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Christopher Y. Lew. Photo: Whitney Museum of American Art.
Christopher Y. Lew. Photo: Whitney Museum of American Art.

Curator Christopher Y. Lew Exits the Whitney

Christopher Y. Lew is leaving New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, where he has served for nearly seven years as Nancy and Fred Poses Associate Curator, Artnews reports. During his tenure there, Lew was known for mounting career-elevating exhibitions of young vanguard artists, including Sophia Al-Maria, Kevin Beasley, Rachel Rose, and Salman Toor. Though he mainly focused on emerging artists, he occasionally curated shows by established pathbreaking artists, most recently William Pope.L. No explanation has been offered for his departure by either the institution or Lew, who told colleagues in an email that he was “moving on to positions at a new nonprofit and startup,” additionally noting, “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.”

Lew came to the Whitney in 2014 as an associate curator, departing as an assistant curator of New York’s MoMA PS1, in Queens, where he had worked since 2006. With Mia Locks, he organized the 2017 Whitney Biennial, which sparked conversation and controversy with works including rafa esparza’s adobe rotunda made of bricks comprising hay, mud, and horse dung; Deana Lawson’s arresting portraits of young Black men in street and domestic settings; and Dana Schutz’s lightning-rod painting of Emmett Till in his open casket. Locks departed for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 2019; she left that institution earlier this year, citing the organization’s resistance to diversity initiatives.