Sep 27, 2017


Kathy Halbreich

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation announced today the appointment of Kathy Halbreich as Executive Director. Read the New York Times coverage of this announcement here.

Official press release:

Halbreich, who currently serves as Associate Director of The Museum of Modern Art, is a visionary in keeping with Robert Rauschenberg’s spirit. She brings to the Foundation more than 30 years of experience leading cultural institutions, a fundamental belief in the power of artists to catalyze social change, and a deep commitment to the role artist foundations can play in expanding opportunities for cultural conversation. The appointment is effective November 1, 2017.

“My father’s work was bold, rigorously and relentlessly experimental, and engaged with cultures across the globe,” said Chris Rauschenberg, President of the Foundation. “Kathy embodies my father’s belief in art as transformational and we are thrilled that she will bring that devotion to the Rauschenberg Foundation.”

 “It’s an honor to have Kathy join us,” said Michael Straus, the Foundation’s Board Chair.  “She is a person of great strength and passion, held with global respect and admiration throughout the art world.  We are enthusiastically looking forward to her leadership of the Foundation as we advance Robert Rauschenberg’s artistic legacy together with his deeply democratic values and vision.”

“Robert Rauschenberg was an artist who fearlessly and inventively bent all the rules, and in doing so, gave singular permission to artists across a myriad of disciplines to chart new ways of defining what an artist is, of making art and of being in the world,” said Halbreich. “This aesthetic range mirrored his extraordinary generosity and collaborative spirit. I cannot imagine a more thrilling challenge than to work alongside the Foundation’s remarkable staff to build upon Bob’s own template in serving other artists and the public at large.”

For the past nine years, Halbreich has served as the Associate Director at The Museum of Modern Art, where she also was the lead curator of “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010,” organized with Tate Modern. This was the first major exhibition to include all of the media explored by Polke and was one of the largest shows ever organized at the Museum. Named the museum's inaugural Laurenz Foundation Curator in 2016, Halbreich currently leads the curatorial team for "Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts," a collaboration between MoMA and Schaulager, Basel. This retrospective, the first comprehensive one in more than 20 years, will be presented at The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 and Schaulager, where it will premier in March 2018 before opening in New York next fall. Halbreich will continue to oversee “Disappearing Acts”, in addition to her work at the Foundation, and will retain her position at the Museum as Laurenz Foundation Curator through the show’s New York opening. Halbreich also will hold the post at the Museum of Advisor to the Director during this time.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Kathy since she joined the Museum nearly 10 years ago,” said MoMA Director Glenn Lowry.  “She has been instrumental in the transformation of MoMA and MoMA PS1 – making them ever more vibrant places where people from all over the world can discover great art and great artists.  Kathy also has been a true partner and friend, and I am so happy that, in her new role with The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, she will have an extraordinary opportunity to build on her commitment to artists and their work.”

Prior to MoMA, Halbreich served for 16 years as Director of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN. Under her leadership, Walker diversified its visitor base, expanded its civic and international presence, and broadened its multidisciplinary programming in the visual, performing, and media arts. During her tenure as Director, Walker presented groundbreaking exhibitions featuring the work of Chantal Akerman, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Hélio Oiticica, and Kara Walker, as well as the exhibition “How Latitudes Become Form: Art in a Global Age.”  She also oversaw the expansion by Herzog & de Meuron, which included a theater and provided the Performing Arts Department with its first professional home.

An award-winning curator, Halbreich has been inducted into the American Association of Museums Centennial Honor Roll, received the Award for Curatorial Excellence from Bard College, and was named by France as a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in 1995. She also served as commissioner for North America and Cuba at the Gwangju Biennale (1995), was appointed curatorial advisor for the Carnegie International (1988) and is a member of the Documenta X and Documenta XIII International Committees. She is also a board member of the Doris Duke Foundation.

Since 1990, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has served as a cultural institution both extending the legacy of Robert Rauschenberg’s work and strengthening the field for artists who follow in his activist footsteps. The Foundation supports artists and creative thinkers from a diverse mix of disciplines, backgrounds, ages, and career levels, through a residency program at the artist’s home and studio in Captiva, Florida. The Foundation’s Artist as Activist program, provides game-changing resources to artists of all disciplines who address important global challenges through their creative practice. For the past two grant-making cycles the initiative has supported artists using their work to explore problems relating to mass incarceration in the United States. The Foundation’s SEED program provides financial support to innovative early-stage arts projects in cities across the United States.

The Foundation worked closely with MoMA to feature “Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends”. The first 21st-century retrospective of the artist, an exhibit which includes over 250 works across media from Rauschenberg’s six-decade career and celebrates his strong belief in artistic collaboration. In November, the exhibition will open at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where it will feature additional works for “Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules”, a retrospective dedicated to Rauschenberg’s life and lasting impact in subverting the conventional rules of art.

Kathy Halbreich's biography:

Kathy Halbreich joined The Museum of Modern Art in the newly created position of Associate Director in February 2008 and was named the first Laurenz Foundation Curator in March 2016. Halbreich focuses on curatorial and strategic issues designed to amplify contemporary programs and initiatives at MoMA and PS1, both locally and globally. In 2014, she was the lead curator of “Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010,” organized with Tate Modern. This was the first major exhibition to include all of the mediums explored by Polke and was one of the largest shows ever organized at MoMA.  Halbreich currently heads the curatorial team for “Bruce Nauman: Disappearing Acts,” an upcoming retrospective, co-organized with Schaulager, where it will premiere in March 2018 before opening at MoMA in the fall. 

Prior to joining the Museum, Halbreich served as director of the Walker Art Center for 16 years. During her tenure, the Walker diversified its visitor base, extended its civic and international presence, and broadened its multidisciplinary programming in the visual, performing, and media arts. Under Halbreich’s leadership, the Walker presented many groundbreaking exhibitions, such as those devoted to the artists Chantal Akerman, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Hélio Oiticica, and Kara Walker, as well as How Latitudes Become Form: Art in a Global Age, which was the result of a three-year partnership with a Global Advisory Committee. Beginning in 1985, Halbreich also organized the exhibition Against Nature: Contemporary Art in Japan, with partners in Japan and the United States.

Inducted into the American Association of Museums Centennial Honor Roll, a recipient of the Award for Curatorial Excellence from Bard College, and named a Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters, Halbreich has served as commissioner for North America and Cuba at the Gwangju Biennale (1995) and curatorial advisor for the Carnegie International as well as a member of the Documenta X and Documenta XIII International Committees. She is a board member of the Doris Duke Foundation.