Is Asia Society Closing In On a New Director? In the Running Are Philip Tinari and Miwako Tezuka

Melissa Chiu left the museum for the Hirshhorn in September.

Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art.

artnet News’ sources indicate that New York’s Asia Society Museum may soon announce a new director. Sources say that Ullens Center for Contemporary Art director Philip Tinari is the frontrunner for the job, with Miwako Tezuka, Japan Society Gallery director, running a close second.

The Asia Society has been without a director since Melissa Chiu decamped for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in the nation’s capital, in September. Chiu had run the show since 2004, after working as a contemporary art curator there since 2001 (see Melissa Chiu Named Head of Hirshhorn Museum).

In 2011, when he was just 32 years of age, Tinari took the reins at the Ullens from Jérôme Sans. He’s lived in Beijing since winning a Fulbright fellowship at Beijing University. Previously editor of Artforum‘s China edition, he had also run the bilingual art magazine LEAP. Tinari oversaw the Armory Show’s Focus: China section in 2014, where he sought to raise awareness of artists like Xu Zhen, He Xiangyu, and Huang Rui, not just the usual suspects (see “There Actually Are Other Artists in China Besides Ai Weiwei,” Says Armory Show Focus Curator Philip Tinari).

Miwako Tezuka.

Miwako Tezuka.

Tezuka took charge at the Japan Society Gallery when Joe Earle retired in 2012. The 2014 show “Points of Departure: Treasures of Japan from the Brooklyn Museum” earned praise from the New York Times’s Karen Rosenberg, who called it “radically reorienting,” saying that “the show gives you a new way to navigate Japanese art.” (See New York Times Critic Karen Rosenberg to Artspace as Deputy Editor).

Sure to get some attention is the upcoming exhibition “Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection,” opening March 13 and featuring 90 prints from Tokyo’s Hiraki collection depicting felines.

Prior to her role as the director of the Japan Society Gallery, Tezuka was with Asia Society, where as associate curator she organized the 2010 show “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool,” which was the first time the entire museum had been devoted to a single-artist show. In 2006, Tezuka organized the museum’s first show devoted to video art, “Projected Realities: Video Art from East Asia.” Starting the next year, she helped the museum develop its video art collection. Among her other shows there were “Yang Fudong: Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest” (2009) and “Mariko Mori: Kumano” (2010). She holds a PhD in art history from Columbia University.

(For the record, Melissa Chiu is married to artnet News editor-in-chief Benjamin Genocchio.)


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