Jens Hoffmann, the director of San Francisco’s Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, is set to become a deputy director at the Jewish Museum. We first caught wind of a possible move via the Baer Faxt newsletter, and a representative at the museum confirmed today that he will start by the end of the year. Details about his exact title and start date are currently being worked out.
Mr. Hoffmann has served as director of CCA Wattis since 2007, and organized a number of high-profile international exhibitions, including the 2011 Istanbul Biennial (with Adriano Pedrosa), the 2007 Lyon Biennial and (as a co-curator) the inaugural Berlin Biennial in 1998. He also staged the infamous Sixth Caribbean Biennial with Maurizio Cattelan, a fictional biennial that saw a number of artists vacation in a resort on the island of St. Kitts in 1999.
The hire could be a sign that the Jewish Museum’s new director, Claudia Gould, is planning to increase contemporary art programming at the Upper East Side institution. Ms. Gould joined the museum last year, after serving as director of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania since 1999. When her appointment was announced in August 2011, she told The New York Times, “Certainly the mission will not change, but I do come from a contemporary background, and even the historical shows or exhibitions of Judaica [may reflect that].” At the moment a number of New York museums are fiercely competing to attract new patrons through new contemporary art programs. Early this year, the Met hired Tate Modern’s chief curator, Sheena Wagstaff, to head a new department of art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
A prolific curator, Mr. Hoffmann is no stranger to New York, having held positions at the Guggenheim and Dia. He has also organized shows in many of the city’s galleries, including “Exhibitions of an Exhibition” at Casey Kaplan in 2003 and (with his brother, Jacob Hoffmann) 303’s winning “Marxism” show—about the influence of the Marx Brothers on art—just this past summer.