Which could mean only one thing. Peter Doroshenko was leaving.
The sequence seems a little odd, but today, the press release finally came out: Doroshenko, who’s been the head of the Contemporary since 2010, will leave next year when his contract’s up. in 2020, Doroshenko took the unusual move — among visual arts organizations — of riding out the pandemic by shutting down the Contemporary’s public spaces for six months. Other museums and galleries certainly closed, but no other set a particular length of time. Instead, the Contemporary concentrated on its digital offerings, including a new shop, hosting virtual interviews and launching a new quarterly journal called Art Digest.
The journal may have existed for only one issue, but the two planned shows in 2020 that were interrupted by the pandemic — paintings by Yoshitomo Nara and Liu Xiaodong — did happen earlier this year. And last month, the Contemporary opened two new shows by Peter Halley and ilya + emilia kabakov.
So the six-month hibernation plus re-boot worked.
On the other hand, earlier this year, there was the uproar over the timing of the termination of Ciara Elle Bryant and DC Horton. After an outburst of anti-Asian hate crime, notably the Atlanta shooting that included six Asian women, Bryant and Horton, both employed by the Contemporary, urged the museum issue a public statement of solidarity with Asian artists. Two weeks later, it finally did so on Instagram — but after both Bryant and Horton were let go.
At the time, the Contemporary declined requests for an interview. In its defense, the Contemporary issues a statement citing its programming that included many artists of color. It also said that “Dallas Contemporary has navigated these challenges with as much consideration and sensitivity as possible, while keeping in mind the financial stability of the institution.”
Here’s the full release:
Peter Doroshenko To Step Down as Executive Director of Dallas Contemporary
Leader Brought Museum to International Prominence During 11-Year Run
27 October, 2021 (Dallas, TX) – After eleven transformative years at the helm of Dallas Contemporary, Peter Doroshenko is stepping down from his position as executive director. He will continue to serve as director until his contract ends in May 2022.
“After over a decade at Dallas Contemporary, I will be pursuing new opportunities when my contract comes to a close in May 2022,” said Doroshenko. “I am very proud of the work I have done over the past years. It has been an honor to work with so many inspiring artists, partners and colleagues and I very much look forward to seeing the continued success of an institution I have helped shape.”
During his tenure, Doroshenko positioned Dallas Contemporary as a preeminent voice in the discourse of international contemporary arts; he initiated a complete building renovation of the 37,000 sq ft space where the museum is located; greatly expanded its cutting-edge, bi-lingual, learning programs and digital presence; as well as grew the budget fivefold.
Doroshenko organized the first institutional exhibitions of several now well-known artists such as Rob Pruitt, Jennifer Rubell, Richard Phillips, Dan Colen, Enoc Perez, Yelena Yemchuk and Tomoo Gokita. During his directorship the institution staged blockbuster exhibitions by seminal international artists including Georg Herold, Adriana Varejão, Ghada Amer, Paola Pivi, Eric Fischl, John Currin, Boris Mikhailov, Jessica Vaughn, Jose Dávila, Liu Xiaodong, Yoshimoto Nara, Shilpa Gupta, Peter Halley, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov.
“Dallas Contemporary is eternally grateful to Peter Doroshenko for his vision, doggedness and fearlessness in elevating the stature and programming of this institution through his spectacular exhibitions of international artists, his promotion of Texas artists and his constant engagement with the Dallas community. He built today’s Dallas Contemporary, and we wish him well in the future,” said John Sughrue, chairman of the museum’s board of directors.
Mr. Doroshenko joined Dallas Contemporary in 2010 from the Pinchuk Art Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he was the president and artistic director. Prior to that, he held directorship positions at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom; Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst-SMAK, Ghent, Belgium; and the Institute of Visual Arts at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. From 1991 to 1995, he was the curator of the Contemporary Art Museum, Houston. In 2017, he was commissioner for the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. A search for his replacement at Dallas Contemporary is underway.