Walter Hopps Named Adjunct Senior Curator

Walter Hopps Named Adjunct Senior Curator


First Exhibition in New Capacity Will Be James Rosenquist Retrospective in Fall 2002

NEW YORK, NY, March 12, 2001—Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Ned Rifkin, Director of The Menil Collection and Foundation, announced today the appointment of Walter Hopps as Adjunct Senior Curator of Twentieth-Century Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In addition to assuming the new Guggenheim position, Hopps will retain his post as Curator of Twentieth-Century Art at The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, where he was Founding Director.

"Walter is among the preeminent curators of his generation," said Krens. "Over the years he has organized a wide range of groundbreaking exhibitions that have redefined how we look at art of the modern era. We are delighted that he has joined our curatorial team."

"It is fitting that Walter receive this recognition and opportunity," said Ned Rifkin. "He has been a giant among his peers in the arena of modern and contemporary curators."

The first exhibition Hopps will organize in his new capacity at the Guggenheim is a full-career retrospective of the American artist James Rosenquist. The exhibition is scheduled to open at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Fall 2002 before traveling to The Menil Collection and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as well as to several other venues in the U.S. and in Europe, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Krens stated, "Walter's formidable understanding of American postwar art and his tremendous appreciation of Jim's work makes him exceptionally well suited to this project. The exhibition will show definitively that Rosenquist's art is on a par with the best of his fellow Pop artists and has continued at an extraordinarily high level to the present day."

Hopps began his engagement with contemporary art as a student in the late 1940s, and in 1957 he opened the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, along with the artist Edward Kienholz. Initially the gallery showcased the work of California artists, but in the early 60s expanded to include East Coast artists as well. Hopps showed work by the leading Abstract Expressionists, as well as by the emerging Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Hopps was named curator and then director of the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum). During his tenure, milestone exhibitions included the first retrospective of the work of Marcel Duchamp; Frank Stella's first museum exhibition; and "The New Painting of Common Objects," a 1962 exhibition that signaled the rise of American Pop Art.

From 1967 to 1972, Hopps was director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Hopps also served as the United States Commissioner of two Biennales: the São Paulo Bienal in 1965 and the Venice Biennale in 1972. From 1972 to 1979 he was curator of 20th-Century American Art at the National Collection of Fine Arts (now the National Museum of American Art), a branch of the Smithsonian Institution, also in Washington. Among his most important exhibitions there was the mid-career retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg, mounted in honor of the American bicentennial in 1976.

Hopps joined The Menil Foundation in 1980 and became the Founding Director of the museum in 1987. In 1991, Hopps was the subject of a lengthy profile by Calvin Tomkins in The New Yorker magazine. Also in that year, he organized Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s, for The Menil Collection; the exhibition traveled to the Guggenheim Museum SoHo in 1992. In 1996, Hopps organized an Edward Kienholz retrospective for the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1997, Hopps organized an acclaimed full-career survey of Rauschenberg's work at the Guggenheim Museum. The exhibition traveled to several museums in the U.S. and Europe, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Earlier this year, the De Menil Foundation established the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement, a $25,000 prize bestowed biennially by an international jury of museum curators and directors to a curator for outstanding work on exhibitions and publications.

Regarding his new appointment at the Guggenheim, Hopps stated: "I am extremely pleased to continue my affiliation with the Guggenheim. It is an extraordinary opportunity to work with what is the most exciting modern museum today."

March 20, 2001

For Press Information: Betsy Ennis
Department of Public Affairs
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Telephone: (212) 423-3840
Telefax: (212) 423-3787

Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.