Dia Art Foundation Names Jessica Morgan Director



Tate Modern curator Jessica Morgan will take the reins at New York’s Dia Art Foundation. Replacing Philipe Vergne, who departed in January to head the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Morgan takes up her new post in January 2015.

Morgan has served as a curator at Tate London since 2002, and became curator of international art at Tate Modern in 2012. Among the shows she has organized are retrospectives devoted to Gabriel Orozco (2011), John Baldessari (2009) and Martin Kippenberger (2006). She curated Turbine Hall commissions from Tino Sehgal (2012), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2008-09) and Carsten Höller (2006-07). She has also strengthened the museum’s holdings in contemporary work from North America, the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

Morgan is director of the 10th Gwangju Biennale, “Burning Down the House,” which opened Sept. 5. (The biennale foundation has been in the news over the controversial removal from an ancillary exhibition of an artwork critical of South Korea’s president.)

Morgan previously served as chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; prior to that she was curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

The new director takes over at an institution that has seen financial and real estate troubles in recent years.

Dia has been without a home in New York City since 2004, when it sold its building on West 22nd Street. Since then, the museum has had exhibitions solely at its 240,000-square-foot Dia:Beacon facility-which currently hosts a Carl Andre retrospective-though public programming including lectures has continued at a small facility on West 22nd Street. In 2012, Dia announced that it would build a new home on three adjacent lots on the same block. The museum had announced that construction would begin in spring of this year; it has not commenced, nor is a timeline in place, according to a representative.

Dia was at the center of controversy last year, when it announced that it would sell artworks by John Chamberlain, Alfred Jensen, Barnett Newman and Cy Twombly at Sotheby’s New York in order to establish an acquisitions fund. The decision drew fire from Paul Winkler, brother of Dia co-founder Helen Winkler, who called the sale “an outrage” in an open letter. Heiner Friedrich and Fariha de Menil Friedrich, who established Dia in 1974, filed suit in state court in November to stop Dia from selling artwork, but the Nov. 13 sale went ahead; 12 works at the evening sale garnered $38.4 million.