Lynne Cooke named a modern art curator at National Gallery

Lynne Cooke, a noted art scholar who for the past two years has been a professor at the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, has been named senior curator of special projects in modern art for the NGA, effective next month.

In her work with the gallery, Cooke has been researching and organizing an exhibition about the relationship between mainstream and self-taught artists in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries. The dates of the exhibition, which will also be presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, have not been announced.

The NGA’s “high reputation and scholarship in the curatorial department is really renowned,” the Australian-born Cooke said. “This project on the relationship between the self-taught and professional artist is one project that I’m very interested in realizing here. Then, as I talk with other colleagues in modern department, I’m sure other projects will evolve very quickly.”

Before her NGA work, Cooke was deputy director and chief curator at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid. She was a longtime curator at the Dia Art Foundation, a New York-based multidisciplinary contemporary art organization, and was artistic director of the 10th Biennale of Sydney in the mid-1990s. She has worked as a curator and educator at a number of national and international organizations, museums and academic institutions, including Yale University, the Malmo Art Academy in Sweden, Bard College and La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

“I bring some of that background of having worked in Europe and having looked at the contemporary art world from another perspective,” Cooke said. “The National Gallery has such a wide purview on culture, past and present, that it is open to ideas of many different kinds. So I’m curious to test out what some of these borders might be, or ways some issues in contemporary art might be addressed here.”


Lynne Cooke, Senior Curator, Special Projects in Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington. (National Gallery of Art)

Highlights of Cooke’s exhibitions include last year’s “Cristina Iglesias: A Place of Reflection” at Casa França-Brasil in Rio de Janeiro. From 2012-2013, “Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos,” which featured 30 years of Trockel’s artwork juxtaposed with artifacts from different eras and cultures, was presented in Madrid, New York and London. “Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977,” a year-long exhibition of the German abstract artist, showed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Dia: Beacon in Beacon, N.Y., and Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

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