PRINT February 1996


IN CALVIN TOMKINS’ 1991 NEW YORKER PROFILE “A Touch for the Now,” curator Walter Hopps comes across as an eccentric maverick. We learn of his preferred schedule (his workday begins not long before sundown and stretches into the morning hours) and near-mythic disappearing acts (his elusiveness prompted employees at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he served as director in the ’70s, to make buttons reading “WALTER HOPPS WILL BE HERE IN 20 MINUTES”). It was his relentless perfectionism, however—preparators will recall the habitual groan “Wrong, wrong, wrong” that greeted their best efforts—that cemented the impression of the curator as a mercurial iconoclast. Indeed, while Hopps’ legendary nonconformity may overshadow his curatorial accomplishment, his independence is not unrelated to his achievement. In a 40-year career spent in and out of the museum world, during which he

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