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Statement on the Resignation of Gary Garrels

Released: July 11, 2020 ·

From SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra:

Today, the Board of Trustees and I have accepted the resignation of Gary Garrels, the Elise S. Haas Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture. His last day will be July 31, 2020.

There are few curators over the course of SFMOMA’s 85-year history who have made as profound a contribution to the museum and our community as Gary Garrels. Over the course of two separate appointments at the museum, first from 1993-2000 and more recently from 2008 until now, Gary has proven to be an exceptionally gifted curator, renowned for his work with living artists ranging from early museum shows by Glenn Ligon, Doris Salcedo and Kara Walker, to definitive retrospectives of the work of Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner and Sol Lewitt and other ground-breaking exhibitions including Willem de Kooning: The Late Paintings, the 1980s; Inside Out: New Chinese Art; and Celebrating Modern Art: The Anderson Collection.

Gary is to be especially acknowledged for his passionate collection development, with a particular emphasis on broad diversification and expanded narratives. Most recently, with the deaccession and sale last year of a Mark Rothko painting, Gary took the lead in a concentrated effort to broadly diversify the collection. Works acquired include major paintings and sculptures by Rebecca Belmore, Frank Bowling, Lygia Clark, Jeffrey Gibson, Sam Gilliam, Luchita Hurtado, Norman Lewis, Alma Thomas, Mickalene Thomas and many others that have already transformed SFMOMA’s galleries and expanded the stories we can tell.

I cannot thank Gary enough for his exceptional work on behalf of SFMOMA, and wish him the absolute best in his next chapter.

Sarah Roberts, Andrew W. Mellon Curator and Head of Painting and Sculpture will assume full responsibility for the department in an interim capacity.