THE GETTY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (GRI) in Los Angeles announced a new hire today. LeRonn P. Brooks has been appointed associate curator for Modern and Contemporary Collections, specializing in African American art. Brooks is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies at Lehman College in The Bronx, New York.

At the Getty, he is taking on a newly created position that is part of the research institute‘s ambitious new African American Art History Initiative announced last September. Brooks is charged with building collections—sourcing original art historical documents and acquiring artist archives—and organizing programming related to African American art.

“LeRonn P. Brooks brings an informed, critical voice to the Getty Research Institute’s curatorial department and is a welcome addition to our scholarly community,” Mary Miller, director of GRI, said in the announcement.

“I am looking forward to working with him as he helps build collections for research on 20th-21st century American art history. His mandate—to help develop our research and resources on African American art history and connect them to our other collecting areas—is vitally important at the GRI and I’m certain he is the best person for the task.”

The African American Art History Initiative is designed to establish the Getty as a major center for collecting, studying, and disseminating African American art history. Encompassing a range of activities, GRI’s $5 million initiative supports graduate and post-graduate research fellowships, partnering with museums and universities on joint exhibitions and digitization projects, collaborating with expert scholars in the field, an oral history project, and collecting the archives of artists, scholars, curators, critics, collectors, and art dealers.

When the initiative was announced, the news included the acquisition of the expansive archives of Los Angeles artist Betye Saar, 92. The hope is that Saar’s decision will encourage other African American artists to house their papers at GRI.

“With the African American Art History Initiative, the Getty Research Institute is making a strong, long-term commitment to the field of African American art history and hiring a talented scholar to build and develop our collections and related programs is a major part of that effort,” said Andrew Perchuk, GRI deputy director. “LeRonn Brooks’s career has emphasized collaboration and interdisciplinary studies, an approach that we value as we work with partner institutions and living artists to promote advanced research in African American art history and, ultimately, a fuller and richer picture of American art.”

“LeRonn Brooks’s career has emphasized collaboration and interdisciplinary studies, an approach that we value as we work with partner institutions and living artists to promote advanced research in African American art history and, ultimately, a fuller and richer picture of American art.”
— Andrew Perchuk

Brooks teaches courses in art history and African and African American studies at Lehman College, part of the City University of New York system. He is a curator for The Racial Imaginary Institute, which was founded by author/poet Claudia Rankine, and the Bronx Council on the Arts. Last year, he helped present “On Whiteness,” The Racial Imaginary Institute exhibition and symposium at The Kitchen in New York City. He also organized the exhibition “Bronx: Africa,” a project with the Bronx Council, at Longwood Gallery at Hostos Community College in 2016.

His academic credentials include a Ph.D., in art history from the CUNY Graduate Center and a BFA from Hunter College. In addition, Brooks has been published in magazines such as the International Review of African American Art, Bomb, and Aperture, and catalogs for institutions including the Mississippi Museum of Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, and Studio Museum in Harlem. He has also conducted numerous panel discussions and public talks with artists.

The selection of Brooks comes after a lengthy search period. Getty posted the associate curator position nine months ago. He is the first full-time staff member hired under the initiative. GRI also plans to add a bibliographer to the team to focus on the research library’s collection.

“I have found it beneficial to use my scholarship, understanding of historical contexts and curatorial practice, to examine the intersections between representations of African-American visual cultures and society,” said Brooks, who starts at the Getty in June. “I look forward to working alongside amazing colleagues doing similarly important and timely work at the Getty.” CT

 

IMAGE: LeRonn P. Brooks. | Photo Kay Hickman, Courtesy The Getty

 

FIND MORE Last April, LeRonn P. Brooks gave a lecture about Sally Mann’s landscape photography at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

FIND MORE Brooks hosted Culture/Context, a series of conversations with creatives over two seasons from 2012-14. His first talk was with Greg Tate. He also spoke with artists Nari Ward, Clifford Owens, Sanford Biggers, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, and Mickalene Thomas

 

READ MORE about the Getty African American Art Initiative in interviews with GRI’s Andrew Perchuk and Getty Board Member Pamela Joyner on Culture Type

 

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