Marcia Tucker (April 11, 1940 to October 17, 2006) was the founding director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art from 1977 to 1999, a museum located in New York City dedicated to innovative art and artistic practice. There, she organized such major exhibitions as The Time of Our Lives (1999), A Labor of Love (1996), and Bad Girls (1994), and was co-curator of a retrospective exhibition by the Catalan artist Perejaume at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona in 1999. She was the series editor of Documentary Sources in Contemporary Art, five books of theory and criticism published by the New Museum. From 1999 to 2006 she worked as a free-lance art critic, writer, and lecturer. Recent faculty appointments had been at Cornell University, Colgate University, and The Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies. Most recently she was a Critic in Residence in the Fine Arts Department and Graduate Studies: Fine Arts at Otis College of Art and Design from 2005-2006 while living in Santa Barbara, California.
In a 1998 lecture, Ms. Tucker said the museum, “like a handful of other contemporary art venues in the United States, is a ‘laboratory’ organization not only by virtue of the kind of work we show, but because we try to look critically at museum practice, especially our own, questioning our own premises and methods regularly.” (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 16, 1998; “The Contemporary Art Museum as a Site of Innovation and Resistance”).
Ms. Tucker was Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1969 to 1977, where she organized major exhibitions of the work of Bruce Nauman, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Richard Tuttle, among others. In 1984 she was chosen as the U.S. Commissioner for the 41st Venice Biennale. She received the Skowhegan Governors Award for Lifetime Service to the Arts (1988), was the 1999 recipient of the Bard College Award for Curatorial Achievement, and the Art Table Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts in 2000. She was also awarded three Yaddo fellowships in 2003, ’04, and ’05.
She wrote for the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Art in America, Art Forum, and ARTnews, among others. Her memoir, A Short Life of Trouble, which describes a vital period in American art from the mid-1960s on, including friendships and encounters with such artists as Marcel Duchamp, James Rosenquist, Lee Krasner, Andy Warhol, Joan Mitchell, and Bruce Nauman, will be released in October, 2008 by University of California Press.