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Hammer Museum appoints new curators

February 26, 2009 |  6:13 pm

Douglas_fogle_11_5 The Hammer Museum, an institution with a broad historical reach that has transformed itself into a hot spot for contemporary art, will get an infusion of fresh curatorial blood in two top positions.

Douglas Fogle, the curator of contemporary art at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh who organized last year's "Carnegie International," has been appointed chief curator and deputy director of exhibitions and public programs at the Westwood institution. Anne Ellegood, a contemporary art specialist at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., has been named the Hammer's senior curator. Both will begin their work in Los Angeles in May. (UPDATE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated Ellegood's title as chief curator.)

"This is good news for Los Angeles," said Hammer director Ann Philbin. "They are two of the most talented curators working in contemporary art today and they are excited about the city. Both of them have a lot of connections here. They know they want to be here and why." In addition to their experience with exhibitions, she said, "they have serious knowledge of, and engagement with, collection building. That was important to me. We are committed to developing and refining the collection even through this economic hardship.  We are going to be buying art. "   

Fogle, 44, succeeds Gary Garrels, who left last fall for a position at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The new chief curator grew up in Chicago and was educated at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and UC Santa Cruz. He was a curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 11 years before moving to the Carnegie in 2005. As overseer of the Hammer's curatorial and education departments, he will play a leading role in exhibitions and other public programs, collection development and the artist residency program.

Fogle said that accepting the Hammer's offer was "kind of a no-brainer." Carnegie curators typically move on after completing the four-year process of organizing and presenting an international exhibition, he said. "I talked to a few people about other situations, but I kept coming back to Los Angeles in my head and my heart. It is my favorite art city and there seems to be a lot of energy around the Hammer. What I love about the institution is its relationship with artists and its public programs, the ideas that are generated by the place and that it fosters and nurtures."

Anne_ellegood_preferred_image_mg__2Ellegood, 42, will move into the position formerly occupied by James Elaine, now an adjunct curator. A native of Portland, Ore., Ellegood prepared for her career at Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. She was a curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York for five years and served as collector Peter Norton's New York curator before joining the staff at the Hirshhorn, where she has developed many exhibitions since 2005. At the Hammer, she will organize large shows and take charge of "Hammer Projects," a series of installations and exhibitions by emerging artists.

Los Angeles, she said, is "a great place to be right now. It seems to be a very supportive environment for artists who really flourish there." Like her work with the Hirshhorn's "Directions" series, "Hammer Projects" will keep her closely in touch with new art. "There are 12 projects a year," she said. "I love the idea of being that responsive to artists and exhibitions. To do so allows you to work with emerging artists in an ongoing, committed way that I don't think many museums can do. That's something the Hammer is really recognized for. I think it is one of the most exciting museums in the country."

Fogle and Ellegood will join a team that includes Cindy Burlingham, deputy director of collections and director of the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts; curators Ali Subotnick and Allegra Pesenti; Jessica Hough, director of exhibitions and publications; and adjunct curators Elaine and Russell Ferguson.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

Images: Douglas Fogle, top. Credit: Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art. Anne Ellegood, bottom. Credit: Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.