005); Elise S. Haas Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1993-2000); senior curator, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1991-1993); and director of programs, Dia Art Foundation, New York (1987-1991).
Garrels has organized numerous exhibitions throughout his career. He was co-curator of Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective presented at SFMOMA in October 2011. At the Hammer Museum he organized Oranges and Sardines: Conversations on Abstract Painting and Eden's Edge: Fifteen LA Artists. At The Museum of Modern Art, he organized Brice Marden: A Retrospective of Paintings and Drawings and Roth Time: A Dieter Roth Retrospective (with Schaulager, Basel, Switzerland). In his earlier tenure at SFMOMA, he organized Sol LeWitt: A Retrospective; Willem de Kooning: The Late Paintings, The 1980s; Inside Out: New Chinese Art (with the Asia Society, New York); and projects with Richard Hamilton, Glenn Ligon, Doris Salcedo, Kara Walker, and Andrea Zittel, among many other exhibitions and projects. At the Walker Art Center, he organized the acclaimed Photography in German Art: 1960 to the Present. At the Dia Art Foundation, he organized exhibitions with artists including Francesco Clemente, Katharina Fritsch, Robert Gober, Dan Graham, Jenny Holzer, Robert Ryman, Lawrence Weiner, and many others.