Art Institute of Chicago Names James Rondeau Director

Rondeau has had a hand in major shows at the museum over the past 18 years.

James Rondeau.
Photo: courtesy Art Institute of Chicago.

The Art Institute of Chicago has hired a longtime in-house modern and contemporary art curator as its new director and president.

A 18-year veteran of the institution and the chair of the department of modern and contemporary art, Rondeau, 46, succeeds Douglas Druick, who announced his resignation in October after four years in the post. Druick was also hired from within after joining the museum as a curator in 1984.

Rondeau has had a hand in numerous major exhibitions at the Institute, including the recent Charles Ray retrospective, a 2012 Steve McQueen show, a Roy Lichtenstein retrospective, and “Jasper Johns: Gray 1955-2015,” which won the International Art Critics Association/AICA award for the best monographic exhibition in the US in 2007.

“I’ve made this extraordinary institution my professional home for nearly two decades because I believe it is one of the greatest museums in the world,” Rondeau said in a statement. “I have always embraced the unique challenges of my role as a curator within the powerful context of an encyclopedic institution and I am eager to take on this new role, bringing energy and dedication to the exciting opportunities ahead.”

Artist Steve McQueen weighed in on the hire in a statement, saying, “I first became a friend and colleague of James Rondeau 20 years ago, and I’ve been arguing with him passionately about art and ideas ever since.”

The news comes two days after the museum announced the largest cash gift in its history, of $35 million, from the estate of late collector Dorothy Braude Edinburg, which will go to acquire new works in Asian art, drawing, and prints.

Rondeau came on as an associate curator of contemporary art in 1998, assuming the chair of the department in 2004. During this time, the museum secured the Stefan T. Edlis and Gael Neeson collection of contemporary art, which is the largest gift of art in the museum’s history.

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