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Farewell seminar at the Corcoran

The good-bye evening on Tuesday night was a time for champagne, designer chocolates, and a few terse observations.

greenhalgh
Paul Greenhalgh. (Andrea Bruce/Post)

Dressed in a natty pinstripe suit, and a white shirt opened at the neck, Paul Greenhalgh, the former director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, slipped easily into his professorial delivery, as he gave what he called a "Farewell Lecture."

In May Greenhalgh announced he would be returning to England to direct a visual arts school in Norwich. That phase of his career, which has included five years as president of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and head of research at Victoria & Albert Museum in London, starts Nov. 1. He will keep an adjunct curator role with the Corcoran.

Fred Bollerer, the Corcoran's chief operating officer, is serving as director until a permanent replacement is found.

But on Tuesday Greenhalgh took the stage.

"I'm going to explain the whole world of art in an hour," he joked, walking away from the auditorium's lecturn.

Using slides from Rembrandt to Warhol, Greenhalgh talked at one point about Rembrandt's self portraits. "It's rather a bored face, just staring at us," he said.

Posting art from Francis Bacon and Fernand Leger, Greenhalgh threw out a challenge. "Imagine if the artist stood next to it, what would they think," he said.

In the talk Greenhalgh set out some definitions of "The Meaning of Art":

The work of art is a relationship.
A work of art is a physical thing.
The work of art is ubiquitious.
The work of art is either public or private.
The work of art is populist.

And he left them with one more principle: "The Corcoran is a work of art."

By Jacqueline Trescott  | October 7, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Galleries, Jacqueline Trescott  
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