Marina Abramović, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson Call for Stedelijk to Reinstate Beatrix Ruf

Ruf resigned last year after a potential conflict of interest; a petition claims that she is being punished for her connections

Beatrix Ruf. Courtesy: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; photograph: Robin de Puy

Beatrix Ruf. Courtesy: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; photograph: Robin de Puy

Beatrix Ruf. Courtesy: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; photograph: Robin de Puy

A group of prominent artists, gallerists and other art world professionals is calling for Beatrix Ruf to be reinstated at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. A petition has been launched which calls Ruf ‘a tireless advocate for contemporary art’, and praises her bold vision ‘in a world so often clouded by speculation and media hyperbole’.

Ruf resigned as the Stedelijk’s director last October after reports in the Dutch media regarding a potential conflict of interest between her job and her external art advisory service, as well as handling of museum donors. The national newspaper NRC Handelsblad claimed that a donation by German collector Thomas Borgmann came with a contract stipulating that the museum would buy works by artists Michael Krebber and Matt Mullican from the donor, and a separate report by the newspaper said that Ruf’s private art-advisory was not included in external activities listed in the museum’s annual report.

The new petition claims that Ruf has been ‘punished’ for the very connections for which she was appointed at the museum in the first place: ‘We the undersigned collaboratively express our dismay at her resignation from the Stedelijk museum and reiterate our full support for this extraordinary voice in contemporary culture.’ Signatories include Marina Abramović, Rem Koolhaas, Sadie Coles, Wolfgang Tillmans, Stefan Kalmár, Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson.

The Stedelijk told frieze that ‘the artistic qualities of Beatrix Ruf are indisputable’, but it could not respond to the petition ‘as the conclusions of the investigations (on good governance and payment regulations) are not yet finalized. The outcomes of those investigations are expected in April 2018’.  Read Stefan Kobel writing on how such ‘conflicts of interest’ in the art world go beyond individuals: it's a structural problem too.

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