5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Maxwell Anderson

He's a song-and-dance man.

Maxwell Anderson, center, and friends.Photo via YouTube.
Maxwell Anderson, center, and friends.
Photo via YouTube.

The art world was taken by surprise yesterday to learn that four years into his tenure as director of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), Maxwell Anderson had abruptly left the job to become director of grant programs at the New York nonprofit New Cities Foundation.

Here are five other things that might surprise you about the longtime museum director, who had previously headed up major institutions including New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

1. He’s an actor and a song-and-dance man.
When the DMA had counted up the money from its April 2015 Art Ball fundraiser, it thanked its patrons in a special way: with a truly cringe-inducing version of Mark Ronson’s 2014 song Uptown Funk, whose video featured singer Bruno Mars in a pink suit jacket. In the DMA’s video, Anderson himself dons the rose-colored blazer, and things get, well, pretty uptown funky. A previous thank-you video, “Downtown Artsy,” riffed on Downton Abbey.

2. He’s a risk-taker.
As Anderson told the Wall Street Journal in 2002, when he was director at the Whitney, he thought of what the museum ought to be doing in unconventional terms, describing the institution as the “‘research and development’ arm of the art world, taking risks on new talent and circumventing critics and dealers to connect directly with artists and museumgoers. “We’re not there to reify the art market’s hunches,” he said. “We’re there to roll the dice on artists whom we believe in.”

Anderson and his wife, Jacqueline.<br>Photo Patrick McMullan.

Anderson and his wife, Jacqueline.
Photo Patrick McMullan.

3. He’s married. No, he’s single. Wait, he’s married.
Anderson married Jacqueline Buckingham, a former actress (As the World Turns, Half Baked, a Canadian production of Rent), in 1995, when he was director of the Art Gallery of Toronto, Ontario. When she accompanied him to Manhattan, the New York Times wrote, she “set tongues wagging by wearing tight cat suits and feathered headdresses” to museum events. The relationship was on the rocks in 2013, when she announced via Facebook that they were to divorce. Three months later, they remarried, as @MaxAndersonUSA tweeted in July of that year: “1) Rekindled. 2) Renewed. 3) Remarried. 7/15/2013. Max & Jacqueline.”

4. He comes from a long line of American influencers.
Anderson’s grandfather, also Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959), was a playwright, poet, and journalist. Among other distinctions, he won a 1933 Pulitzer Prize for his political drama Both Your Houses. So his grandson’s thespian efforts are perhaps in the genes.

Leonardo da Vinci, <i>Salvator Mundi</i>, ca. 1500.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, ca. 1500.

5. He aimed to put the Dallas Museum of Art on the Old Master map.
In 2012, Anderson tried to get the DMA a “destination painting” in the form of a recently rediscovered Leonardo da Vinci panel painting known as the Salvator Mundi. The price tag was said to be $200 million (but it was reportedly sold in 2014 for $75 million). It would have been a big move into the Old Master field for a painting department that was stronger in work from the 18th through 20th centuries.

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