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Trio of curators to guide next Carnegie International

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By William Loeffler
Friday, Sept. 24, 2010

Putting three curators in charge of the next Carnegie International could represent a strategy shift for the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Friday, the museum announced the appointment of curator Daniel Baumann and assistant curators Tina Kukielski and Dan Byers. The trio will collaborate on the vision and artist roster for the 56th Carnegie International, which is set to open in October 2013.

It's the first time that three curators will organize the prestigious exhibition, which is held every three or four years and draws critics, collectors and aficionados from around the world.

The appointment of Baumann suggests that the Carnegie wants the next International to be more adventurous. One of his most notable exhibitions was a show on self-taught Swiss artist and mental patient Adolf Wolfli at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Wolfli, who died in 1930, produced his drawings and paintings while he was confined to an psychiatric facility.

The previous Carnegie International opened in May 2008. "Life on Mars: The 55th Carnegie International," drew more visitors than expected to the museum, but received some lukewarm reviews.

Roberta Smith, writing for The New York Times, described the exhibition as predictable and safe. "It seems selected largely from a pre-approved list of veterans of shows just like this," she wrote in a review dated May 9, 2008.

A review in the Los Angeles Times said the exhibition's out-of-this-world theme was undercut by the preponderance of mainstream artists.

Is the Carnegie's move from one to three curators a way to widen the art search and vision for the next international•

Byers, a permanent Carnegie employee and associate curator of contemporary art, did not see "Life On Mars." But she says she doesn't see critical reaction of the previous international influencing the next exhibition.

"It's not a reaction against that," Byers said. "Shows can get a good or bad review no matter how many people organize it."

Kukielski was senior curatorial assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, where she curated such exhibitions as "Sara VanDerBeek: To Think of Time" and "Omer Fast: Nostalgia."

"I think the fact that I haven't seen previous internationals could be an asset," Kukielski said. "I anticipate I'll have the opportunity along with my colleagues to respond to the city, the museum and its amazing collection, and its people."

"Life on Mars" drew more than 380,000 visitors, exceeding attendance projections by nearly 31,000. It probably benefited from the opening of the second phase of "Dinosaurs in their Time" at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Those who bought a ticket for one show could also see the other.



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