The Society of the Four Arts has found a new president and CEO in Dr. Philip Rylands, who will begin on September 16, 2019. After an international search, Rylands was carefully selected to help The Four Arts further its mission to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity of the arts, and to enhance the rich and diverse cultural experience for visitors.
Rylands succeeds Dr. David Breneman, who is retiring to Charlottesville, VA and has been President since January 1, 2015. Rylands was a founding director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and served most recently as its Director Emeritus. His leadership guided the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to become a landmark institution of global cultural significance. Rylands joined the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation as administrator of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, taking responsibility for the operations and development of Peggy Guggenheim’s house and collection following her death in 1979. In 1986 he became the deputy director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, in 2000 its director, and in 2007 the Guggenheim Foundation’s director for Italy, reporting to the director of the Guggenheim Foundation in New York.
“Philip Rylands’s vision for the future of The Four Arts is aligned with the board’s strategic priorityto continue to strengthen the organization’s programs. We are fortunate to secure a president with such a track record of success on an international level,” said Dr. Randolph “Bob” Guthrie, chairman of the board of trustees. “Philip not only has a deep knowledge of art and culture, but also is the right person to harness our personnel and technology resources, leading us along the path of a cultural center that will remain relevant through the 21st Century.”
Following Breneman’s retirement announcement last summer, The Four Arts Board of Trustees appointed a six-person member committee to workalongsidePhillips Oppenheim, one of the world’s leading executive search firms. The committee reviewed a number of excellent candidates from across the globe.
“My career has focused on educational programming at global organizations, and my deepest passion for museums is the important role they play within the community and in an individual’s personal education and enlightenment,” said Rylands. “I am incredibly impressed with what The Four Arts has accomplished in service to the community in its 83-year history and its ability to offer more than 500 programs a season. I’m thrilled to work with the board and the talented staff to shepherd The Four Arts through its next phase.”
Rylands guided the evolution and substantial growth of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The 18th-century palazzo that houses that collection has been converted and restored; the museum’s exhibition and administrative spaces adjacent to the palazzo have been doubled; and an annual exhibition program has been developed, both in Venice and elsewhere (since 1985). He is known for his leadership of nonprofit education organizations, setting and achieving programming and financial goals. His 45-year nonprofit background also included work as a project manager at the American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (1986-2017), and a project secretary at the International Torcello Committee and the International Oratorio dei Crociferi Committee (both 1978-1984).
Career highlights include such prestigious exhibitions as Jackson Pollock at the Gallerie dell’Accademia(1984) and Masterpieces of Futurism at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection(2009), among many others. He has lectured at the University of Maryland European Division (1974-1981) and was associate distinguished professor at the University of Virginia School of Architecture (1998-2000). In addition, he has occasionally lectured at University of Venice, University of Kenticky, Rhode Island School of Design, and New York University. His publications include Restoring Venice: The Church of the Madonna dell’Orto(1976), Flying the Flag for Art: The United States and the Venice Biennale, 1895–1991(1993, with Enzo Di Martino), Peggy Guggenheim and Frederick Kiesler: The Story of Art of This Century(ed. with Susan Davidson, 2004), and Afro (ed., 2018).
Philip Rylands holds a Ph.D. in Art History from King’s College at the University of Cambridge (1974-1981), and an B.A. and M.A. with honors in History and History of Art from King’s College at the University of Cambridge (1969-1972).
Dr. Rylands and his wife, Jane, will live seasonally in Palm Beach and Venice.
Read more in the Palm Beach Daily News.