Michael Stanley, the Director of Modern Art Oxford, has died. He was 37.
Stanley joined the gallery in 2009 from Milton Keynes Gallery and was renowned as an energetic, innovative and forward-looking director.
In a statement on its website, the gallery said: “We are deeply saddened to report the death of Modern Art Oxford’s Director, Michael Stanley… He spearheaded an approach that showcased both neglected and established artists, as well as introducing cutting-edge contemporary artists. His approach was sometimes radical, often revelatory and always thought-provoking.”
During his directorship, Stanley created a new gallery space and initiated joint ventures with other Oxford cultural institutions including the Ashmolean, the Old Power Station and the Radcliffe Observatory.
David Isaac, Chair of Modern Art Oxford, said: “We have lost a great talent; our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
There have been many tributes on Twitter to Stanley, who was a regular and valued contributor to a-n magazine in the 1990s and early 2000s. Lisa Le Feuvre, Director, Henry Moore Institute, said: ‘Very tragic news, loss of an individual whose force and dynamism made such a difference.”
Andrew Nairne, Director, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, said: “He was so talented making remarkable shows… I last saw [him] at the superb Jenny Saville Show. Over tea, he discussed the Gallery, as always revealing a rare boldness and originality.”
Helen Pheby, curator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, described him as a “major contributor to British culture”, while Dr Dan Hicks, lecturer and curator at Pitt Rivers Museum and School of Archaeology, Oxford University, said he was “truly brilliant”.
Stanley was director of Milton Keynes Gallery from 2004-2009 where he was responsible for two Turner Prize nominated shows: Phil Collins (2005) and Cathy Wilkes (2008). Prior to joining Milton Keynes he was curator at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2002-2004) where he curated a Turner Prize nominated show by Anya Gallaccio and George Shaw’s acclaimed ‘What I Did This Summer’. From 2000-2002, he was Curator of Art at Compton Verney.
Many more have expressed their sadness and shock at Stanley’s death, including Alison Mynes, Chair, ICA, who said: “Devastating news. A hugely talented and courageous Director.” Sally Tallant, Director, Liverpool Biennial, tweeted: “So terribly shocked and sad to hear of the death of Mike Stanley – I simply cannot believe it. Painfully tragic.”
All at a-n send their condolences and deepest sympathies to Michael Stanley’s family and friends at this sad time.