Franklin Sirmans

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Franklin Sirmans[1] (born in New York City (Queens))[2] is an American art critic, editor, writer, curator[1] and has been the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)[3] since October 2015.[4] His initiatives there include ensuring that PAMM's art program reflects the community in Miami and securing donations. In his first six months at PAMM, he managed to secure the largest donation of works in the museum's short history, over a hundred pieces of art were donated by Design District developer Craig Robins.[5]

Early years[edit]

Sirmans was born in New York City, Queens and raised in Harlem, Albany and New Rochelle, New York.[2] He attended the Manhattan Country School (Graduating Class of 1983),[1] Albany Academy and New Rochelle High School and later received a BA degree (1991) in the history of art and English from Wesleyan University.[2]


Early on in his career, Sirmans worked at the Dia Art Foundation in publications (1993–1996).[6] He curated annual exhibitions for Los Angeles (1999), Atlanta (2003) and Baltimore (2005) as well as the shows Americas Remixed in Milan, Italy; Mass Appeal in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax and Sackville, Canada[2] and a Moment's Notice at the Inman Gallery, Houston, Texas in 2002.[7] From 2001 until 2003 he curated One Planet Under A Groove: Contemporary Art and Hip Hop at the Bronx Museum of Art; the Spelman College Art Gallery, Atlanta; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis[8] and the Villa Stuck in Munich, Germany.[9]

In 2004, he curated the show Ralph Bunche: Diplomat for Peace and Justice at the Queens Museum of Art. From 2005 until 2006 he was co-curator of Basquiat, which traveled from the Brooklyn Museum to the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and then to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.[2] Sirmans became curator of modern and contemporary art at The Menil Collection in Houston in 2006 until 2009. In 2009 he was awarded the Gold Rush Award by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.[10]

There he curated NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Steve Wolfe: Works on Paper and Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966.

In 2010, he moved to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as department head and curator of contemporary art where he remained until the fall of 2015.[3] During his time with the LACMA, he curated Maurizio Cattelan: Is There Life Before Death? (2010),[11] Fútbol: The Beautiful Game (2014),[6] Noah Purifoy: Junk Dada, Variations: Conversations in and Around Abstract Painting, Ends and Exits: Contemporary Art from the Collections of LACMA and the Broad Art Foundation, and was co-organizer of the exhibition Human Nature: Contemporary Art from the Collection.[3] In addition he was co-curator of Make It Now: New Sculpture in New York at Sculpture Center.[2]

Since October 2015,[4] he has been the director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).[3][12]

In 2019 he was selected as curate to a special section of Frieze New York, which shows artists from Just Above Midtown (JAM), the 1970s-80s Black Power Gallery.[13]

Other roles[edit]

Sirmans was an instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Princeton University.

He was the 2005 Maryland Art Place Critic-in-Residence[2] and served as artistic director of Prospect.3 New Orleans (2012–2014). He is a David C. Driskell Prize Winner (2007).[4] He has served as editor of the magazine Flash Art and was Editor-in-Chief of the ArtAsiaPacific magazine. Sirmans wrote for several journals and newspapers on art and culture, including The New York Times, Newsweek International, Art in America, ARTnews, Grand Street and Essence Magazine.[2]

Personal life[edit]

He has a daughter, who was born in L.A. He is married to Jessica Plair Sirmans[6]


  • One Planet Under a Groove (2001)[14]
  • A Mythical Metropolis Materializes in Queens (May 20, 2001)[15]
  • The No-Tech Way Toward Art-Making (September 2, 2001)[16]
  • Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World (December 9, 2001)[17]
  • Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966 (January 31, 2011)[18]
  • Edward Kienholz , All – American Yawp (March 2012)[19]
  • L.A.’s Best, 2013—Franklin Sirmans (December 18, 2013)[20]
  • Basquiat and the Bayou (October 25, 2014)[21]
  • Prospect.3: Notes for Now (November 11, 2014)[22]
  • Sterling Ruby (Phaidon Contemporary Artists Series) (October 10, 2016); contributor[23]


  1. ^ a b c "Alumni Profiles". Manhattan Country School. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Sirmans". Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d "Franklin Sirmans – Collaborators – Independent Curators International". Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "PAMM Director Franklin Sirmans on Why Miami Is Primed for a Los Angeles-Style Art Boom". Artspace. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  5. ^ Vazquez, Neil (May 27, 2016). "Franklin Sirmans Caps First Six Months as PAMM Director With Craig Robins Donations". Miami New Times. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "A Space for Everything to Happen Franklin Sirmans with Laila Pedro". The Brooklyn Rail. June 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  7. ^ "Exhibition Schedule". Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  8. ^ Smith, Roberta (January 18, 2002). "ART REVIEW; Out of the Vociferous Planet and in the Orbit of Funk and Hip-Hop". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  9. ^ "Franklin Sirmans » Artpace". Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "PAMM Announces New Director: Franklin Sirmans". Haute Living. September 15, 2015. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  11. ^ "Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966 – The Menil Collection". The Menil Collection. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  12. ^ "Franklin Sirmans: On the Transforming World of Art". Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  13. ^ "Frieze New York: Franklin Sirmans is Channeling Just Above Midtown Gallery and the Pioneering Vision of Linda Goode Bryant". May 2019. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  14. ^ "One Planet Under a Groove". Le Grand Jeu. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Sirmans, Franklin (May 20, 2001). "ART/ARCHITECTURE; A Mythical Metropolis Materializes in Queens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Sirmans, Franklin (September 2, 2001). "ART/ARCHITECTURE; The No-Tech Way Toward Art-Making". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  17. ^ Sirmans, Franklin (December 9, 2001). "ART/ARCHITECTURE; Mapping a New, and Urgent, History of the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  18. ^ White, Michelle (January 31, 2011). Vija Celmins: Television and Disaster, 1964–1966. New Haven, Conn.: The Menil Collection. ISBN 9780300166125.
  19. ^ "Edward Kienholz". Flash Art. October 6, 2015. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  20. ^ "L.A.'s Best, 2013—Franklin Sirmans – Art in America". Art in America. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  21. ^ OMeally, Robert (October 25, 2014). Basquiat and the Bayou. New York: Prestel USA. ISBN 9783791354040.
  22. ^ Gonzalez, Rita; McCay, Mary (November 11, 2014). Prospect.3: Notes for Now. Prestel. ISBN 9783791354033.
  23. ^ Morgan, Jessica; results, search; results, search (October 10, 2016). Sterling Ruby. Phaidon Press. ISBN 9780714870434.