When many people think of contemporary art venues in the Hudson Valley, they might think of Dia Beacon, Storm King, or Art Omi. But outside of the world of sculpture parks and large-scale installations, there’s another name that has been setting the tone for contemporary art curation in the region for over 30 years: The Hessel Museum of Art at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard).
Located in Annandale-on-Hudson, CCS Bard was the first graduate school for curatorial studies in North America, co-founded in 1990 by noted contemporary art collector Marieluise Hessel. In its three decades, the center has served as an important incubator for innovation and experimentation in exhibition-making for students, staff, and curators around the world.
At the heart of its public-facing programming is the 17,000-square-foot Hessel Museum of Art and its Marieluise Hessel Collection of Contemporary Art, which comprises nearly 2,000 works contemporaneously collected by Hessel and dedicated for the center’s exclusive use.
If you’re a contemporary art lover and you haven't made a pilgrimage to the museum yet, this is definitely the year to go. As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, CCS Bard has mounted several exhibitions that highlight Hessel’s ongoing contribution to the art world.
“Closer to Life: Drawings and Works on Paper in the Marieluise Hessel Collection,” on view until October 17, is an exhibition of drawings and works on paper by over fifty artists from her collection. The exhibition follows the history of the collector’s life, highlighting periods she spent in Germany, Mexico, and the United States.
“Our position as a critical platform in the contemporary arts dialogue is due in no small part to the original vision and continued support of Marieluise Hessel, who remains an integral force in our community through her generosity and commitment to our program,” says Tom Eccles, Executive Director of CCS Bard and Founding Director of the Hessel Museum of Art. With the mounting of these two exhibitions, you can finally experience her impact on the Hudson Valley contemporary art scene in full.