Christopher Y. Lew, whose offbeat exhibitions of young up-and-comers have generated praise, will leave the Whitney Museum in New York after seven years there as curator.
In email sent to his colleagues and obtained by ARTnews, Lew said he is “moving on to positions at a new nonprofit and start up.” He continued, “It has been an absolute honor to work with such a talented museum staff and so many visionary artists during the first years of the Whitney’s new building.” Reached by ARTnews, Lew declined to comment further.
ARTnews has reached out to a Whitney spokesperson for comment.
Lew had been at the Whitney since 2014, when he left his post as an assistant curator at MoMA PS1. With Mia Locks, he organized the 2017 Whitney Biennial, which received attention for its unconventional offerings, among them photographs by Deana Lawson, an installation by rafa esparza, and a painting of Emmett Till’s open casket by Dana Schutz that became the subject of protests.
Beyond that biennial, Lew had also been in charge of exhibitions for emerging artists, many of whom went on to find even greater success after their shows at the Whitney. In 2015, when the Whitney opened its current Meatpacking District building, Lew organized a show for Rachel Rose, who exhibited a video that mimicked space travel by way of abstractions made through humble means. That presentation evinced the cutting-edge sensibility that has come to be associated with Lew’s shows.
Other exhibitions organized by Lew include a Sophia Al-Maria video focused on consumer culture in the Middle East, a Kevin Beasley show featuring a sculpture crafted with a motor from a cotton gin, and paintings by Salman Toor.