Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Celebrate Achenbach’s 60th with Two New Appointments

San Francisco, May 2008—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco celebrate the 60th year of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts with two new appointments to its department of works of art on paper.

John E. Buchanan Jr., Director of FAMSF, is pleased to announce that Karin Breuer has been appointed curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation. Breuer has been at FAMSF since 1985, when she joined the Museums as assistant curator. Over the past twenty-three years, Breuer has curated more than twenty-five exhibitions at the Legion of Honor and the de Young on subjects as diverse as Roy Lichtenstein’s prints, Arnold Genthe’s photographs, and twentieth-century landscape drawings. From 1992–1995 she directed the curatorial effort of the Achenbach Collection Management Project, a massive computer inventory of the collection. In 2002, she was named curator of contemporary graphic art and curator of new de Young planning. For the de Young project, she served as coordinator of the art installation for the 300,000 square foot museum.

Breuer’s recent curatorial activities have centered on contemporary prints and drawings. She says, “I am proud and privileged to be leading the Achenbach at the Museums where I have spent most of my curatorial career. It is an outstanding collection with a rich history and tremendous possibilities for the future, both in growth of the collections and an expansion of exhibition programming. I look forward to working with Director Buchanan, my colleagues at the Museums, and the Bay Area art community in developing the Achenbach’s great potential.”

Breuer received her B.A. in art history from Stanford University and her M.A. in art history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. On the retirement of Robert Flynn Johnson in July 2007, she was named acting curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts.

James Ganz has been appointed curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. He comes to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where he was Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs for twelve years. “Having long admired the outstanding collections and programs of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco from a distance, I am thrilled at the prospect of joining the staff of this renowned institution. The Achenbach is one of the country’s great print rooms, and I feel like a kid being given the keys to the most amazing candy store. I look forward to immersing myself in the Bay Area’s exciting arts community. For me, this is the opportunity of a lifetime!” says Ganz.

At the Clark, Ganz organized more than twenty exhibitions, from topics in old master prints and drawings to nineteenth-century photography, most recently the critically acclaimed The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings (2007) and Eduard Baldus: Landscape and Leisure in Early French Photography. Prior to his appointment at the Clark, Ganz was a National Endowment for the Arts curatorial intern and then special assistant for prints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 1988 to 1992. Dr. Ganz received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2000.

Buchanan states, “The Museums’ department of prints and drawings has enjoyed a remarkable history as one of the great treasuries of graphic arts in America. The appointment of curators Karin Breuer and James Ganz ensures that the department’s programs and collections will be greatly advanced in the coming years.”

The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, founded in 1948 by Moore and Hazel Achenbach, is widely recognized as among the largest and best museum collections of its kind in the United States. With nearly 100,000 works representing over 500 years of graphic arts from around the world, the collection is utilized as a teaching vehicle as well as for exhibitions and publications. The strength of the Achenbach collection lies in its diversity and the pursuit of a broad range of graphic art that reflects the aesthetics and politics as well as the social and cultural mores of the era in which it was created.

A number of very important collections of works on paper have been acquired by the Museums, including the Rockefeller Collection, the Crown Point Press Archive, the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection, the Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, and the Ed Ruscha Graphic Arts Archive.

Recent major exhibitions have included Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper (2007), a display of the breadth and depth of the collecting activities of a decade; After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006 (2006), contemporary photographer Mark Klett’s commemoration of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire utilizing 1906 photographs from the Achenbach collection; Artist Books in the Modern Era 1870–2000 (2001), an exhibition that featured 180 artist-illustrated books given to the Fine Arts Museums by Chicago collectors Reva and David Logan; Thirty-Five Years at Crown Point Press (1997), a celebration of the acquisition of the archive of the internationally-renowned print workshop; Treasures of the Achenbach (1995), a commemoration of the re-opening of the newly renovated Legion of Honor; The Expressionists Era in Germany (1990), a showcase of the Achenbach’s impressive collection of German Expressionists prints and drawings; The Male Journey in Japanese Prints (1989), an examination by scholar Roger Keyes of ukiyo-e prints from the Achenbach’s distinguished collection; Master Drawings of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (1985), marking the first time the most important drawings of the collection were extensively studied, published, and exhibited; and America Observed: Etchings by Edward Hopper, Photographs by Walker Evans (1976), combining the photographs of Evans and the graphic art of Hopper, two of America’s iconic artists.

The Achenbach collection is housed at the Legion of Honor, and includes a library and public study center, collection storage and conservation lab, and a comprehensive computerized catalog of the entire collection accessible via terminals in the study center. Exhibitions derived from the Achenbach holdings have been mounted at both the Legion and the de Young, and works on paper frequently support other exhibitions throughout the museums. The Achenbach boasts a 350-member support council, the Achenbach Graphic Arts Council, which actively fundraises for art acquisitions and a curatorial internship. In addition, the Achenbach is the beneficiary of major funds for acquisitions through the Achenbach Endowment and the Phyllis Wattis Fund for Major Accessions of modern and contemporary masterworks. Recent acquisitions from these funds include a rare Rembrandt etching, a collage by Kurt Schwitters, a print by Pablo Picasso from the Vollard Suite, and four color woodcuts by Donald Judd. The Achenbach has also welcomed major gifts into its holdings in the past year, including six delicate watercolors by the famed eighteenth-century botanical artist, Pierre-Joseph Redouté.

Four curators in its 60-year history have directed the Achenbach: Alfred Neumeyer, Irene Lagorio, E. Gunter Troche, and recently Robert Flynn Johnson, who retired in July 2007 and was named Curator Emeritus.