We are deeply saddened that Michael Rush, the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU and award-winning curator, author, and critic, died March 27, 2015 after a courageous two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Having arrived at MSU in late 2010, he was deeply involved in the completion of the 47,000 sq. ft. Zaha Hadid designed building and the 45-million-dollar building campaign. He was co-founder of the Contemporary Art Museum Directors Association and previously served as Founding Director of the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art from 2000-2004, and as Director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University from 2005-2009, where he oversaw a significant collection of modern and contemporary art. Rush was widely recognized for his leadership in response to Brandeis’ controversial attempt to sell the Rose’s collection and close the art museum.
Among Rush’s numerous books are the pioneering and widely translated Video Art (2004, fully revised 2nd edition 2007), New Media in Art (2005), and New Media in Late 20th-Century Art (2001), all published by Thames and Hudson. Other publications include Hans Hofmann: Circa 1950 (2009), Marjetica Potrc: Urgent Architecture (2003), and monographs on artists Gunther Brus, Steve Miller, and Alexis Rockman. Rush was also a contributing writer to the catalogue of the full media collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and has received awards from the International Association of Art Critics for curatorial projects ranging from international surveys of media art (Balance and Power: Performance and Surveillance in Video Art; Video Jam), painting, and sculpture, as well as monographic exhibitions on artists such as Sue Williams. He curated the opening exhibitions of the Broad MSU, including In Search of Time and Global Groove1973/2012, along with specially commissioned works from artists including Inigo Manglano-Ovalle and Marjetica Potrc, and an interactive opening day project with alternative sites and museums in five countries.
Rush’s internet radio program, Rush Interactive, on Art International Radio, is broadcast to listeners around the world. The show, on which Rush hosts interviews and panel discussions, has featured scores of artists, including Joan Jonas, Martha Rosler, Omer Fast, Richard Maxwell, Terence Koh, Dana Schutz, Grayson Cox, and Jill Magid. Since the early 1990’s had contributed regularly to numerous publications including Art in America, Art on Paper, The New York Times, artext, and Bookforum, among others. Rush has also lectured on art and museum practice around the world, including at universities throughout the U.S., and centers in Great Britain, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Spain, among others.
Prior to his work in the art museum field, Rush was for several years an experimental theater artist, founder of New Haven Artists’ Theater, and long associated with New York’s LaMaMa ETC. His theater projects, including works inspired by Picasso, Duchamp, Samuel Beckett and Jasper Johns, travelled internationally. His multi-part work, based on Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” and his staging of the Samuel Beckett/Jasper Johns collaboration “Foirades/Fizzles” received wide attention. Early in his career, he was a Jesuit priest and psychologist, serving at Bellevue Hospital and on the faculty of psychiatry at New York University after receiving his Doctorate from Harvard University in 1980.