Randy Kennedy Answers Our Questions About His New Role at Hauser & Wirth

The super gallery's courtship of the superstar art scribe lasted just "a few weeks."

Randy Kennedy. © Patrick McMullan. Photo by Patrick McMullan.
Randy Kennedy. © Patrick McMullan. Photo by Patrick McMullan.

This morning, the art journalism world was stunned by the news that Randy Kennedy, a well-respected presence on the New York Times‘s art pages for more than two decades, was decamping to work for mega-gallery Hauser & Wirth. Speculation immediately flew about what the move said about the Times, and the future of art coverage in general. Although Kennedy had interviewed and written about artists represented by the gallery for years, he says his move comes after a whirlwind courtship of just a few weeks.

artnet News had the chance to ask Kennedy some questions by email.

Tell me a bit about your conversations with Hauser & Wirth and how this decision to move came about. Is it a new position created for you?

The gallery approached me a few weeks ago, with ideas about new publishing and documentary projects they want to explore. I’m an artist-book aficionado and I’ve always approached reporting about art with a sense of writing history. So those things were really appealing to me. I’ve been in daily journalism for more than 25 years now, and it feels like the right time to figure out how to be an editor, a writer, and thinker about art in different ways.

Did cutbacks in cultural coverage at papers like Wall Street Journal and New York Times affect your decision? 

The Times‘s cultural coverage is, if anything, accelerating right now, with hires of great people like Sopan Deb and lots of new ways of telling stories being tried out. So that wasn’t a factor in my decision.

What is your mandate at Hauser & Wirth?

To help the gallery think about new publishing and documentary projects, to be adventurous in courting broader audiences into an appreciation of what the gallery and its artists—and the wider art world around those artists—are doing.

How do you see the skills that you’ve honed as a longtime arts writer complementing your new position?

I’ve been a writer and reporter my whole life, and I think those skills—with words, with talking to people, with thinking about how to engage readers and audiences—will help me in this new job.

What do you see as the challenges of making a transition to a gallery system? Especially one with as large a footprint as Hauser & Wirth. 

I have no idea yet. I might be able to tell you in a few months!

Randy Kennedy, Julian Schnabel, and Jeff Koons attend TimesTalks Presents Julian Schnabel And Jeff Koons at The Times Center on March 6, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

Randy Kennedy, Julian Schnabel, and Jeff Koons attend at The Times Center on March 6, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images.

What do you hope to learn or understand better in your new job?

I really hope to be able to deepen my knowledge about parts of art history and the art world in a way that I’ve never had time to do while chasing daily deadlines.


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