William R. Olander |
(July 14, 1950 - March 18, 1989) USA
William R. Olander, born in Virginia, Minnesota, he attended Northwestern University, where he studied with Jack Burnham, and received a Ph.D. in art history from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts in 1983. His dissertation, Pour Transmettre À La Postérité: French Painting and Revolution, 1774-1795 , was guided by the noted art historian Robert Rosenblum.
After internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Toledo Museum of Art, Olander was appointed curator of modern art at the Allen Memorial Museum at Oberlin College; he held that position from 1979 to 1984, and served as the museum's acting director in his last two years there.
On January 1, 1985, he became curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and met Christopher Cox, with whom he became lover, in the spring of 1986. In addition to organizing exhibitions at both museums during his years there, Olander served as a guest curator, juror, or catalogue essayist for shows in many other venues.
He wrote, as well, numerous exhibition and book reviews, and presented papers at academic institutions and conferences on the topics of French painting, new media, photography, and postmodern theory. Particularly interested the work of women and other marginalized artists, Olander often incorporated social and political statements, performance art, video, film, and photography into his exhibition programs.
William Olander is probably best remembered for his activist work within the art world, particularly for his invitation to the collectivist organization ACT UP/NY (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, New York) to fill the main show window of the New Museum's building at 583 Broadway.
Unveiled on November 20, 1987, the landmark installation is known as "Let the Record Show..." after Olander's statement in the accompanying brochure: "Let the record show that there are many in the community of art and artists who chose not to be silent in the 1980s." The display incorporated a bold neon sign stating "SILENCE = DEATH," which brought the group's slogan to a wider public awareness.
Olander was senior curator at the New Museum when he died from AIDS-related complications.