University of Rochester President Joel Seligman and Memorial Art Gallery Board of Managers Chair Jim Durfee announced on Monday, July 7, 2014, that Jonathan Binstock has been named the Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director of the MAG. Binstock comes to Rochester from New York City, where he was a senior vice president and senior advisor in modern and contemporary art for Citi Private Bank’s Art Advisory & Finance group. He brings more than a decade of curatorial work in major American museums.
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“I am thrilled that Jonathan has accepted this role that is so important to our Gallery, the University, and the Rochester community,” said Seligman. “He brings a wealth of experience in major art museums, exceptional expertise, and a vision and enthusiasm for engaging art lovers and learners of all ages.”
“Dr. Binstock has the full support of our Board of Managers,” said Durfee. “Jonathan comes to us with a unique set of experiences in the art world. He has an enthusiasm for everything MAG has accomplished over the years and is looking forward to leading us into our next chapter.”
Binstock becomes the Gallery’s seventh director and succeeds Grant Holcomb, who retired on July 1 after nearly 29 years in the position.
“The Memorial Art Gallery is a gem of a museum and one of the University of Rochester’s and the region’s greatest treasures,” said Binstock. “I am absolutely thrilled to be leading this institution into its next exciting chapter. There is so much to build on, from MAG’s extraordinary collection to the good will it receives from its devoted staff, volunteers, and Board leadership. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Rochester community and enjoying its high quality of life.”
An expert in post-World War II art, Binstock joined Citi in 2007 as senior vice president and specialist in modern and contemporary art, working with clients and their families in the U.S. and abroad to build personal art collections. He also worked with Citi’s art finance program, ensuring the quality of artworks and assessing their value.
From 2000 to 2007, he was curator of contemporary art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and before that was assistant curator at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. His many exhibitions include the 47th (2002) and 48th (2005) Corcoran Biennials; Sam Gilliam: A Retrospective (2005); Atomic Time: Pure Science and Seduction (2003), which featured art by Jim Sanborn; and Andy Warhol: Social Observer (2000). His most recent curatorial project, Dan Steinhilber: Marlin Underground, was on view at The Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2012.
“Jonathan’s vision and breadth of experience make him a perfect fit,” said Provost Peter Lennie. “I’m very much looking forward to working with him on initiatives that will further strengthen the MAG.”
“Jonathan brings to this position an excellent academic background in art history, and years of experience at major museums such as the Smithsonian, Corcoran and Pennsylvania Academy of Art,” said MAG Board President Mary Koegel. “His most recent position at Citi Private Bank enhanced his knowledge of both the domestic and international art world. He is creative, collaborative and has a deep passion for art which make him the perfect leader for this institution as we begin our next 100 years.”
“Jonathan’s intellect, passion for art and entrepreneurial spirit are the traits that set him apart from other candidates,” said MAG Board Member Theresa Mazzullo.“His keen insight in recognizing the correlation between science and creativity will be the basis for building on and leveraging the MAG’s relationship with the University. With Jonathan as director, the MAG is well positioned for a strong and viable future.”
Binstock is a board member of the American Federation of Arts, and a scholarly consultant for the Visual Arts Gallery of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He also serves as a peer reviewer for the U.S. General Services Administration’s Percent-for-Art in Architecture Program, and served for a decade on the President’s Council for the Higher Achievement Program in Washington, D.C., an after-school educational mentoring organization.
He has written about artists as varied as Jeremy Blake, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Bruce Nauman, Pepón Osorio, Sean Scully, Mark Tansey, Wayne Thiebaud, Alma Thomas and Richard Tuttle. His forthcoming publication is Meleko Mokgosi (Los Angeles, CA: Hammer Museum, UCLA, 2014).
Binstock has taught art history at the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, from which he holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in art history. He received his undergraduate degree in art history and psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.
The director search committee consisted of: Durfee (committee chair), Peter Brown, Kathy D’Amanda, Todd Green, Charlotte Herrera, Koegel, Lennie, Mazzullo, Ron Paprocki and Joan Saab.