Mario Amaya (October 6, 1933 – June 29, 1986) was an American art critic, museum director, magazine editor and former director of the New York Cultural Center (1972–1976) and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia (1976–1979). He was also the chief curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario (1969–1972) and the founding editor of London’s Art and Artists Magazine. He studied Art Nouveau for 35 years, some of this under the teaching of artist Mark Rothko.
Mario Anthony Amaya was born in Brooklyn in 1933, and after graduating from Brooklyn College in 1958, he went to England and became the assistant editor of the Royal Opera House magazine About the House from 1962 to 1968, and while still in England became the founding editor of Art and Artists magazine from 1965 to 1968. Amaya also wrote books on art, such as Pop As Art: A Survey of the New Super Realism (1965), Art Nouveau (1966), and Tiffany Glass (1967).
On June 3, 1968, Mario Amaya was in Andy Warhol’s office when radical feminist Valerie Solanas opened fire and shot both Amaya and Warhol. Amaya, 34 at the time, was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment of bullet grazes on his back.
While in his curatorial positions he mounted major exhibitions of Art Nouveau. For example, “Realism Now” (1972), “Blacks: USA” (1973), “Women Choose Women” (1973), “Bouguereau” (organized with Robert Isaacson, 1975), and a retrospective of photographer Man Ray (1975). When he became the director of the New York Cultural Center in 1972, he helped strengthen the Center’s position as one of the liveliest of New York’s museums at the time. Amaya used his position at the Cultural Center to house over 150 shows in three years. Amaya also contributed to many galleries, and lectured and acted as a visiting professor of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
- Amaya, Mario. Art Nouveau. Studio Vista, Ltd., London, 1966;
- Bourdon, D. "New York Museum Crisis: Two Bite Dust." Art in America, vol.63, No.5, 1975;
- Russell, John. "Mario Amaya, 52, Art Critic, Editor and Museum Director," The New York Times June 30, 1986;
- Russell, John. "Obituary," Art in America, vol.74, 1986;
- The Globe and Mail No. 36968, June 4, 1968.