Art Shocker

Gary Tinterow lures his celebrity pals to MFAH, including close confidant . . . Dr. Ruth

Gary Tinterow lures his celebrity pals to MFAH, including. . . Dr Ruth

Gary Tinterow, MFAH, August 2012
Gary Tinterow kicks off his new Conversations series with art legend Jeff Koons. Photo by F. Carter Smith
Jeff Koons, artist, 2010
Koons will discuss his longstanding fascination with Pablo Picasso, highlighting pieces at the MFAH's Picasso Black and White show. CarType.com
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The Dr. Ruth Westheimer will chat with Tinterow on June 4. Photo by Marianne Rafter
MFAH, Picasso, Head of a Horse
Picasso Black and White is on view through May 27. Photo courtesy of © 2013 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Gary Tinterow, MFAH, August 2012
Jeff Koons, artist, 2010
Dr. Ruth Westheimer
MFAH, Picasso, Head of a Horse

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston director Gary Tinterow will be hosting a new on-stage conversation series starring an impressive — and rather surprising — lineup of cultural figures.

Conversations with the Director kicks off April 23 with legendary artist Jeff Koons, who will discuss his longstanding fascination with Pablo Picasso, an appropriate topic given both Tinterow's expertise on the Spanish master as well as the MFAH's current Picasso Black and White show.

"Jeff is a very perceptive observer of art and was particularly taken by the Black and White exhibit when it was at the Guggenheim in New York," Tinterow tells CultureMap.

"We're hoping that each new installment can be a highly-anticipated event for the Houston and its art lovers."

"So much of what Jeff makes has these embedded references to the art came before him and as well as to the contemporary culture around us. He tends to be very attuned to artists and their practice and should be able to give a unique read on Picasso."

Not to diminish Koons' important contributions to American contemporary art, but get this . . . Dr. Ruth — yes, the Dr. Ruth — has signed on as the guest for the second installment of Conversations on June 4.

Tinterow first met the iconic sex therapist nearly 20 years ago and explains that the two have remained friends ever since.

"I really cherish our friendship and absolutely love exchanging ideas with her," he says. "I even had a chance to (feature) her a bit with The Art of Arousal [1993], in which she interprets the great images of Western art through a lens of sociology and human sexuality."

While the director says several more notable figures are booked for the series, which he hopes to stage roughly four times a year, he's planning to keep them a surprise for the time being.

"It's exciting to start this project with such great colleagues and friends," he says. "We're hoping that each new installment can be a highly-anticipated event for the Houston and its art lovers."

Tickets for the Koons event, which go on sale April 9, include a private viewing of Picasso Black and White prior to and following the discussion. Prices are $15 for students, $25 for MFAH members and $35 for the general public.