James N. Wood, President of the Getty Trust, Dies at 69
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: June 14, 201
James N. Wood, who was the director of the Art Institute of Chicago for 25 years and took over as president and chief executive of the Getty Trust in Los Angeles in 2006, helping to steer it through a turbulent period, died Friday at his home in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He was 69 and also had a home in Bristol, R.I.
The J Paul Getty Museum, via Associated Press
James N. Wood
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Mr. Wood died of natural causes, the trust said, but no cause of death was announced.
In his years at the Chicago institute, Mr. Wood became one of the most respected museum leaders in the country, overseeing an expansion of its world-class collection, renovations of all its departments, the construction of a new wing and the initial planning for a second addition.
He also helped conceive well-regarded exhibitions — a Monet retrospective in 1995 and a van Gogh and Gauguin show in 2001 — that broke attendance records for the museum.
Before taking over the Art Institute, he was the director of the St. Louis Art Museum for six years. He also held positions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo
Mr. Wood was the first person with a deep background in art and museum administration to serve as president of the Getty Trust since its formation in 1982. He succeeded Barry Munitz, a businessman and former chancellor of the California State University system, who had resigned under pressure after eight years amid growing criticism of his leadership and questions about his use of the trust’s money.
Under Mr. Wood, the trust — which oversees the J. Paul Getty Museum and three other arms, for conservation, research and philanthropy — was seen as having restored its reputation. Mr. Wood moved aggressively to streamline the organization of the trust, leading to layoffs and the elimination of dozens of positions. During the recession, he instituted deep cuts in the Getty’s operating budget that led to salary cuts and further layoffs.
In January, Michael Brand, the museum’s director, announced that he was resigning. Several museum officials and others in the art world with knowledge of the situation said that Mr. Brand’s departure came about because of sharp differences with Mr. Wood over the museum’s direction, specifically over the control of money for acquiring art.
James Nowell Wood was born March 20, 1941, in Boston. He received his undergraduate degree in art history from Williams College and his master’s from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.
He is survived by his wife, Emese Forizs, an art historian and painter; two daughters, Rebecca Breen and Lenke Moscarelli; and three grandchildren.
Mr. Wood was mentioned through the years as a leading candidate for the director’s post at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Instead, he chose to stay at the Art Institute until his retirement in 2004.
When he agreed to take the post at the Getty Trust, he told The New York Times he considered the previous two years a kind of “extended vacation,” one that he had assumed would continue a lot longer. But he said of the new position: “I feel extremely grateful. It’s a totally unexpected opportunity.”