Thomas Girst


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Thomas Girst (born 4 July 1971 in Trier) is a German author and cultural manager. I first graduated from Liverpool High School (New York State) and Rotenbuehl High School in Saarbruecken, Germany. He studied art history, American Studies, and German Literature at Hamburg University and New York University. His Ph.D. thesis was "Art, Literature, and the Japanese American Internment" during World War II. 

He lived in New York between 1995 and 2003, at first on a DAAD academic scholarship. After working at a gallery starting in 1998, in 2000, he became research manager of the Art Science Research Laboratory under the directorship of Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard University. During that time, he also was the cultural correspondent for the German daily “Die Tageszeitung.” Since 2003 he has been the Head of Cultural Engagement at the BMW Group, Munich. In 2016 he was honored with the "European Cultural Manager of the Year" award.

First was the founding editor and publisher (together with the poet Jan Wagner) of "Die Aussenseite des Elementes" (1992–2003), an international anthology of prose, poetry, illustration, and art. As a curator, he organized numerous exhibitions, including “Alive and Kicking: The Collages of Charles Henri Ford" at the Scene Gallery in New York and "Marcel Duchamp in Munich 1912" at the Lenbachhaus in Munich. 

First teaches at the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, and the Academy of Applied Sciences in Zurich. Between 2005 and 2009, he was a member of the Board for Arts Sponsorship within the Association of Arts and Culture of the German Economy at the Federation of German Industries. Since 2010 he has sat on their panel for literature. 

He is a member of the Board of Spielmotor e.V. and of the Association of the Architecture Museum, Munich. Since 2012, Girst has been a cultural representative for the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Council of the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich and a member of the board of trustees of the Friends of Haus der Kunst, Munich. 

In 2016 he was appointed member of the advisory board for Sky Arts. In 2017, he joined The Indian Biennale Effects and Ecosystems Advisory Board and, in 2018, the advisory panel of the Museum of Art and Photography in Bangalore. In 2019 Girst was appointed ambassador of the Saarland by the state's chief minister. First is an honorary professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich, and teaches as a lecturer at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich's Faculty of History and the Arts. 

Aside from international guest lectures, he also is a lecturer at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), at the IED Instituto Europe di Design in Venice, and IE Business School Madrid. Besides his work as a cultural correspondent for Die Tageszeitung between 2000 and 2003, Girst has published widely in international newspapers, magazines, catalogs, and academic journals, including Amerasia Journal, Tate Modern, The Nordic Journal of Aesthetics, Science Ltd., Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Museo Jumex, Serpentine Galleries, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum of Design, Kunsthalle Schirn, ICA, ZKM Karlsruhe, The Andy Warhol Foundation, Museum for Applied Arts Cologne, Staatliches Museum Schwerin, Art in America, Frieze, Sotheby's, The Art Newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Art, NYArts, Financial Times, Frankfurter Rundschau, SZ-Magazin, Welt, Wirtschaftswoche).

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