Remembering Alumnus Maurice Berger: Path-Breaking Art Historian and Fierce Advocate for Social Justice

The Graduate Center community is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of alumnus Maurice Berger (Ph.D. ’88, Art History), a widely admired curator, cultural historian, writer. Berger died this week at age 63 from complications of COVID-19.

Berger held the position of chief curator and research professor at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In a remembrance, UMBC called him, “A path-breaking art historian and curator, … a fierce advocate for social justice, and an exceptionally caring human being. Through his exhibitions and writings, he compelled us to look honestly at issues of race, inequity, and their representations in visual culture.”

Berger was the author of 11 books, including White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness; For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights; and Revolution of the Eye: Modern Art and the Birth of American Television. He wrote for a range of publications, including Artforum, National GeographicVillage VoiceBrooklyn RailPEN America, and Wired.

In 2018, his monthly column, Race Stories, for the Lens section of The New York Times was awarded the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research. He was also the recipient of major awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and others.
A native New Yorker, Berger was a graduate of Hunter College and received his Ph.D. in art history and critical theory from The Graduate Center where he studied with Rosalind Krauss.

Berger had a long association with The Jewish Museum in New York, where he curated numerous exhibitions. Berger was remembered by the museum as “a valued colleague and friend of the Museum who passionately demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship and intellectual integrity. His work on race relations, American and Jewish culture, and his belief in making exhibitions and the written word meaningful and accessible for everyone, inspired, challenged, and encouraged so many in the curatorial profession — and beyond.”
Berger is survived by his husband, Marvin Heiferman. 

More About Maurice Berger (Ph.D. '88, Art History)

Art Forum obituary

LA Times obituary

Remembering Maurice Berger,” UMBC Community News

The Jewish Museum Remembers Maurice Berger (1956–2020),” Medium

Submitted on: MAR 26, 2020

Category: Alumni News | Art History | COVID-19 | GCstories | General GC News