THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART announced the promotion of Adrienne Edwards today, she has been named director of curatorial affairs.

For the past three years, Edwards has served as the Engell Speyer Curator and Curator of Performance at the Whitney.

In her new role as Engell Speyer Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, Edwards will join the leadership ranks of the museum, participating in museum-wide strategic planning and working closely with Chief Curator Scott Rothkopf overseeing the curatorial department, while continuing to direct the Whitney’s performance program.

She begins her new position July 1.

“Adrienne is one of the great visionaries in our field who truly understands both artists and institutions,” Rothkopf said in a statement.

“She has already made a transformative impact on the Whitney, and now will not only helm our performance program but will also bring her deep knowledge, innovative practice, and collaborative spirit to the Whitney’s leadership team.”


“Adrienne is one of the great visionaries in our field who truly understands both artists and institutions.” — Chief Curator Scott Rothkopf

A curator, scholar, and writer, Edwards joined the Whitney in 2018 and took charge of the museum’s performance program, which she has expanded and taken in new directions. During her tenure, she has curated “Jason Moran” (2019-20), the first solo museum exhibition of Jason Moran, the jazz pianist, composer, and performance artist who “grounds his practice in the composition of jazz, bridging the visual and performing arts through spellbinding stagecraft.” She also organized “Moved by the Motion: Sudden Rise” (2019) with multidisciplinary artist Wu Tsang, boychild, and Fred Moten.

Upcoming projects include “Dave McKenzie: The Story I Tell Myself” the artist’s first solo museum exhibition, which is accompanied by a commissioned performance series (May). Edwards is part of the team working on “Day’s End,” the public art project from David Hammons in Hudson River Park, also expected to debut in May. A 20-year survey of “My Barbarian,” the collective of Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade, opens this fall. She is also co-curating the 2022 Whitney Biennial with curator David Breslin, director of curatorial initiatives at the Whitney.

Prior to the Whitney, Edwards served as curator at Performa in New York, where for the better part of a decade (2010-18) she organized groundbreaking live programming, film screenings, and symposiums, and commissioned innovative works by artists from around the world. As curator-at-large at the Walker Art Center (2016-18), she co-led the Mellon Foundation Interdisciplinary Initiative, a multi-year effort focused on new models for working at the intersection of visual and performing arts.

Edwards curated “Blackness in Abstraction” at Pace Gallery New York in 2016. In 2018, she served as curator of the new Artist Award and Live Programs at Frieze New York in Randall’s Island Park. She has taught art history and visual studies at New York University and The New School, and lectured and published widely.

At the Whitney, Edwards is succeeding Emily Russell, who served as director of curatorial affairs for 16 years. She said she is up for the challenge.

“I am very much looking forward to taking on this new, more institutional role, and deepening and expanding my involvement in the Whitney’s artistic program at a moment when so many dynamic projects are underway and forthcoming,” Edwards said in a statement.

“I’m thrilled to continue working with my colleagues on the curatorial team in this larger capacity, and collaborating to advance their individual and our collective ideas, voices, and perspectives, and those of the artists.”” CT


IMAGE: Curator Adrienne Edwards. | Photo by Bryan Derballa


READ MORE about Adrienne Edwards’s “Blackness in Abstraction” exhibition on Culture Type

READ MORE about the Whitney Museum’s recent challenges in the face of public objection to its board membership and acquisition practices


Adrienne Edwards edited the exhibition catalog “Jason Moran” and co-authored the fully illustrated volume “Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series” with Sarah Lewis. Edwards has also co-authored and contributed to numerous others, including “Ellen Gallagher: Accidental Records,” which accompanied a show at Hauser & Wirth gallery, “Adam Pendleton (Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series),” and “Adam Pendleton: Black Dada Reader.” “member: Pope.L, 1978–2001” accompanied the Museum of Modern Art show. “Rodney McMillian: History is Present Tense” and Ralph Lemon: Modern Dance,” are critical volumes in the practice of each artist. “Blackness in Abstraction” documents the group exhibition Edwards organized at Pace Gallery in New York. Meanwhile, the exhibition catalog “My Barbarians” is forthcoming in November 2021.


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