Richard Klein, who has served as exhibitions director at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum for more than thirty years, is departing the Ridgefield, Connecticut, institution to pursue independent projects, and to focus on creating and exhibiting his own work. He will continue his duties in an administrative capacity through June 2022 and will mount his final exhibition at the museum in February 2023.
Klein has been a force at the institution since he began working there as registrar and preparator in 1990; he stepped up as acting director in 1994 (he would hold the position several more times over the coming years), notably organizing the 1995 group show “Drawn on the Museum,” which featured the work of graffiti artist Daze and performance artist Karen Finley, as well as that of Sol LeWitt, Dorothea Rockburne, Nancy Spero, and Martin Wong. In the first decade of his long tenure, Klein worked closely with the founder Larry Aldrich until Aldrich’s death in 2001. He is known for forging strong relationships with many of the artists with whom he worked. “When I exhibited at the Aldrich at Richard’s invitation, it was a surprise to discover the depth of his interest in my work,” said Jessica Stockholder in a statement. “From [our] conversations flowed a project that wouldn’t have happened anywhere else; one that intersected not only museum resources, but also carpentry and printing talent from the community that had been cultivated over time in response to Richard’s exuberant and respectful curiosity.”
As exhibitions director, Klein organized nearly a hundred shows, including “Fred Wilson: Black Like Me” and “No Reservations: Native American History and Culture in Contemporary Art” (both 2006), “Elizabeth Peyton: Portrait of an Artist” (2008), “Shimon Attie: MetroPAL.IS.” (2011), “Michael Joo: Drift “(2014), “Taylor Davis: If you steal a horse, and let him go, he’ll take you to the barn you stole him from” (2014), “Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley: Your Turn” (2017), “Weather Report” (2019), and “Twenty Twenty” (2020). His most recent show, “Duane Slick: The Coyote Makes the Sunset Better,” opens January 17 and runs through May 8. “It’s hard to believe that the Aldrich existed before Richard’s arrival,” acknowledged Cybele Maylone, the museum’s executive director.
“Looking back, other than art, what’s kept me engaged with the museum has been the incredibly talented and passionate people I’ve had a chance to work with,” said Klein in a statement. “Obviously there have been the artists—who have taught me so much—but there are also the staff, volunteers, members and trustees who have inspired me over the years and helped me realize my vision of what a contemporary art museum should be.”
As of yet, Klein’s replacement has not yet been announced.