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Hopkins New Chairman of UCLA Department of Art

April 25, 1991|SUZANNE MUCHNIC | TIMES ART WRITER

Henry T. Hopkins has resigned as director of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation to become chairman of the UCLA department of art and director of the university's Wight Art Gallery.

"I'm excited about the move," Hopkins said in a telephone interview, noting that his appointment--effective on July 1--coincides with major changes in the department. "Either by fate or retirement, six faculty slots will be opening, so this is an opportunity to help rebuild the department and rethink its approach to teaching."

At the gallery, Hopkins will succeed Edith A. Tonelli, who recently resigned. In taking over her position as well as chairing the department, Hopkins said his dual role will resemble that of the late Frederick S. Wight, for whom the gallery is named. Hopkins also will teach a new introductory course in art history, theory and criticism. "His joint appointment as an educator and administrator here will serve our students and faculty well, and promises to benefit the art community. We are confident that his presence will provide strong leadership for the visual arts at UCLA and will assure a close relationship between our academic and public programs," Chancellor Charles E. Young said in a prepared statement.

Changes in the gallery program will not be immediately apparent because exhibitions have been planned for the next 18 months, Hopkins said. But he indicated that the program will be reshaped to better serve the campus community--by providing a showcase for visiting artists who work with students, for example.

Hopkins became known in Los Angeles in the 1960s, when he directed educational programs at the County Museum of Art. He was director of the Ft. Worth Museum from 1968 to 1973, and director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from 1974 to 1986. In his high-visibility San Francisco post, he organized exhibitions on such major artists as Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Motherwell.

He joined the Los Angeles-based Weisman Foundation in 1986, when Frederick R. Weisman was actively seeking a museum for his vast collection of contemporary art. Weisman subsequently abandoned that search and put foundation funds into exhibitions and other programs. The foundation's workshops and a recently announced awards program will continue after his departure on June 1, Hopkins said. He will continue to serve the foundation as a consultant and director emeritus. Weisman may seek a full-time director as his successor, but "that question has not been resolved yet," he said.

Hopkins has served as a visiting professor at UCLA this year, teaching a course in art theory and criticism. The Department of Art, one of six sections administered by the School of Arts, has 12 permanent and 22 visiting faculty positions, and a current enrollment of 276 students.

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