Vanessa Davidson named curator of Latin American art at the Blanton Museum of Art

Vanessa Davidson, the newly appointed Latin American curator at the Blanton Museum of Art.
Vanessa Davidson, the newly appointed Latin American curator at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Vanessa Davidson of the Phoenix Art Museum has been named the new curator of Latin American art at the Blanton Museum of Art.

Her appointment at the Blanton is effective immediately. Davidson has been Latin American curator at the Phoenix institution for the eight years. She has also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. She received a doctorate in Latin American Art History with a minor in Spanish Colonial Art from New York University and a B.A. in Hispano-American Literature from Harvard University.

Davidson replaces Beverly Adams who left the Blanton to take the position of Estellita Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

“We are delighted to name Vanessa Davidson the new curator of Latin American art at the Blanton,” said Blanton director Simone Wicha. “A leading curator in the field, Vanessa brings a broad view of Latin American art histories, as well as an excellent record of exhibitions, scholarship, and publications to the Blanton. Building from the museum’s enduring leadership in the field, as curator of Latin American art Vanessa will continue to explore underexamined narratives, create dialogues between past and present, and shape the global conversation around art from Latin America.”

During her tenure in Phoenix Art Museum, Davidson curated 13 exhibitions, including two that traveled internationally, as well as a number of landmark exhibitions that advanced global dialogue and furthered contemporary scholarship.

In 2013 Davidson curated “Order, Chaos, and the Space Between: Contemporary Latin American Art from the Diane and Bruce Halle Collection,” which featured ground-breaking works from contemporary artists in the internationally-renowned Halle Collection. And in 2016, Davidson curated “Horacio Zabala: Mapping the Monochrome,” a career survey of the Argentine artist’s work.

Davidson organized a pair of exhibitions of contemporary work from Brazilian artists during the 2017-18 arts season: “Past/Future/Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo,” and “Valeska Soares: Any Moment Now.”

“I am thrilled to join the Blanton’s unparalleled program and dynamic team as curator of Latin American art,” said Davidson. “I look forward to the opportunity to curate and develop the museum’s collection, to collaborate with its Latin American curatorial team, and to engage with the extensive UT Austin community of professors, scholars, and students to further understandings of Latin American art. My aim is to continue to participate in international dialogues about what art from this region is and can be, and also to involve more young scholars in such global conversations.”

The Blanton was the first museum in the US to have a curatorial position dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American art. Its collection of Latin American art, which began in 1963, has grown to include 2,800 objects from Latin America, with modern and contemporary painting, prints, drawing, conceptual art, installation, video, and sculpture. Lately the Blanton has been growing its collection of art from the Spanish Americas. This year, the museum announced the endowment of a curatorial position by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation as well as acquisition of the Huber Collection in that area.

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Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is an arts and culture journalist who has covered visual art, performance, film, literature, architecture, and just about any combination thereof. She was the staff arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman for 17 years. Her commendations include the First Place Arts & Culture Criticism Award from the Society for Features Journalism. Additionally, Jeanne Claire has been awarded professional fellowships at USC’s Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and NEA/Columbia University Arts Journalism Institute. In 2022, she was awarded the Rabkin Prize in visual art journalism. Jeanne Claire founded and led Sightlines, a non-profit online arts and culture magazine that reached an annual readership of 600,000. And for two years, she taught arts journalism at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Architecture magazine, Dwell, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Art Papers, and ICON design magazine, among other publications.

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