In addition to apologies for forgetting who he/she is, I owe huge thanks to whoever recommended Marcia Tucker’s memoir, A Short Life of Trouble (2008) to me. I’m over halfway through and already regretting the diminishing number of pages left to enjoy.
The redoubtable curator’s early life was full of adventure and anguish. There are parties in downtown NYC, a cross-country motorcycle ride, overseas romance, upstate escapes, and day jobs assisting mad artists. Later, she funnels her passion into a curatorial career as the first female curator ever hired at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Her activism as a feminist and the courage and aplomb with which she challenges sexism in the art world is inspiring and encouraging. It’s also a great reminder of the brevity of contemporary art history—that the institutions that seem dominant today have really been shaped by key individuals that are still active now, and these individuals aren’t the ubiquitous blue-chip male brands you typically think of.
Tucker writes in a cut-to-the-chase style fitting for her unstoppable determination and remarkable work ethic.
I highly recommend A Short Life of Trouble to artists and curators alike, especially those interested in how to live and work in fifth gear, regardless of gender. Young art and curatorial students may find the story of how Tucker realized that she was a curator, not an artist, especially useful.