Jennifer Blessing Appointed First Curator of Photography

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(NEW YORK, NY, June 27) – Lisa Dennison, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, announced today the appointment of Jennifer Blessing as the Guggenheim’s first Curator of Photography. In the newly created position, Ms. Blessing will be responsible for organizing special exhibitions and developing the museum’s growing photography collection.


“As one of the leading experts redefining the field of photography, Jennifer Blessing is perfectly suited to assume this new role,” said Ms. Dennison. “With her appointment the Guggenheim will continue to expand its already significant holdings in photography, focusing on contemporary artists who work more conceptually with photography, as well as the more traditional interpretations of the medium.”


Ms. Blessing joined the staff of the Guggenheim in 1989 as a Project Assistant Curator. During her tenure at the museum she has organized photo-based exhibitions including the currently touring shows Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection and Family Pictures: Contemporary Photographs and Videos from the Collection of the Guggenheim Museum. The catalogue for her 1997 exhibition Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography won several awards. Most recently, she was a co-organizer of Marina Abramović’s highly acclaimed performance series Seven Easy Pieces, which was presented at the Guggenheim in New York in November 2005. Currently, Ms. Blessing is working on several exhibitions for the Guggenheim’s network of museums, including one on the work of photographer Catherine Opie for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and a commission of work by Jeff Wall for the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin in 2007.


In addition to the exhibitions cited above, Ms. Blessing contributed to Marc Chagall and the Jewish Theater, Guggenheim Museum SoHo (1992); The Italian Metamorphosis, 1943–1968, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1994); and Premises: Invested Spaces in Visual Arts, Architecture, and Design from France, 1958–1998, Guggenheim Museum SoHo (1998), among others.


In addition to her curatorial work, Ms. Blessing publishes and lectures extensively on art and cultural practices involving photographic representation, including subjects ranging from the work of Surrealist writer Claude Cahun to paparazzi. She has published a number of articles on body artist Gina Pane, whose work is the subject of her forthcoming doctoral dissertation. Ms. Blessing’s contributions can be found in Veronica’s Revenge: Current Perspectives in Contemporary Photography/The Lambert Photography Collection (Scalo, 1998); Art/Fashion (Skira, 1997); and Modernism, Gender, and Culture (Garland, 1997), among others. Her most recent publications appear in Allegorie II: Video (NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft, 2005) and Robert Mapplethorpe and the Classical Tradition (Guggenheim Museum, 2004).

Ms. Blessing received her A.B. with Honors from Brown University, and an M.A. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she is a Ph.D. candidate.

The Photography Collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation’s gift of 200 of Mapplethorpe’s finest photographs and unique objects to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1992 was the catalyst for the museum’s efforts to build a critically important collection of contemporary photographs and photo-based works.

The Mapplethorpe Foundation’s donation was followed by another major gift in 2001 from the Bohen Foundation, a private charitable organization that commissions new works of art with an emphasis on film, video, and new media. Bohen gave the Guggenheim its entire holdings of 277 works by 46 artists, including important photographs by Sophie Calle, Tim Davis, Glenn Ligon, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Jane and Louise Wilson, among others. The museum has a very active Photography Committee, whose recent acquisitions include work by Slater Bradley, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Carlos Garaicoa, Nan Goldin, Sarah Anne Johnson, Louise Lawler, Catherine Opie, Collier Schorr, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Andy Warhol. In 2002, the museum mounted the exhibition Moving Pictures, which filled the entire New York museum with photo-based and video works, as a testament to the depth and breadth of the collection.

June 27, 2006

Betsy Ennis
Director of Public Affairs
Telephone: 212/423-3840


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