LACMA has a new chief curator of contemporary art: Franklin Sirmans

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Franklin Sirmans, a high-profile curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, has been appointed department head and curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He will assume his new position in January, succeeding Lynn Zelevansky, who recently resigned to direct the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

A native of New York and a 1991 graduate of Wesleyan University, Sirmans is known as a critic, editor and writer as well as a curator. He was an editor at Flash Art and Art AsiaPacific magazines and at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York before moving to Houston.


His curatorial credits include organizing “NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith,” an examination of spirituality in contemporary art that traveled from the Menil to P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York in 2008. He also co-curated “Basquiat,” a show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting, which appeared at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2005. In ‘Face Off,’ a recent exhibition drawn from the Menil’s permanent collection, Sirmans presented a wide variety of human faces in prints, sculptures and paintings.

At LACMA, Sirmans will oversee a department that focuses on works made since 1968. He is also expected to use his writing skills to strengthen the museum’s publication program.

-- Suzanne Muchnic