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Kathy Halbreich, the well-regarded leader of New York’s Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, will leave her post there this May after more than five years at the helm.
At the Rauschenberg Foundation, she oversaw all matters related to Robert Rauschenberg, one of the most notable artists of the New York scene in the postwar era. She had been executive director since 2017.
“After navigating through the precarity of the pandemic, while overseeing many courageous, even contrarian artistic and philanthropic programs as well as two major renovation projects, it is especially meaningful to leave the Foundation in such vibrant artistic and advantageous financial shape,” Halbreich wrote in a letter sent to the foundation’s staff today. “Most importantly, Bob’s work is better understood and his legacy more secure than ever.”
Based on her letter, it was not immediately obvious why Halbreich had departed or where she was headed next.
Her projects at the foundation included the beginning of a long-term initiative that will see Rauschenberg’s entire catalogue raisonné made available online for free—an unusual gesture, given that tomes of that sort are often exorbitantly priced and not readily usable for the public. The first of its ten volumes is set to appear in 2025.
The foundation also launched an artist council that provides funding to a range of sources chosen by its members, who remain anonymous, and has continued to offer grants to alternative spaces.
Prior to joining the Rauschenberg Foundation, Halbreich had been at the Museum of Modern Art, where she was associate director. She staged a range of critically lauded exhibitions there, including ones dedicated to Sigmar Polke and Bruce Nauman. And before joining MoMA, she led the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis for 16 years.
“The Board will begin an immediate search, and I am confident the new Executive Director will embrace the same permission I found to invent surprising new paths for the Foundation,” Halbreich wrote. “I look forward to that!”