Tonawanda News

Features

June 2, 2013

Janne Sirén takes over as the Albright-Knox's director

(Continued)

Tonawanda News — “The Pollock (Jackson Pollock’s massive 1952 painting ‘Convergence,’ which the Albright-Knox owns and proudly displays near its front door) today is a modern classic. Sixty years ago it was radical. A work of art is like a book. It’s a reading process. It takes time, and you’re not going to like every book in the library. We are attentive to many audiences, and we honor diversity,” Sirén said.

Sitting at a table in a modernist Albright-Knox conference room, Sirén looks the part, a young globetrotter wizened in the world of international art who grew up in Finland and Switzerland, with three college degrees from two American universities, College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and New York University.

“I’ve interfaced with publics in seven different countries. I’ve seen a lot of diversity and rich history. (The museums) mirror the community,” he said.

Of his new appointment, Sirén says “there is more objective decision-making” than at his previous position as director of the Helsinki Art Museum in Finland. 

“There are thousands of artists around the world. The range of options is galactic, and I’m privileged to have world-class people working here,” he said, adding the Albright-Knox does it “with a much smaller staff — 70 people — than in Helsinki.”

Sirén evidently likes what he’s gotten into. Introduced to an audience at a jazz concert in the Albright-Knox auditorium several weeks ago — yes, they present jazz in there, too — he said the right things, then endeared himself by dancing across the stage.

The museum has had only eleven directors in its 151-year history. While the position is not lifetime, directors are expected to leave a mark on the collection and the community (previous director Grachos, before leaving for Austin, Texas, certainly did), and Sirén seems poised for something big here. 

With the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, something big tends to be a part of the mission.

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