In a University-wide email on Tuesday, University President Peter Salovey announced Courtney J. Martin GRD ’09 as the next director of the Yale Center for British Art. Martin, a scholar of contemporary British art who focuses on the 20th century, has extensive experience as a historian, curator and educator.
“[Martin] is committed to providing outstanding educational opportunities for our students, scholarly material for our faculty, and enriching experiences for the thousands of visitors that come to the YCBA every year,” Salovey said in the Tuesday morning email. “In addition, she is both attentive to the core collection of 17th, 18th, and mid-19th century art as well as modern and contemporary British art. I know that she will ensure the YCBA’s ever-increasing international prominence in the years ahead.”
Martin will succeed current director Amy Meyers, who was appointed to her position in 2002. Meyers, who also acts as the CEO of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, has made numerous contributions to the YCBA over the course of her directorship. In addition to creating the YCBA’s Research Division, Meyers developed a postdoctoral research program, supported the creation of the online scholarly journal “British Art Studies” and supervised the digital cataloguing of the YCBA’s collection.
Meyers said that she is “profoundly honored” that Martin will succeed her in the role, adding that Martin’s “global work in philanthropy, years of teaching on the university level and leadership in the museum world” will provide a new vision for the YCBA.
“Recognized particularly for her scholarship in the fields of modern and contemporary British art, she will guide the program of the center, in all of its aspects, with a brilliance that is all her own,” Meyers said. “Her grace and humanity will set a new standard for leadership in the cultural arena.”
Martin received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, a masters in art history and criticism from Stony Brook University and a doctorate in history of art from Yale. While studying at Yale, Martin worked under advisors Tim Barringer — the Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art — and Kellie Jones, who is currently a professor of art history and archaeology at Columbia University.
Martin participated in Yale’s Graduate Research Assistant Program at the YCBA during her Ph.D. candidacy and made curatorial contributions to an exhibit entitled “Art and Emancipation in Jamaica.” This 2007 exhibition coincided with the bicentenary of the abolition of the British slave trade and focused on the visual and material culture of slavery and emancipation in Jamaica.
“I am thrilled that Courtney Martin will return to Yale as director of the Yale Center for British Art,” Barringer said. “She is a distinguished scholar and curator with a deep knowledge of British art and a visionary sense of the social role of museums in the contemporary world. More than that, however, she is a person of true integrity and insight, an inspiring presence on campus.”
Barringer added that the Department of History of Art is looking forward to welcoming future collaborations with Martin.
After her graduation from Yale, Martin taught and researched at Vanderbilt University and later joined the faculty of Brown University. In his email to the student body, Salovey noted that Martin, during her time at those universities, “expertly fostered understanding and appreciation of art, while using the work of artists to launch conversations and inspire discoveries across disciplines.”
In 2015, Martin joined the Dia Art Foundation as an adjunct curator and was invited to become the deputy director and chief curator of the foundation in 2017. The foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement, realization and preservation of artistic vision, according to its webpage.
The YCBA Director Search Advisory Committee that appointed Martin was chaired by Sterling Professor of English Ruth Yeazell GRD ’71. Other members of the committee included Tim Barringer, Edward Cooke ’77, Anoka Faruqee ’94, Susan Gibbons, Pericles Lewis, Ian McClure and Keith Wrightson.
“I know that the staff of the YCBA is eager to build on Amy Meyers’s legacy by extending its outreach to faculty and students, especially undergraduates, and to think of new ways of connecting the institution both to New Haven and to the global community for British art,” Yeazell said. “As the deputy director of an innovative museum, as well as a scholar and teacher of British art who’s strongly committed to connecting recent developments in the field to the full sweep of art history, [Martin is] superbly prepared to lead the YCBA in its multiple roles as a museum, research institute and a locus for teaching.”
The YCBA is located at 1080 Chapel St.
Rianna Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org