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Marcia Tucker

Marcia Tucker

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Marcia Tucker

Roles in Archive: New Museum Board Member, New Museum Curator, Staff Member, Artist, Author, Editor, Moderator, Nm Director, Organizer, Panelist, Participant, Performer, Speaker

Marcia Tucker (1940–2006) was founder and director (1977–99) of the New Museum, established in 1977 as an institution devoted exclusively to the art and ideas of our time. As director of the New Museum, Tucker organized major exhibitions such as “Bad” Painting (1978), Choices: Making an Art of Everyday Life (1986), Bad Girls (1994), A Labor of Love (1996), and The Time of Our Lives (1999), as well as important solo exhibitions by Alfred Jensen (1978), Barry Le Va (1978), John Baldessari (1981), Pat Steir (1987), and Markus Raetz (1988), among others. Abroad, she organized The 1970s: New American Painting for the United States International Communications Agency, an exhibition that toured Eastern and Western Europe in 1980. She was chosen as United States commissioner for the forty-first Venice Biennale, Paradise Lost / Paradise Regained: American Visions of the New Decade (1984). Tucker’s famous motto, “Act first, think later—that way you’ll have something to think about,” is a testament to her experimental yet rigorous approach to art, exhibitions, and institutions.

Prior to founding the New Museum, Tucker was curator of painting and sculpture from 1968 to 1977 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she organized exhibitions such as Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials (1969) and solo shows for Nancy Graves (1969), Al Loving (1969), Lee Krasner (1973), Bruce Nauman (1973), Joan Mitchell (1974), Al Held (1974), Richard Tuttle (1975), Betye Saar (1975), and many others. She was the series editor of Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art, comprising five books of theory and criticism copublished by the New Museum and MIT Press: Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984); Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writings by Contemporary Artists (1987); Discourses: Conversations in Postmodern Art and Culture (1990); Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (1990); and Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (1999). 

Tucker was a trustee of the Association of Art Museum Directors and a member since January 1986. She received an MA in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and taught at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCS) at Bard College, the City University of New York, Otis College of Art and Design, the School of Visual Arts, the University of Rhode Island, and elsewhere. She wrote for ARTnews, Artforum, and Art in America and lectured and published widely in the United States and abroad. She was awarded the CCS Bard Award for Curatorial Excellence in 1999 and the ArtTable Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts in 2000.