On this episode of the Artmatcher podcast, Franklin Sirmans speaks with Michael Goodman about relevant transformations within the art industry. The duo discusses how Covid-19 has altered the way art is consumed by the public, and which effects will be permanent. Michael asks Franklin about recent technological shifts in the art world, like NFTs, and how he stays up to date with the fast-paced trends. They discuss how art may serve as a catalyst for difficult conversations pertaining to social justice and inclusivity, which Franklin is quite passionate about. They touch on accessibility to art, academia, and much more.
In 1993, he began his career at the Dia Art Foundation as a contributor to publications. In 1999, Sirmans organized an exhibition in Los Angeles, followed by an exhibition in Atlanta and Baltimore, as well as the shows America Remixed in Milan, Italy; Mass Appeal in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and Sackville, Canada.
In 2004, he organized the exhibit Ralph Bunche: Diplomat for Peace and Justice at the Queens Museum of Art. He was co-curator of Basquiat from 2005 until 2006, which traveled from the Brooklyn Museum to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art before arriving in Houston.
At LACMA, Franklin curated Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death?, Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada, Variations: Conversations in and Around AbstractPainting, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation. He was also the co-organizer of the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection.
Much of Franklin’s success at the LACMA can be attributed to his ability to reach out and work with contemporary artists, which is exactly what led him to PAMM
At the Pérez Art Museum Miami
The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in the Biscayne Bay Campus in Miami, Florida. Founded in 1984, the museum’s primary focus is art from cultures of the Atlantic Rim, which it describes as the Americas, Western Europe, and Africa.
Franklin was appointed as a director on January 20, 2016. Since then, he has brought some incredible exhibitions to Miami’s waterfront museum district such as Toba Khedoori and The World’s Game: Futbol and Contemporary Art.
He is also involved in a number of educational programs that are helping to make PAMM accessible to all art lovers who live in Miami or visiting from abroad. He has made it clear, through his work that he deeply values diversity not only as a curator but as a person.
Franklin has made it his mission to ensure that everyone who walks through the doors of PAMM feels welcome and at home in the museum.
Other Roles in the Arts
Franklin is also an art critic, editor, writer, and educator. He has written for several journals and newspapers on art and culture, including The New York Times, Newsweek International, Art in America, ARTnews, Grand Street and Essence Magazine. Some of his publications included:
One Planet Under a Groove (2001)
A Mythical Metropolis Materializes in Queens (May 20, 2001)
The No-Tech Way Toward Art-Making (September 2, 2001)
Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World (December 9, 2001)
Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966 (January 31, 2011)
Edward Kienholz , All – American Yawp (March 2012)
It’s hard to imagine Jean-Michel Basquiat without first thinking of the graffiti-like paintings that made him famous, but there is much more to Basquiat. In Basquiat and the Bayou, Franklin dives into Basquiat’s interest in Afro-Atlantic culture and the Southern-themed paintings he produced in his short life. In-depth essays examine Basquiat’s interest in the subject matter, despite the fact that he had little direct interaction with the culture outside of his family upbringing.