Constance Lewallen, a longtime curator at California’s Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive who repeatedly advocated for the significance of Conceptual artwork within the Bay Area artwork scene, has died.
“Connie was a treasured curator, colleague, and friend who will be dearly missed,” the museum wrote in an obituary posted to Instagram on Tuesday.
Beginning within the Eighties, Lewallen was identified for her exacting reveals that repositioned the historical past of Conceptual artwork of the Sixties and ’70s in order that it was not so New York–centric. She has been credited with serving to to introduce figures like Stephen Kaltenbach, Paul Kos, Suzanne Lacy, and Lynn Hershman Leeson, all of whom have been at one level lesser identified, to the canon.
Lewallen spent greater than three many years on the workers on the BAMPFA, between 1980 and 2007, finally leaving as its senior curator of exhibitions. According to the museum, she curated greater than 100 reveals in that point. She remained on as a senior curator emerita following her retirement.
Among her most celebrated reveals, co-organized with Karen Moss, is 2011’s “State of Mind New California Art circa 1970,” which appeared at BAMPFA and the Orange County Museum of Art. Staged as a part of that 12 months’s Getty Foundation–funded Pacific Standard Time initiative, it sought to shine a lightweight on the under-studied historical past of Californian Conceptual artwork. It later traveled to the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York.
The artists included within the present, who ran the gamut from John Baldessari to Asco, made some extent of making work that resisted any type of aesthetic pleasure, usually counting on pictures, textual content, and different much less conventional mediums to visualise the invisible. “As the show demonstrates, these West Coast impulses were way ahead of their time,” Glen Helfand wrote in his Artforum overview.
Prior to organizing that present, Lewallen was already well-known to many within the Bay Area scene for her masterful solo survey reveals. One of them, a 2001 present at BAMPFA about Theresa Hak Kyung Cha that counted as her first-ever retrospective, landed its topic in artwork historical past altogether. Another, a 2007 present of Bruce Nauman’s work through the Sixties, stays formative for students.
Other reveals by Lewallen included surveys for Paul Kos, Jay DeFeo, and Joe Brainard. Prior to her passing, she was at work on a present about Fluxus that can be staged at BAMPFA in July.
Born in 1939, Constance Lewallen was a transplant from New York. She moved to L.A. in 1972 and by no means returned to town from which she got here. In New York, she labored at Bykert Gallery, a cutting-edge house related to Minimalists and Post-Minimalists who went on to realize fame, and her position there put her in touch with artists corresponding to Michael Snow and Vito Acconci.
In a 2016 Artforum interview, she traced her curiosity in Californian Conceptual artwork again to 1980, the 12 months she wrote a chronology for a San Francisco Museum of Modern Art present about that outgrowth of the motion centered particularly on the ’70s.
“It turned out to be such an extremely fertile period. It was also a moment of innocence; I think people respond to this work because it’s not about commercialism, it’s not about money, it’s not about fame,” she stated. “It’s for artists to address their friends or each other, and there’s something so wonderful about that that’s really lost now.”
After leaving BAMPFA, Lewallen continued to deal with writing, serving as an editor-at-large on the Brooklyn Rail and penning a e-book on artist David Ireland’s home, which has been became a San Francisco artwork house that’s now often known as 500 Capp Street.
“Her in-depth knowledge of art history, her love for the community, generosity of spirit, loyalty of friendship, and above all her beautiful and radiant smile will never leave us indeed,” the Brooklyn Rail wrote on Instagram.