in other words

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#4 Globalization and Its Discontents with Thomas Krens


Photo credit: Julian Cassady

Art Agency, Partners
Art Agency, Partners
#4 Globalization and Its Discontents with Thomas Krens

BY Charlotte Burns
executive editor of In Other Words

For the fourth episode of “In Other Words”, we welcome Thomas Krens, the former director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and Eric Shiner, senior vice president of Contemporary art at Sotheby’s and former director of The Andy Warhol Museum.

Together with host Charlotte Burns, senior editor at AAP, they will be discussing globalization and its discontents. The conversation covers the politics of culture in the Middle East, the internationalization of museums, Krens’ latest project and much more. 

“In Other Words” is a presentation of AAP and Sotheby’s, produced by

For a full transcript, click here


Thomas Krens

Thomas Krens was born in New York City and graduated from Williams College in 1969 with degrees in political science and economics. After obtaining a master’s degree in studio art from SUNY Albany in 1971, he returned to Williams to teach in both art studio and art history in the graduate and undergraduate programs. He taught at Williams for 17 years, and was appointed director of the Williams College Museum of Art in 1980. In 1984 he also received an MBA from Yale University.

In 1986, Krens conceived of converting a recently closed factory plant in North Adams, MA—28 buildings across more than 1,000,000 sq ft—into a contemporary art museum. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), opened in 1999. 

In the mid 1980s while still at Williams, Krens was a strategic planning consultant for the Brooklyn Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the Norman Rockwell Museum. In 1988 he was appointed Director and Chief Artistic Officer of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, a position he held for 20 years.

During his two decades at the Guggenheim, Krens drove a period of significant expansion: completing the renovation of the Frank Lloyd Wright building and the Gwathmey Siegel expansion in New York; more than doubling the size of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice; designing with Frank Gehry and opening the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; creating additional branches in Berlin (the Deutsche Guggenheim) and Las Vegas (the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas and the Guggenheim Las Vegas). He was the mastermind behind other satellite projects that have yet to be realized, such as the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

During his tenure as Chief Artistic Officer at the Guggenheim, he organized and produced close to 300 exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museums worldwide, including major retrospectives of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes OldenburgRobert Morris, Jenny Holzer, and James Rosenquist among others; large historical surveys such as “Africa: The Art of a Continent,” “China: 5,000 Years,” and “Brazil: Body & Soul;” design exhibitions such “The Art of the Motorcycle” and “Giorgio Armani;” and architectural retrospectives of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Since leaving the Guggenheim, Krens has been working on museum projects in China. In 2013-2014 he was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College and is currently teaching at the School of Organization and Management at Yale University.

Eric Shiner

executive director of Pioneer Works

Eric Shiner is the executive director of Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. He was formerly senior vice president of contemporary art at Sotheby’s.  Prior to this, Shiner was the director of The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh from 2010 to 2016, and was the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Warhol from 2008 to 2010.  A leading scholar on Andy Warhol and Asian contemporary art, Shiner lived and worked in Japan for a total of six years and was assistant curator on the inaugural Yokohama Triennale in 2001.  Shiner has curated dozens of contemporary art exhibitions in cities around the globe and was the team leader on The Warhol Museum’s major Warhol retrospective that traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo between 2012 and 2014.  Notable exhibitions include Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei in 2015/16, Deborah Kass:  Before and Happily Ever After in 2012 and Armory Focus:  USA at the Armory Show in 2013. 

Charlotte Burns

executive editor of In Other Words

Charlotte Burns is the editor of In Other Words, our weekly newsletters and podcasts. She was previously the US news and market editor for The Art Newspaper, as well as a regular correspondent for publications such as the Guardian and Monocle. Previously, she worked with the London dealer Anthony d’Offay on special projects. For several years, she was a consultant at the cultural communications agency, Bolton & Quinn. She also worked at Hauser & Wirth in London.

Burns received a Masters degree (with Merit) from the Courtauld Institute in Art and Cultural Politics in Germany, 1890-1945, as well as a first-class B.A. honors degree in English and History of Art from Birmingham University. She moved to New York in 2010.

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