Ex-Whitney Veteran Donna De Salvo Is Returning to the Dia Art Foundation as a Special Projects Curator

De Salvo left the Whitney Museum in June after organizing the recent smash Andy Warhol retrospective.

Donna De Salvo
Donna De Salvo. Photo: Scott Rudd.

Donna De Salvo, a veteran curator and former executive at the Whitney Museum, will take up a new post in January as senior adjunct curator for special projects at New York’s Dia Art Foundation. She is returning to an institution where she had worked as a curator in the 1980s, after which she was an adjunct curator at the Andy Warhol Museum, in Pittsburgh, and senior curator at Tate Modern, in London, before heading back to New York.

“The time I spent at Dia in the 1980s was a formative moment in my career, which shaped a lifelong interest in each of the artists they have collected in-depth over the years,” De Salvo said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to working with Jessica [Morgan, Dia’s director] and her team at this exciting transitional moment for Dia as they renew their dedication to this group of artists, while also expanding their vision to include underrepresented figures.”

A rendering of the future Dia:Chelsea location. Image courtesy of the Dia Art Foundation.

A rendering of the future Dia:Chelsea location. Image courtesy of the Dia Art Foundation.

“She comes with this immense gravitas,” Morgan told the New York Times. “She’s a hero to me.”

De Salvo takes on a manifold role, advising on exhibitions and long-term installations as well as the collection and archive. Dia is set to reopen its space in New York’s Chelsea in 2020, after building an expansion. Since 2003, the institution has shown major installations and exhibitions at its location in Beacon, New York, where a long-term installation by Sam Gilliam is on view.

Established in 1974, Dia is known for its significant holdings of American and European Minimal and conceptual art, as well as owning some of the largest existing Land Art works. Morgan, who took the reins in 2015 from Philippe Vergne, has worked to deepen the institution’s investment in women, mounting shows by artists including Dorothea Rockburne, Michelle Stuart, Anne Truitt, and Charlotte Posenenske. She’s also expanded the remit geographically, bringing in artists like Korean painter Lee Ufan and Japanese sculptor Kishio Suga.

De Salvo has held high-ranking positions at the Whitney for some 15 years, and left with a bang after curating the blockbuster exhibition “Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again,” now on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. Other major American artists who have gotten the De Salvo treatment include Lawrence Weiner, Roni Horn, and Michael Heizer.

In 2005, she organized the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale, devoted to Ed Ruscha, after which she was promoted to chief curator at the Whitney, then a newly created position, which she occupied for nearly a decade before ascending to the post of deputy director for international initiatives and senior curator, during which time she organized “America is Hard to See,” the inaugural show at the Whitney’s new downtown building.

De Salvo had helped “to set the foundations for the Whitney as it now exists,” said director Adam Weinberg upon her departure.


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