Curator spearheading the Met’s contemporary and modern department
The opening of the Met’s new Breuer branch in March – spearheaded by Wagstaff, the Met’s chairman of the department of modern and contemporary art since 2012 – has, as a Financial Times writer put it, given ‘a slow-moving institution an entrée into the world of investor/collectors, young artists, unconsummated trends, blowout biennials and feverish prices’. Yet Wagstaff maintains the move is no big deal, telling the FT, ‘We’re going back to our original mission.’ Roberta Smith, in The New York Times, wasn’t so sure. The critic praised the opening exhibition of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi, and the modern works in the group show Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible, but noted that the contemporary-art ‘learning curve seems steeper than expected’. With six years at the Breuer, however, before completion of a permanent home for the department in the Met’s Fifth Avenue extension, the institution, under the guidance of Wagstaff, a former chief curator at Tate, will undoubtedly find its stride.