Zoe Leonard, Christopher Wool, and Other Artists Decry the Chinati Foundation’s Decision to Part Ways With a Prominent Advisor
Rob Weiner originally joined the foundation as Donald Judd's assistant 32 years ago.
The Chinati Foundation board has opted not to renew the contract of longtime employee Rob Weiner, a former assistant to Donald Judd, triggering a wave of outrage among those with ties to the smallTexas town of Marfa.
More than 100 prominent art-world figures signed a letter, published in the Big Bend Sentinel, decrying the foundation’s decision, including artists Larry Bell, Jeff Elrod, Roni Horn, Robert Irwin, Zoe Leonard, Charline von Heyl, and Christopher Wool, as well as poet Eileen Myles and actor Wallace Shawn.
“Rob’s knowledge and experience are an irreplaceable and valuable resource,” and his dismissal “reveals a lack of foresight for the institution,” the letter reads.
Chinati’s director emeritus, Marianne Stockebrand, Judd’s final partner, who led the institution from his death until 2010, also signed the missive.
Judd opened the non-profit Chinati Foundation in 1986. Weiner became the artist’s assistant a few years later and continued on as an associate director at the museum following Judd’s death, in 1994.
The Chinati Foundation did not respond to inquiries from Artnet News. Weiner declined to comment.
The letter to the Sentinel claims that Weiner’s “dismissal came as the result of a breakdown in relations with the directorship over several years, during which time Rob’s responsibilities were significantly curtailed.” The current director, Jenny Moore, took the helm in 2013.
Tensions between Weiner and the organization appear to have been strained for some time. Four years ago, Weiner announced his resignation, but the board asked him to stay on. Since then, the board has negotiated a change in Weiner’s employment, transitioning his position from a leadership role to an “independent senior advisor” who would work with its advisory committee, reports Glasstire. The idea was to review the arrangement on an annual basis, and in March, both sides agreed that it was not working.
“Despite our best efforts, we were not able to find a path that worked for Rob and Chinati. And so the board made the difficult but unanimous decision to advise Rob that we intend to end our consulting arrangement,” wrote the foundation board of trustees in a letter to the Sentinel. The board added that it “recognizes the importance and value of Rob Weiner’s central role in the history and development of the Chinati Foundation.”
UPDATE, 4/9/2021: “We’re open and will continue to seek ways that we can work with Rob and get his input into the foundation, its mission, and curatorial matters,” Chinati’s board chair, Mack Fowler, told Artnet News. “This isn’t some excommunication. This is just seeking a better way to work together.”
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