Andy Grundberg and The Art of Curation

The Hillyer is an intimate gallery hidden down one of DuPont’s bustling streets. On Monday, November 12, Andy Grundberg was the featured curator in this month’s Curator Lecture Series. In an open room of the gallery with paintings surrounding the audience, Grundberg spoke about a wide range of topics related to art and his career. Although it was not a one-on-one conversation, it was a comfortable and casual atmosphere in which it was acceptable for the audience to ask any question that crossed the mind. 

            Andy Grundberg is a curator and professor at the Corcoran School of Art. His lecture focused on photography as a fine art. Soon it became clear why he is such a well-respected curator. Not only is he well educated about the arts, he is passionate about them. Grundberg spoke with precision and elegance describing the significance and value of photography in the fine art world. He stated, “Photography is swimming in the same pond as contemporary art.” Keeping the talk personable and relatable, he also added in many details about the history of photography becoming a fine art. He mentioned Andy Warhol’s use of photography in screens in paintings and how that was when they first entered the realm of fine art in the 1960’s. This was an arena in which someone with a degree in fine arts or art history could learn so much, but also someone who had little to no background in the arts would be able to comprehend and enjoy Grundberg’s lecture.

During the talk he discussed not only his career path but also specific artists whose exhibits he has been the curator of. One of the most famous photographers he has worked with is Anne Leibovitz. He graciously discussed what an honor he thought working with a living artist was, and admits that it was one of his first goals as a curator. Although what he did not expect was the challenges that living artist pose when setting up an exhibit, this he comments on with a chuckle, and state this helped him improve his compromising skills.

            As he proceeds on with the lecture, a slide show of exhibits he was the curator for is playing. Occasionally he’ll stop to admire some of the work and tell a story. One of Leibovitz landscapes crosses the screen and he drifts into a story about the dark beauty of her photography and how she views things in a transcendentalist manner. At one part while discussing Leibovitz landscapes, he stops and looked up at the audience and said, “the beauty of the outside world is perceived in different ways, therefore each artist can bring something different to a photo.” His passion translates to the audience, encouraging us to look closer at a picture. After an hour that went by surprisingly quickly, Grundberg thanked the audience and the presentation comes to a close.  

Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Abigail