Ulysses Grant Dietz
Chief Curator Emeritus, The Newark Museum, New Jersey
Private Eye: How a Curatorial Vision Influenced a Personal Collection
The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, CT
Monday, May 20, 2024
date and time TBD
From 1980 until 2017 Ulysses Dietz collected ceramics for the Newark Museum—covering a wide range of periods and types—with a specialty in art pottery and studio ceramics. He was pretty much a tabula rasa when he got to Newark from Winterthur, and quickly focused on the idea of ceramics as art—a notion that bridged the Arts & Crafts movement into the Contemporary Craft Movement of the post-WWII period. He didn’t collect much for himself; but after 37 years, he realized that he actually had a modest collection of ceramics that was absolutely shaped and inspired by the collecting he did for the museum. This talk will be a personal look at what he bought for Newark, what he ended up owning, and how his development of a curatorial eye shaped what he acquired for myself.
Ulysses Grant Dietz served as curator of Decorative Arts at The Newark Museum from 1980 until 2017 and was appointed Chief Curator in 2012. He received his BA in French from Yale University in 1977, and his MA in American Material Culture from the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in 1980.
As the curator of 115 exhibitions covering all aspects of the decorative arts from colonial to contemporary, he studied and collected furniture, silver, base metals, glass, ceramics, textiles, and jewelry. He is particularly proud of his work on the Museum’s National Historic Landmark Ballantine House, built in1885. The Ballantine House was reinterpreted between 1992 and 1994 with a groundbreaking installation called House & Home.
Mr. Dietz has published numerous articles on decorative arts, drawn from the Newark Museum’s nationally known collections. His most recent publications are Masterpieces of Art Pottery, 1880-1930, from the Newark Museum in 2009, and Dream House: The White House as an American Home, released in September 2009 by Acanthus Press in New York. His last book as curator was Jewelry from Pearls to Platinum to Plastic, published in 2017.
Mr. Dietz is a great-great grandson of Ulysses and Julia Grant. His is a trustee of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University, and of the Society of Presidential Descendants.