The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto is losing its executive director of curatorial affairs to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York. Elizabeth Smith, who joined the AGO in September, 2010 after serving as chief curator and deputy director of programs at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, is leaving her Toronto perch July 23 to become the first executive director of the Frankenthaler, dedicated to advancing the work of the famous abstract painter who died at 83 in 2011.
Prior to coming to Toronto – she was hired after a five-month international search – the Columbia University-educated Smith spent more than a decade in Chicago, teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in addition to her duties at the city’s contemporary art museum. Previously, she lived in California, working as curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for 16 years, and teaching at the University of Southern California.
In a statement to trustees Wednesday, AGO director Matthew Teitelbaum lauded Smith for bringing “sustained professional leadership,” making “important hires,” “developing systematic collection reviews,” and planning such important exhibitions as the Abstract Expressionism showcase lent by New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 2011 and the upcoming Ai Weiwei retrospective opening next month.