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"There's a lot of great modern and contemporary art at the Fogg," says Harry Cooper '81, Ph.D. '97, "but it has not always had an advocate because there hasn't been a curator devoted to it." Now there are two. Late last year Cooper himself came from the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., to be the Fogg Art Museum's first associate curator of modern art. He will be joined this fall by Linda Norden, formerly assistant professor in art history at Bard College, who will be the first Barbara Lee associate curator of contemporary art. The Fogg has established a department of modern and contemporary art to shelter them.
The distinctions between modern and contemporary art are chronological, with the latter variously defined as art by living artists or art done in the past 30 years. The Fogg's collection ranges from important pieces by Picasso and Matisse to works by Ellsworth Kelly and Kiki Smith. "Linda and I don't see a sharp division between our fields," says Cooper. "We expect to work together to create a little center for thinking about modern art, to return Harvard to the days when it was a center for contemporary art, which it was in the thirties."
Cooper's first large-scale installation will open in December and will comprise a group of American abstract paintings and sculpture by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Brice Marden, Jasper Johns, and others. He and Norden will present an Ellsworth Kelly exhibition next year.
Gallery space to house contemporary works, many of which are large, is scarce, but may soon be augmented. Cooper reports that the Sert Gallery at the top of the ramp of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, next door to the Fogg, may be remodeled for that purpose. Students who have used that space for studio work will go instead to the former University squash courts on Linden Street, where renovations should be complete by January. "White rooms," says Cooper, "make good studios."
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