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Getty Research Institute acquires LACMA curator’s papers

Maurice Tuchman

Maurice Tuchman and Henry Hopkins during the installation of “American Sculpture of the Sixties” at LACMA in 1967.

(Photographer unknown)

Maurice Tuchman, the first full-time curator of modern art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, has donated his papers to the Getty Research Institute, the GRI is expected to announce Thursday.

Tuchman held the LACMA position from 1964 to 1994 and was responsible for mounting pioneering shows and projects, including the lauded Art and Technology program, which championed emerging light and space artists such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell and paired artists with Southern California technology companies from 1966 to 1971.

Other significant Tuchman exhibitions include “The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985"  and “Outsider/Insider: A History of Visionary Art and Modernism.”

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“I am quite honored that my papers are joining those of esteemed colleagues such as Harald Szeemann, Barbara Rose, Lawrence Alloway and Henry Hopkins, all of whom I have had the pleasure to work with,” read a statement from Tuchman. “It is fantastic that the Getty Research Institute is taking steps to ensure that future scholars will be able to access the legacy of the ‘60s and ‘70s.”

Tuchman’s archive consists of his papers spanning 1950 to 2000. They include correspondence, press clippings, photos, audiovisual recordings, personal papers and appointment books. Artists such as Edward Kienholz, Claes Oldenberg, Jasper Johns and R.B. Kitaj appear frequently in this trove.

Also included in the papers are rare artist publications, including Ilya Kabakov’s “Red Wagon” and the New York artists magazine Avalanche.

“Maurice Tuchman is a standout figure in the recent history of modern art in Los Angeles and beyond, and his influence is unquestionably evident to this day,” said Thomas W. Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, which has amassed records and research related to American postwar art, particularly the Los Angeles art scene in the late 20th century.

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Tuchman was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and raised in the Bronx. He attended City University in New York as an undergraduate and received a PhD in art history from Columbia University, where his fellow students included artist Donald Judd, art critic Barbara Rose and former Museum of Modern Art painting and sculpture department director William Rubin.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1964 to begin his work at LACMA.

Tuchman was praised for the 1981 exhibition “Art in Los Angeles: Seventeen Artists in the Sixties.” The show resulted in some controversy when Tuchman was accused of sexism regarding his artist selections.

His imprint on the museum can be seen most vividly in the permanent collection he helped to establish and in the notable curators he brought on, including Jane Livingston, Stephanie Barron, Howard Fox and Carol Eliel.

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