Often in the art world, curators are king (and queen). They are the influential captains at the helm deciding who gets exhibited where. Finding yourself in the gaze of one of these heavy hitters can literally be career making. Because of this, as an artist working in today’s landscape, there are curators you need to be familiar with. As with every field, a lot depends on who you know—or simply know of. While you may not be able to just get your art in front of a big time curator right now, it is important to begin to build their names into your vocabulary. Networking can close the gaps between you as an artist and the people who can help launch you into the world. There are curators for virtually every art niche out there from women in abstract expression to Latin American roots. It’s all a matter of finding out which curators operate in your particular area of art expertise. And we have rounded up Ten of the top art curators out there right now.
1. Hans Ulrich Obrist: Zurich-born Olbrist began curating in his kitchen (you read that right) at the age of 23. These days, he is a giant in the field. As artistic director at London’s Serpentine Galleries, co-editor of the art revue Cahiers d’art, and author of his own Interview Project in which he has recorded nearly 2,000 interviews to date, Olbrist has been called “the curator who never sleeps” by New Yorker Magazine. Brainard Carey also interviewed him for Yale University radio.
2. Massimilliano Gioni: By age 30, Manhattan-based curator Massimilliano Gioni was co-director of the Venice Biennale. His work has found its way to Tate Modern, among other venues. He is artistic director at the New Museum in New York City.
3. Thelma Golden: One of the two originators of the term “Post-Blackness,” Thelma Golden grew up in Queens and cut her teeth while still in high school as curatorial apprentice at the Met. She has curated at such venerable museums as the Whitney Museum of American Art, and these days she is director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
4. Paul Schimmel: This former chief curator for Los Angeles MOCA is known for his philosophy that artists, not curators, should take the lead. Following his MOCA tenure he partnered with Swiss based gallery Hauser & Wirth going on to open Hauser, Wirth, & Schimmel in Los Angeles in 2016.
5. Gwen Chanzit: For over 30 years, Gwen Chanzit taught at University of Denver. She serves as curator of modern and contemporary art at Denver Art Museum (DAM) and recently mounted an unprecedented exhibition of Women in Abstract Expressionism.
6. Amanda Hunt: During her brief time at Harlem’s Studio Museum, Hunt has already made a name for herself with the show “A Constellation” which featured work depicting African diasporic history. Before Moving to Harlem, she shook things up at LAXART in Los Angeles.
7. David Moos: A former curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Birmingham Museum of Art, David Moos now heads up David Moos Art Advisory. In addition to this he is a contributing editor at two publications, Art Papers and Art Us. The Canadian comes from an art curation dynasty. His father, Walter Moos, was an influential art curator in Toronto.
8. Selene Preciado: Her career has found her as curator in places like the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, and MOCA in Los Angeles. Presently Preciado works as a program assistant for the Getty Foundation, the Los Angeles based foundation for preserving and continuing visual arts.
9. Piper Marshall: Mary Boone, a New York City art magnate, plucked Piper Marshall from her Ph.D. program at Columbia to curate six shows in her uptown and downtown NYC galleries. At just 30 years old, Marshall is already a force to be reckoned with in the world of art curation.
10. Okwui Enwezor: In 2014, this New York and Munich-based curator was named the 24th most powerful person in the art world. He is adjunct curator for the International Center of Photography in New York, a fellow at Whitney Museum of American Art, and director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. In 2013, the Nigerian born Enwezor was appointed the first African born curator of the Venice Biennale.
There you have it. Some of the art world’s most influential curators who should without a doubt be on your short list of people to meet one day. There are many more out there and we’ve got you covered, more will be coming. Keep an eye on this blog for future round ups of high flying curators around the globe. As with every field, the art world is built on networking. Remember the famous phrase, “it’s not about what you know it’s about who you know.”