The Institute Of Contemporary Art Appoints A Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner Will Fill The Postion On A Part-time Basis. She Succeeds Judith Tannenbaum.

Posted: December 25, 2000

When Claudia Gould, director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, began to look for a curator to succeed Judith Tannenbaum, who left the ICA last spring, she thought first of Ingrid Schaffner, a New York writer and independent curator with a number of exhibitions to her credit.

However, Gould said, Shaffner didn't want to become involved with an institution full time, so she initially declined the offer to come to Philadelphia.

When Gould's subsequent search for a full-time curator proved unproductive, she returned to Shaffner and suggested a part-time affiliation, an arrangement that suited her better.

And so the organizer of "Deep Storage," an examination of issues involving collecting and archiving, which was seen in Germany and America, has signed on with the ICA as senior adjunct curator, a half-time appointment.

Schaffner said she would develop two exhibitions a year for the ICA, one initiated by her and one by the museum. "I'll also be helping to shape exhibition plans and educational programming," she said.

Schaffner's past relationship with the ICA includes lectures in conjunction with the Eileen Neff and Marlene Dumas exhibitions and a catalog essay for the Jeanne Silverthorne exhibition.

Her main interests are surrealism, collecting and photography. Several years ago, she curated an exhibition at the Equitable Gallery, New York, about Julien Levy, the New York art dealer who presented the first exhibition of surrealist art in America, in 1932.

She was also one of the curators for "Pop Surrealism" at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut last year.

"My work often comes from revisiting something in history through what I'm seeing in contemporary art," Shaffner said. This approach allows her to "make a story come alive again through contemporary eyes."

An example of Schaffner's work will open at the Fabric Workshop and Museum Jan. 26. She and Melissa Feldman, a former ICA curator, have organized an exhibition of current art called "Secret Victorians," which reexamines the repressed energy and taste for excessive ornamentation of the Victorian period.

Schaffner said her first ICA show would be one for postminimalist Richard Tuttle a year from now. A traveling show that she organized, "Pictures, Patents, Monkeys, and More," which will open Jan. 31 in Seattle, will come to the ICA in the fall of 2002.

It looks at the collecting impulse in America as embodied in fine art, the public record and popular culture.

With director Gould also functioning as a curator, the ICA now has two staff members organizing exhibitions. Now that the organization has adequate support staff, Gould said, she would be inviting guest curators to do shows.

Schaffner, 39, is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. She was a Helena Rubenstein curatorial fellow in the independent-study program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Besides her curatorial work, she has written extensively on 20th-century art for exhibition catalogs and coedits a quarterly publication called Pink. She has contributed titles on Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Frida Kahlo to the series of art books called The Essentials published by Harry N. Abrams.

Edward J. Sozanski's e-mail address is esozanski@phillynews.com

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