Photo: Jarred Gastreich.
Photo: Jarred Gastreich.

Free, Talk

2015 Susan Sherman Annual Distinguished Speaker: Franklin Sirmans

CAM is delighted to welcome renowned curator Franklin Sirmans as its 2015 Susan Sherman Distinguished Speaker. The artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans, Sirmans is the Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He will discuss his curatorial practice as well as conceiving and organizing Prospect.3.

The Susan Sherman Annual Distinguished Speaker Series is designed to bring scholarship and art commentary of the highest caliber to St. Louis. Past speakers have included Thelma Golden, Michael Kimmelman, Maya Lin, Glenn Lowry, and Jerry Saltz. Sirmans is well known for his interest in reaching beyond traditional visual art parameters into music, performance, and popular culture. He has worked as an independent curator, writer, and editor and often organizes exhibitions that celebrate both universality and individuality from the vantage points of spirituality, multicultural experiences, and even soccer. CAM executive director Lisa Melandri calls Sirmans “a consummate curator, who has led our thinking about what artists and movements are salient to contemporary society.” She adds, “His ability to work with artists from all over the world and to present the most incisive views into contemporary creative endeavors provides a truly unique perspective.”

Prospect.3 Notes for Now, which ran from October 25, 2014, to January 25, 2015, was the third Prospect New Orleans biennial. As artistic director of the three-month exhibition, Sirmans showcased the work of 58 leading and emerging contemporary artists from around the globe in 18 locations throughout New Orleans. The biennial attracted tens of thousands of visitors, and many of its artists participated in a myriad of educational and public programs. A fully illustrated catalog, featuring documentation and essays on the exhibition, was also produced.

At LACMA, Sirmans has organized Fútbol: The Beautiful GameColor and FormRobert TherrienEnds and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation, and co-organized the exhibition Human Nature:Contemporary Art from the Collection. He has also organized the museum’spresentations of Blinky Palermo: Retrospective, 1964–1977Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals, and Glenn Ligon: America. Sirmans’s exhibition Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting is on view until March 22, 2015. He is currently co-curating the retrospective Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada (June 7–September 27, 2015).

From 2006 to 2010, Sirmans was the curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection in Houston, where he organized exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten FaithMaurizio Cattelan: Is There Life before DeathSteve Wolfe: On Paper, and Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–66. Sirmans was the 2007 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize, awarded by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Prior to 2006, Sirmans held editorial positions at Dia Center for the Arts, Flash Art Magazine, and ArtAsiaPacific. He has written extensively for catalogs in addition to articles and reviews in publications such as the New York TimesTime Out New YorkEssenceParkett, and Grand Street. Sirmans has also lectured at colleges, universities, and numerous art institutions. Born in New York City, he was raised in Harlem, Albany, and New Rochelle, New York. Sirmans received a BA in art history and English from Wesleyan University.

About Prospect New Orleans
Prospect New Orleans was conceived in the tradition of the great international exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale and the Bienal de São Paulo, to showcase new artistic practices from around the world in settings that are both historic and culturally exceptional, and contribute to the cultural economy of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gulf region. Prospect New Orleans invites leading contemporary artists from around the globe to exhibit at venues that include major cultural institutions as well as non-arts venues, and public spaces.

About the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Since its inception in 1965, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, inaddition to representing Los Angeles’s uniquely diverse population. Today LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection that includes over 120,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, encompassing the geographic world and nearly the entire history of art.