|Robert Storr is an American curator, art critic, academic and painter.|
|The Arts Arena ||
Deemed “one of the most influential Americans in the art world” by New York Magazine, he has been Senior Curator at MoMA, the only American-born Commissioner of the Venice Biennale, and since 2006, Dean of the Yale School of Art. Widely published in numerous languages, he is recognized globally as a speaker, scholar, and curator who plays a significant role on the international art stage.
Born in Portland, Maine in 1949, Storr early on developed strong and ongoing connections with France. From 1967-68, after graduating high school in the U.S., he attended lycée in Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small town in the Massif Central that became known as a center for the pacifist resistance during the war. There, he not only learned French, but also French politics; the revolutionary atmosphere of the time led him to become, in his own words, an activist. Storr has described this introduction to France as both “a great, great immersion training in language” and “a formative experience” (1). As an undergraduate student at Swarthmore College, he studied French and Russian history as well as French literature, earning a B.A. in History and French in 1972. In 1978, he earned his M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (he is, to this day, an active painter).
A true Francophile, Storr returns to France as often as possible. Currently a member of the boards of the Fondation Cartier and of the Arts Arena, he is also a regular contributor to art press, the French art magazine founded by Catherine Millet, and lectures frequently in France. At the Arts Arena, he has delivered the Yale Arts Arena Lecture annually on John Cage and the Visual Arts, A Tale of Two Jefferies—Koons and Deutsch, Louise Bourgeois, Gerhard Richter, Ad Rhinehart, and Tatiana Trouvé. At the Cartier Fondation, he recently spoke in conjunction with a major exhibition of work by Bruce Nauman, for which he co-authored the catalogue with Joan Simon.
Robert Storr has also been instrumental in presenting French artists to American audiences and has invited artists such as Daniel Buren, Annette Messager, Sophie Calle, and Tatiana Trouvé for workshops at the Yale School of Art. A major focus of his scholarly work, as well as a close personal friend, was the late artist Louise Bourgeois. It was Storr’s English-French bilingualism that opened the door to this major French artist who had chosen New York as her home, and years later would lead him to be involved in the placement of Louise Bourgeois’s “spider” in Paris’s Tuileries Garden. In 2015, the Monacelli Press is scheduled to release Storr’s major new work on Bourgeois, Intimate Geometries: The Art and Life of Louise Bourgeois.
Storr’s career in the professional art world started late but was almost immediately meteoric. He was Curator in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Painting and Sculpture from 1990 until 2002, where he organized major exhibitions on Gerhard Richter, Max Beckmann, Robert Ryman, Tony Smith and Elizabeth Murray, and from 1900-2000 coordinated Projects, a series of exhibitions devoted to contemporary artists. In 2002, he was named the first Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University; three years later, he was appointed Consulting Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The range of prestigious schools at which he has taught includes the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, the New York Studio School, and Harvard University. He has been called a “vital link between the museum world and academia” (2).
As a writer and critic, in addition to art press, Storr has been a contributing editor at Art in America since 1981 and writes regularly for Frieze, Artforum, and Parkett. His list of major published works includes monographs on Philip Guston, Chuck Close, Robert Mangold, Gerhard Richter, Louise Bourgeois, Elizabeth Murray, and Robert Indiana.
Storr also works actively with organizations such as FAPE (Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies), a nonprofit organization that places permanent installations of work by American artists in U.S. embassy buildings, where he is Chair of the Professional Fine Arts Committee, and the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR), where he serves on the Advisory Board.
Storr's exceptional work has been recognized by numerous grants and awards. Among them are a Penny McCall Foundation Grant for Painting, a Norton Family Foundation Curator Grant, honorary doctorates from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where he earned his M.F.A.) and the Maine College of Art, the American Chapter of the International Association of Art Critics AICA award for Distinguished Contribution to the Field of Art Criticism, the ICI Agnes Gund Curatorial Award, and the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History from the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art. In 2000, the French Ministry of Culture named him Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and later promoted him to the rank of Officier.
Storr is also very much a painter in his own right, a trained artist who clearly understands the importance of studio practice, and in recent years he has spoken of turning his attention back to his own work. It might be said that his experience as a working artist has played a key role in his success as a curator, writer, and educator—an art-world “Renaissance Man”. In 2007, New York Magazine put it succinctly: “[Storr] is an artist who’s logged enough studio time to have a special regard for painters’ painters like Elizabeth Murray and Philip Guston—and a gifted writer who can make us appreciate them, too.(3)”