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Brandeis welcomes new director to the Rose

By Noah Harper

Section: Arts

November 10, 2017

This past summer, Brandeis welcomed Luis A. Croquer to campus as the new Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum. Croquer, originally from El Salvador, brings both international experience and an impressive knowledge of the art world to the Rose. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the new director about modern and contemporary art and his vision for the on-campus institution’s future.

“I was always very curious,” Croquer said. “I was always really interested, before I became a curator, in figuring out who was the first person that thought Picasso was great, and why did they think that?” He said he found this question extremely compelling. “Who has the nose to be able to define what’s there? That’s what brought me to this profession.”

It’s obvious that Croquer has been passionate about art for some time. After studying anthropology and communications at Goldsmith College, he received a master’s degree in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism at SUNY Purchase. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Guggenheim Museum and the Warhol Foundation.

In describing his role as a curator, “It’s a discipline like anything,” he said. “We try to stay abreast of who’s coming up—artists are very important in telling us who they’re looking at…sometimes it’s by visiting artists’ studios, by visiting galleries but also keeping your ears open.” The benefit of such a practice could be buying early works from a young artist like Andy Warhol. “That’s what our work is about,” Croquer said, “The idea of taking calculated risks, risks that rely on our knowledge and our expertise, that’s something that I hope to continue.”

The Rose is a museum focused on modern and contemporary art—art that not all people are particularly fond of. I asked Mr. Croquer what he might say to those that eschew latter-day artistic works. “We’re not here to convert anybody,” he replied, “But we are here to provide a bridge, a kind of window into what’s happening out there in the world.” He added that, “Artists are very good ambassadors for their work.”

Obviously, one of the highlights of focusing on modern and contemporary art is that oftentimes the artists are still alive. “I think it’s important to come and see the shows but also to keep track of what programs go with the shows, because that’s when you really have an opportunity to come and listen to the artist… This is the good thing about living artists, they’re continuing their career just as you are.”

The Rose has an especially important role as a gathering place for community—something that Croquer seems keen on fostering. “I’m interested in seeing how the Rose can really be a point of intersection,” he said. “I think that’s what the world is about, you should be in a place where you’re meeting not only the people that study with you but also the people from other art institutions, other art lovers, it’s a good place to kind of develop community, community around art, and have the kinds of conversations that artists are asking people to engage in.”

There’s also the opportunity for return visits. The fact that the Rose has free admission and is conveniently located on campus offers students the chance to come back. “I love the slow burn,” said Croquer. “There are things that have immediate gratification—people see something they love at the shows—and there are other things that are a little more difficult.” The benefit of the Rose is that “you’re able to return again and again…there are things that are challenging that develop inside of you over time.”

He extended the invitation to Brandeis students: “I think the museum’s here for you during the week, and it’s such a wonderful thing to be inside with a lot of people, but it’s also very special to have these very personal moments when you can be there by yourself.”

The Rose is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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