Eskenazi Museum of Art Hires Lauren Richman as Assistant Curator of Photography

The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University has hired Lauren Richman as its Assistant Curator of Photography thanks to a generous grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Richman’s three-year term position will focus on researching the archive of Henry Holmes Smith.

Lauren Richman is an art historian and curator specializing in the history of photography and twentieth-century art. She received her PhD and MA in art history from Southern Methodist University and holds a BA in the same subject from Vanderbilt University. Her research centers on the relations between art and politics, images of conflict and documentary practice, and the intersections between art and visual mass culture. Richman’s dissertation analyzes how lens-based media—through U.S. government-sponsored photography exhibitions, film initiatives, and mass-media image circulation—became entangled with and impacted divided Germany’s redeveloping visual arts communities during the early Cold War period.

Richman has previously held curatorial and research positions at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and New Orleans Museum of Art. She has held academic residencies at London’s Courtauld Institute of Art and Berlin’s Freie and Humboldt Universities. Most recently, Richman was awarded a Terra Foundation for American Art Predoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She has contributed to Art Journal, as well as publications produced by the Dallas Museum of Art, Stedelijk Museum, and Centre Georges Pompidou.

As Assistant Curator of Photography at the Eskenazi Museum, Richman will focus on the archive of Henry Holmes Smith, an American photographer and leader in photographic theory and education. Smith was one of the first professors in the United States to conceptualize a History of Photography course and MFA program in photography. Long recognized for his influence on photo education and the achievements of his students (Jerry Uelsmann, Betty Hahn, and Robert Fichter, among others), Smith’s personal practice has largely been overlooked. He began his teaching career at the invitation of László Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus in Chicago, after which he began to experiment with camera-less photography and alternative processes. As early as 1948, Smith produced color dye transfer prints, achieving multi-sensory images that straddle the line between figuration and abstraction. A multi-venue retrospective exhibition and accompanying catalogue based on Richman’s research are planned.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art has a long-standing commitment to the display and collection of photography and other works on paper. In 2019, it completed a $30 million renovation that created expanded spaces for learning and engagement with original works of art. The new Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs is an essential component of the museum’s mission as a teaching museum that reaches learners across the lifespan. With a new 1,500-square-foot gallery—the museum’s first space devoted to the exhibition of works on paper—state-of-the-art compact storage, and a new, expanded study room, the center is poised to be a primary site in the Midwest for the study of prints, drawings, and photographs.

Nanette Esseck Brewer, the Eskenazi Museum of Art’s Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of Works on Paper said, “With her research interests and museum experience, Lauren Richman will bring new light to the work of Henry Holmes Smith, one of America’s most innovative modernist photographers and thinkers, as well as to Indiana University’s seminal role in the field of photographic education.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Lauren Richman to our curatorial staff, and we are grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for their support of this important effort. The museum has a longstanding tradition of researching and exhibiting photography. Henry Holmes Smith’s archive contains countless treasures that warrant careful study, and we look forward to the results of Lauren’s research,” said David A. Brenneman, Wilma E. Kelley Director at the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

About the Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. The Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Foundation’s earliest work honored his parents, missionary educators in China. The Foundation’s programs today reflect the value Mr. Luce placed on learning, leadership, and long-term commitment in philanthropy.

A leader in arts funding in the United States, the Luce Foundation's American Art Program was established in 1982 to support museums, universities, and arts organizations in their efforts to advance the understanding and experience of American and Native American visual arts through research, exhibitions, publications, and collection projects.

About the IU Eskenazi Museum of Art

Since its establishment in 1941, the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the most significant university art collections in the United States. A preeminent teaching museum on the Indiana University campus, its internationally acclaimed collection includes more than 45,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history from around the world.

The Eskenazi Museum of Art recently completed a $30 million renovation of its acclaimed I. M. Pei–designed building. The newly renovated museum is an enhanced teaching resource for Indiana University and southern Indiana. The museum is dedicated to engaging students, faculty, artists, scholars, alumni, and the wider public through the cultivation of new ideas and scholarship.

CONTACT: Mariah Keller, Director of Creative Services