Maurice Berger

1994 Vera List Center Fellow
Maurice Berger is a cultural historian, art critic, and curator living in New York City; Research Professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Consulting Curator of The Jewish Museum in New York.

Programs and projects
Patrons of Progress: The New School University Art Collection, Are We Ready for a Cabinet-Level Position for Culture?, and Cultural Policy Forum: Re-Evaluating the Culture Wars

Maurice Berger received his undergraduate degree from Hunter College and his Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Berger's articles have appeared in many journals and newspapers, including Artforum, Art in America, the New York Times, the Village Voice, October, Wired, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of the critically acclaimed White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999) and six other books, Labyrinths: Robert Morris, Minimalism, and the 1960s (Harper & Row, 1989), How Art Becomes History (HarperCollins, 1992), Modern Art and Society (HarperCollins, 1994), Constructing Masculinity (Routledge, 1995), The Crisis of Criticism (The New Press, 1998), and Postmodernism: A Virtual Discussion (Georgia O'Keeffe Research Center/CAVC, 2003).

Berger has taught and lectured at such institutions as Hunter College, Yale University, University of Maryland, Maryland Institute College of Art, DIA Center for the Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Independent Study Program (ISP) of the Whitney Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. He has served as curator or catalog essayist for numerous institutions, including Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian Institution, International Center of Photography, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Grey Art Gallery, Studio Museum in Harlem, Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), and Jewish Museum (New York).

Berger engages the issues of racism, whiteness, and contemporary race relations and their connection to visual culture in the United States. He is one of the first art historians to meld the methodologies and practices of cultural and art history with those of race studies and critical race theory, work begun by Berger in the mid-1980s as an assistant professor of art and gallery director at Hunter College. His earliest effort in this area—co-organized with the anthropologist Johnnetta B. Cole at Hunter College in 1987—was an interdisciplinary project (that included a book, art exhibition, and film program) entitled "Race and Representation." His widely-anthologized study on institutional racism—"Are Art Museums Racist?"—appeared in Art in America three years later, and helped spur a national debate on the exclusionary practices of American art museums. In the early-1990s, Berger extended his work on visual culture and race to include sustained study of the work of African-American artists, performers, filmmakers, producers, and cultural figures, culminating in solo exhibitions (Adrian Piper: A Retrospective and Fred Wilson Objects and Installations), multimedia projects (including compilation videos and elaborate context stations for art exhibitions) and essays.

Berger has also curated a number of race-related concept-based exhibitions, including For All The World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights—a joint venture of the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution and the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (2010). For All the World to See was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the tenth NEH on the Road exhibition, an initiative that will adapt the exhibition and travel it to up to 35 more venues over a five year period from 2012 to 2017. (Biography as of 2011)