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slant

curatorial returns to the academy

TAKEN BY ITSELF, last November’s announcement by Russell Ferguson, chief curator and deputy director of the Hammer Museum of the University of California, Los Angeles, that he was leaving his position after some five years at the institution to take the reins at UCLA’s Department of Art may seem not to warrant much comment. While the studio art program, one of the nation’s best, has traditionally been chaired by practicing artists, the transition promises by all accounts to be both smooth and organic, not signaling any immediate change in the overall program of either the museum or the school. (Indeed, the appointment cements an already strong relationship between the two entities, and Ferguson will retain an affiliation with the Hammer as an adjunct curator.) Paradoxically, however, the very unremarkableness of Ferguson’s move across campus is telling: Whereas the choice of a nonartist

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