Tuesday March 12, 2019
Tags for: Emily Liebert Appointed Curator of Contemporary Art
  • Press Release

Emily Liebert Appointed Curator of Contemporary Art

exterior of the CMA building

Cleveland, OH (March 12, 2019)– The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) today announced the appointment of Emily Liebert as Curator of Contemporary Art, following an international search. Liebert, who is currently the CMA’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, will be tasked with further developing the museum’s contemporary art program, including planning exhibitions at the CMA and Transformer Station as well as displays of the permanent collection in the museum’s contemporary art galleries, and acquiring works of global contemporary art for the collection. Liebert will assume her augmented responsibilities at the CMA immediately.

“Emily has made an essential contribution to the museum since she joined the staff as Associate Curator of Contemporary Art in 2017. She is a terrific curator with a creative approach to making contemporary art accessible to a broad audience.  Emily brings an exciting and collaborative vision for collecting and exhibiting global contemporary art at the CMA, and she is already at work on a number of compelling future projects. We very much look forward to Emily’s leadership,” said Director William M. Griswold.    

The museum’s Department of Contemporary Art spans 1961 to the present, including painting, sculpture, and time-based media. Historic highlights in the collection include Andy Warhol’s Marilyn x 100 (1962), Agnes Martin’s The City (1966), Alice Neel’s Jackie Curtis and Ritta Redd (1970), Brice Marden’s Sea Painting I (1973-74), Robert Colescott’s Tea for Two (The Collector) (1980), and Martin Puryear’s Alien Huddle (1993-95). Art from the 21st century is represented by key works by artists such as Rachel Harrison, Jim Hodges, Pierre Huyghe, Gabriel Orozco, Sarah Sze, Fred Wilson, Kara Walker, Haegue Yang, and Annicka Yi. The department has recently devoted exhibitions to Raúl de Nieves, Albert Oehlen, Dana Schutz, and Kara Walker.  

“I am thrilled and honored to serve as Curator of Contemporary Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art,” said Liebert. “Since arriving, I have greatly enjoyed getting to know the museum’s collections and communities, while working with such talented colleagues. I am looking forward to continued collaborations across museum departments as we offer a contemporary program that reflects and carries forward in time the expansive histories gathered in our encyclopedic collection. Equally, it will be a pleasure to build on the work of my predecessors, deepening and diversifying the department’s collection, so that we can offer thoughtful narratives, from a contemporary perspective, of twentieth- and twenty-first century art. While the CMA is known worldwide, it belongs to Cleveland and is so much a part of this city. Through an integrated approach that combines curatorial and education as well as scholarly initiatives, I am excited to welcome the broadest possible audience to treat the museum as its resource for exploration and learning.”

During Liebert’s tenure at the CMA, she has made several important acquisitions, including Emma Amos’s Sandy and Her Husband (1973) and Jenny Holzer’s Laments: Death Came and He Looked Like… (1989). She curated the exhibition Raúl de Nieves: Fina, currently on view at the Transformer Station, and is organizing the museum’s first site-specific commission in the Ames Family Atrium, Emeka Ogboh’s Ámà: The Gathering Place, in collaboration with Smooth Nzewi, the CMA’s Curator of African Art (open on August 2, 2019). 

Before her appointment at the CMA, Liebert worked at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as curatorial assistant in connection with the major retrospective Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends (2017). Liebert’s essay for the catalogue, “’Looking Also Had to Happen in Time’: The Printed Trace,” explores the connections between Rauschenberg’s work in dance, photography, and printmaking. Related to this essay, she organized a dance program highlighting Rauschenberg’s collaborations with choreographers Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, and Paul Taylor.

Prior to joining MoMA, Liebert curated Multiple Occupancy: Eleanor Antin’s “Selves” (2013) which opened at Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. This exhibition was a finalist for an award by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) in the category “Best Monographic Museum Show in New York.” The catalogue for Multiple Occupancy, edited by Liebert, comprises new scholarship on Antin, with contributors including Huey Copeland, Malik Gaines, and Alexandro Segade. From 2003-2005, Liebert served as Coordinator for Education and Public Affairs at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas.

Liebert holds a BA from Yale University and a PhD from Columbia University; she was a Critical Studies Fellow in the Whitney Independent Study Program. At Columbia, Liebert taught in the Department of Art History and in its School of the Arts, where she also curated the MFA First Year Thesis show in 2017. Liebert’s art criticism has appeared in Artforum and Frieze.

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