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Henry Geldzahler
(July 9, 1935 - August 16, 1994) Belgium - U.S.A.

Henry Geldzahler

Curator, art historian, art critic


Henry Geldzahler, an early advocate of pop art, is the first curator of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1977 he became New York City commissioner of cultural affairs and the first openly gay commissioner in the city's history.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Geldzahler's Jewish family emigrated to the United States in 1940. He graduated from Yale University in 1957, where he was a member of Manuscript Society. In 1960, Geldzahler left graduate school at Harvard University to join the staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He became the Curator for American Art there, and later the first Curator for 20th Century Art.

He took a temporary leave from the Met to become the first director of the visual-arts program of the National Endowment for the Arts, where he initiated a program of museum grants for the purchase of art made by living American artists. From 1977 until 1982, he was the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City, having been appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch. As an openly gay man who was part of the Koch administration and the conservative Metropolitan Museum of Art, Geldzahler contributed significant time and effort into Aidsrelated causes.

After leaving his post for New York City, he continued to write on art, and acted as an independent curator, working at the alternative space P.S. 1 and the austere high modernist Dia Art Foundation.

Geldzhaler was the curator of the 1969 Metropolitan exhibition New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970 . In addition to authoring its catalog, Geldzhaler wrote American Painting in the 20th Century (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1965), Charles Bell: The Complete Works, 1970-1990 (Abrams, 1991), and Making It New: Essays, Interviews, and Talks (Harvest Books, 1996). He co-wrote Art in Transit: Subway Drawings by Keith Haring (1984), Andy Warhol: Portraits of the Seventies and Eighties (Thames and Hudson, 1993), and published many other works.

Geldzahler died of liver cancer at the age of 59.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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