Curators carry a lot of chips in the art world. These highly trained professionals know the ins and outs of mounting exhibitions and they wield the power to launch an artist’s career. Around the world there are well-known curators moving at the top of the field in every major art hub. In each city you will find a hot list of who’s who in the field of curating. Today we bring you ten of the top curators in London right now. These are names to know if you have designs on breaking into the London arts scene. They work for the top museums and galleries in London and, while you may not find your work hanging in their spaces tomorrow, knowing their names is a critical piece of your professional responsibility.
1. Hans Ulrich Obrist: If this name sounds familiar, it may be because we featured him in our post about the top curators in the world. It may also be because Obrist is simply one of the top curators in the world today and his name bears repeating. He is a historian, artist, critic, curator, and the artistic director of The Serpentine Galleries, one of London’s best known and respected galleries.
2. Rozsa Zita Farkas: This lecturer at University of the Arts London is now the founding director at Arcadia Missa, an arts organization in three parts. Arcadia Missa is one part gallery, one part publishing house, and one part curatorial project.
3. Fatos Ustek: Not only is Fatos Ustek an independent curator and founder of Nowiswhere Contemporary Art Magazine, she also has a hand in many other influential projects. Ustek is curator for Art Night 2017, an annual London art event in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery, London and Unlimited Productions.
4. Ben Vickers: In the 21st century, it is no secret that the online world holds almost as much legitimacy (sometimes more) as the real world does. Ben Vickers is top of his field in the world of online art curating. He is the digital curator for London’s Serpentine Galleries. He also helps run LIMAZULU Project Space, and is very active in the world of art and social media.
5. Gabrielle Finaldi: Presently, Finaldi is the director of the National Gallery in London. He has spent his career curating around the world as well as writing about artists such as Velasquez and Picasso. He is also a historian, holding a doctorate in 17th century Spanish Baroque painting with a focus on painter Jusepe de Ribera.
6. Iwona Blazwick: Once an independent curator working for museums across Europe and Asia, Blazwick is currently the director of Whitechapel Art Gallery in London’s East End. This gallery boasts an exhibition history that includes the likes of Rothko, Picasso, and Pollack. Blazwick is the former director of AIR Gallery and an appointee to the Order of the British Empire for services in art. Blazwick studied Fine Art at Exeter University and was mentored by Sandy Nairne, former director of the National Portrait Gallery.
6. Ralph Rugoff: This American curator is responsible for helping London’s Hayward Gallery stand on its own rather than play second fiddle to Tate Modern. Prior to his curatorship at Hayward, Rugoff was director of California College of the Arts Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art. He has also published numerous works on art and artists as well as being the recipient of the 2005 Ordway Prize from the Penny McCall Foundation in the category of arts writer/curator.
7. Sir Nicholas Serota: The present director of Tate Galleries in London, Serota’s CV reads like a who’s who list of England’s most respected art museums. He was director at the MoMA in Oxford as well as Whitechapel Gallery in London. He is also Chair of the Arts Council England and has in the past served as chairman of the Turner Prize committee.
8. Lauren Parker: Once the director of London’s revered Victoria and Albert Museum, today Lauren Parker is the Senior Commissioning Curator for the Museum of London. She is also the founder of Lauren Parker and Associates, a curatorial agency and is an acting director for the creative agency, Caper. Parker received her M.A. in English Language and Literature from Cambridge.
9. Anthony Spira: The current director of the Milton Keynes Gallery in London, Spira has also served as curator at Whitechapel Gallery. He has a degree in art history from Bristol University and studied Museuology back in London.
These are only a handful of the many movers and shakers in the London Art Scene. Knowing their names is the first step toward finding a niche in this particular place. It can easily be argued that, whether you are in London or not, the ability to speak knowledgeably about those at the top of your field is always an asset. London is a global hub of art and culture with the entire spectrum of art on view across its many well-known and highly respected galleries and museums. Just like in any field, it is up to you as a professional to familiarize yourself with the larger world in which you operate. Stay tuned for future posts about influential names in cities around the world.