11 Facts About Kirk Varnedoe


John Kirk Train Varnedoe was an American art historian, the Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art from 1988 to 2001, Professor of the History of Art at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and Professor of Fine Arts at the New York University Institute of Fine Arts.


Kirk Varnedoe studied at St Andrew's School and Williams College, where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Society.


Kirk Varnedoe played college football and, after graduating, returned to work as a coaching assistant and to lead art history discussion sections for a year.


Kirk Varnedoe married the artist Elyn Zimmerman, taught art history at Stanford for a year, then taught at Columbia University and at New York University Institute of Fine Arts.


Kirk Varnedoe curated or co-curated a number of major exhibitions at MoMA during his tenure, some which were considered highly controversial.


Kirk Varnedoe was highly regarded as a public speaker and lectured frequently; among his most notable lecture series were the Slade Lectures at Oxford and the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.


Kirk Varnedoe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993.


Kirk Varnedoe's departure came, according to his wife and to Adam Gopnik, after a period of difficult relations with the museum's new director, Glenn Lowry.


Kirk Varnedoe then became a scholar-in-residence at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies until his death two years later.


Kirk Varnedoe died of cancer in 2003 at the age of fifty-seven.


Kirk Varnedoe acknowledged the gulf between those who revered the School of New York and those who embraced the un-painterly successors to Mark Rothko and Morris Louis, those artists who seemed to represent a repudiation of Abstract Expressionism.