Following a national search, the San Francisco Art Institute’s Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Charles Desmarais as the new President of the SFAI.
The San Francisco Art Institute’s board chairwoman, Diane Frankel, said in Thursday’s news release announcing Desmarais hiring that he was chosen for his “significant management, financial, and fundraising skills,” and for having “played a major role in American and international art through the institutions he has led and through his writing and curatorial work.”
Currently the Deputy Director for Art at the Brooklyn Museum, Desmarais will assume his responsibilities at SFAI on August 1, 2011. Desmarais succeeds Roy Eisenhardt, who has served as Interim President since July 2010.
“We are thrilled to welcome Charles Desmarais as the new President of SFAI,” said Diane Frankel, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “His broad experience brings significant management, financial, and fundraising skills and successes to our institution. In addition, Charles has played a major role in American and international art through the institutions he has led and through his writing and curatorial work.”
As President and Chief Executive Officer of SFAI, Desmarais will shape and implement the school’s strategic plan for long-term growth, strength, and sustainability. “I am honored to join an institution with a distinguished 140-year history and great promise for the future,” said Desmarais. “I look forward to working with the Board, faculty, staff, and students to enhance the school’s position as both a fundamental part of the Bay Area community and an active participant in the global art scene.”
Desmarais will also oversee SFAI’s academic programs, which emphasize rigorous studio practices and interdisciplinary studies. “Charles brings a great depth in arts leadership and an outstanding record as an advocate for artists to his new role as President,” said Jeannene Przyblyski, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. “I look forward to working with him and learning from him as we build a dynamic vision for contemporary arts education at SFAI.”
Tony Labat, Director of SFAI’s MFA program, added: “I am very excited by the news. Charles will be a strong representative for SFAI, and has the important ability to build bridges between institutions. He comes to SFAI with a long history of involvement in the contemporary art landscape from coast to coast, including particularly deep knowledge of California art.”
Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institution has been an innovative force in the art world. Ever since, it has been a San Francisco landmark, surviving (under various names) earthquake, fire and numerous moves. More recently (2009), the school has been struggling with financial problems which resulted in controversial layoffs of nearly 25% of SFAI’s tenured faculty.