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Figurative Sculpture in Social Critique: Curating the Straus Family Collection

Paweł Althamer,  The Power of Now , 2016. Photo by Maksim Akelin

Paweł Althamer, The Power of Now, 2016. Photo by Maksim Akelin

Take a closer look at figurative sculpture and its role in social critique.

Join New Museum’s Kraus Family Curator Gary Carrion-Murayari, Death is Irrelevant co-curator Tim Hawkinson and collector and curator Sarena Straus as they investigate the social and political dimensions of contemporary figurative sculpture, with a special focus on Polish artist Paweł Althamer’s The Power of Now (2016). Moderated by Hyperallergic editor and Minerva Projects founding director Yasmeen Siddiqui, panelists will discuss the use of the body as medium and message in sculptural practice before exploring the  “body” of the Straus Family Collection, and the process and challenges of curating a private collection into a museum exhibition.

Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Those who purchase or reserve admissions tickets in advance will be guaranteed seating.


Free with admission


3:30 - 5:00 PM

About the Speakers:

Gary Carrion-Murayari is the Kraus Family Curator at the New Museum in New York. Over the past eight years, he has curated solo exhibitions by artists including John Akomfrah, Phyllida Barlow, Ellen Gallagher, Camille Henrot, Raymond Pettibon, and Nari Ward among many others. He has also co-curated several New Museum group exhibitions including, “Ghosts in the Machine,” “NYC 1993,” and the 2018 New Museum Triennial. He previously worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art from 2003-1010 where he curated or co-curated a number of exhibitions including the 2010 Whitney Biennial.

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Tim Hawkinson has been a Partner at the Lower East Side gallery MARC STRAUS since 2012.  Prior to this he was a Director at James Corcoran Gallery (Los Angeles), Patrick Painter, Inc (Los Angeles), and Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert (New York). He studied art history at the University of California Berkeley and got his start working in the Matrix program at the Berkeley Art Museum.

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Sarena Straus is an attorney, author, writer and gallerist. In 2017, after more than twenty years of full-time law practice, Ms. Straus went into business for herself and is currently working with Marc Straus Gallery in New York City and assisting in the management and oversight of the Straus Family Collection. She also supports several companies as an outside general counsel and continues to write for numerous non-fiction publications in various catalogs and magazines art and legal topics. She is currently working on a novel.

Ms. Straus was an art history major, graduating from Barnard College, Cum Laude, before attending Fordham Law School, where she focused on Criminal Law. In 2006, Ms. Straus published, Bronx DA: True Stories from the Sex Crimes and Domestic Violence Unit (Barricade Books). In 2010, the book was optioned by CBS/Paramount as a TV show.

Ms. Straus is on the boards of HVMOCA and The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and has also served as an adjunct professor at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Science and at the University of Zambia School of Law. Previously, she was a frequent guest on numerous radio and talk shows, speaking on topics of criminal law and child protection. Death is Black and White, which drew on her extensive knowledge of the family collection and her love of photography was her curatorial debut.


Yasmeen Siddiqui is founding director of Minerva Projects, editor at Hyperallergic, and core-faculty at the Chautauqua School of Art. Guiding Siddiqui’s practice is an overarching commitment to testing perceptions of either specific artists or existing art movements through the synchronized interplay of exhibition making and writing. Minerva Projects is an incubator space launched in Denver, Colorado, and based in Pine Plains, New York. It is a site where curatorial ideas are tested in service to publishing books. Collaborating on multiple fronts with art historian Alpesh Kantilal Patel, Siddiqui is co-editing the forthcoming volume on art history in the Intellect Books Series, Living and Sustaining a Creative Life. Siddiqui’s past subjects in writing and curating have included Do Ho Suh, Consuelo Castañeda, Hassan Khan, Linda Ganjian, Pia Lindman, Lara Baladi, Mary Carothers, Matt Lynch and Chris Vorhees, and Mel Charney.

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The event was organized in collaboration with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.