6 Amazing Things We Learned From the World’s Most Famous Artworks (artnet news)

Christie Chu, Friday, July 17, 2015 original article here.

Leonardo da Vinci, "Mona Lisa" (1503–1517)

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (1503–1517). Photo: via Wikipedia Commons.

1. The artist’s mystique is as valuable as his technique.
Technique and style count, but mystique is the third crucial component. The most famous artworks of all time all had a bit of intrigue in them. Was the Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci in drag? Was she pregnant? Was she Leonardo’s mother and a Chinese slave? We may never know.

Johannes Vermeer, "Girl With A Pearl Earring" (1665)

Johannes Vermeer, Girl With A Pearl Earring (1665). Photo: via Wikipedia Commons.

2. The best artists are the slow burning ones to popularity.
Johannes Vermeer, the painter of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, and master of light, was vastly underappreciated in his lifetime. It was only after art critic Thophile Thore-Burger published a catalogue on the artist two centuries after his death that his work gained widespread recognition. Having so few artworks in circulation (34), Vermeer is one of the most sought-after masters in the world.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait (1887)Photo via: Wikipedia

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait (1887). Photo: via Wikipedia.

3. As an artist, you will probably be more appreciated once you are dead or in your 80s.
Vincent van Gogh was considered a success only after his death. Twenty years after he passed, there were major retrospectives in Paris, Amsterdam, and important group exhibitions in Cologne, New York, and Berlin. For most of his tragic life, Van Gogh suffererd from a wide array of diseases, both mental and physical. According to artnet’s Price Database, the most expensive work of his at auction reached $82. 5 million in 1990—$30 million above its high estimate.

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D'Avignon (1907). Photo: Wikipedia.

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles D’Avignon (1907). Photo: via Wikipedia.

4.  The most revolutionary works of art are those often dismissed at first.
Pablo Picasso‘s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, arguably the most famous painting by the Spanish artist, was deemed immoral when it was first shown to the artist’s close group of friends. It was painted in 1907 but was only first exhibited in 1916.  It was later sold to Jacques Doucet in 1924 for 25,000 francs, a very low price for a Picasso work at the time. It currently hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This May, the artist’s Les Femme d’Algers (Version “O”) (1955) fetched a record $179.4 million.

Grant Wood, American Gothic, (1930).

Grant Wood, American Gothic, (1930).

5. The world’s most famous art works are by white male artists (no surprise).
The Birth of Venus, Mona Lisa, The Creation of Adam, Las Meninas, Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Third of May, Olympia, Whistler’s Mother, The Basket of Apples, Water Lilies, Starry Night, The Kiss, A Sunday Afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte, American Gothic, The Son of Man, and Autumn Rhythm were all painted by white men.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums, Rome. Photo: Titimaster, via Wikimedia Commons.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums, Rome. Photo: Titimaster, via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Artists nowadays don’t have the kind of discipline they used to have centuries ago.
Let’s get real, would someone devote four years of their life painting the ceiling of a chapel like Michelangelo did in the early 16th century? Probably not. That’s why Renaissance painters are called “masters.”

25 Women Curators Shaking Things Up – Pt. 2 (artnet news)

Tina Kukielski, Curator at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Photo: Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Tina Kukielski, independent curator. Photo: Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

13. Tina Kukielski, independent curator, New York

No less a critic than the New Yorker‘s Peter Schjeldahl called the 2013 iteration of the Carnegie International “strikingly thoughtful,” and Tina Kukielski gets part of the credit, having organized the acclaimed show along with Daniel Baumann and Dan Byers. (See World’s Top 20 Biennials, Triennials, and Miscellennials). She also organized shows there with beloved artists working with new technology, like Cory Arcangel and Antoine Catala, who shows with plugged-in New York gallery 47 Canal. She’s now back in New York, with several projects in the works, including a group show this summer at James Cohan Gallery.

Alejandra Labastida, Associate Curator at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). Photo: frente.com

Alejandra Labastida, associate curator at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC). Photo: frente.com

14. Alejandra Labastida, MUAC (University Museum of Contemporary Art), México

In 2012, MUAC associate curator Alejandra Labastida snagged the prize in Istanbul’s Akbank Sanat International Curatorial Competition for a Gilles Deleuze-inspired show, “The Life of Others: Repetition and Survival,” featuring artists from François Bucher and Tania Bruguera to Artur Zmijewski. Since setting up shop at MUAC in 2008, she’s organized a number of in-house shows while also helping to organize the Mexican pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, in 2011. And she’s not even finished with a master’s degree in art history and curatorial studies at UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de Mexico).

Carol Yinghua Lu, Independent Curator.  Photo: Courtesy of Independent Curators International.

Carol Yinghua Lu, independent curator. Photo: Courtesy of Independent Curators International.

15. Carol Yinghua Lu, independent curator, Beijing

If you loved Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video The Clock, you probably cheered when it won the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale; the artist partly has Beijing-based independent curator Carol Yinghua Lu to thank, since she served on the jury. With Nancy Adajania (see above) and four others, she co-curated the 2012 Gwangju Biennale; she also co-organized the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale in 2012, including art stars like Wang Jianwei, Lee Mingwei, and Zhang Xiaogang. Artistic director and chief curator at OCT Contemporary Art Terminal (OCAT), Shenzhen, a division of the He Xiangning Art Museum, she co-organized with Liu Ding the show “From the Issue of Art to the Issue of Position: Echoes of Socialist Realism,” which is now on view.

Margot Norton, Associate Curator at the New Museum.  Photo: Courtesy of the New Museum; photo by Benoit Pailley.

Margot Norton, associate curator at the New Museum. Photo: Courtesy of the New Museum; photo by Benoit Pailley.

16. Margot Norton, New Museum, New York

Promoted twice since joining the New Museum in 2011, Margot Norton has organized exhibitions including one by Turner Prize-winner Laure Prouvost and the museum solo of Judith Bernstein. She’s been co-curator of an eye-popping litany of exhibitions, from the lauded recent Chris Ofili retrospective (see Chris Ofili’s Glittering, Dung-Encrusted Paintings Return to New York) and the group show “Here and Elsewhere,” devoted to art of the Arab world (see Palestinians and Arabs Hang Tough at the New Museum). The Columbia curatorial MA grad is looking ahead to a survey opening this summer of the late Sarah Charlesworth, who, Brian Wallis wrote in Artforum, “presciently grasped the visual seduction of photographs.”

Heather Pesanti, Senior Curator at Austin Contemporary.  Photo: Courtesy of Austin Contemporary.

Heather Pesanti, senior curator at Austin Contemporary. Photo: Courtesy of Austin Contemporary.

17. Heather Pesanti, Austin Contemporary

The Contemporary Austin is going big with its first large thematic group exhibition, “Strange Pilgrims,” and they’ve placed it in the hands of Heather Pesanti. Focusing on the “immersive, participatory, collaborative and kinetic” and including artists from Charles Atlas and Trisha Baga to Bruce Nauman and Yoko Ono, it opens in September. While at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in Buffalo, New York, Pesanti organized the well-received historical survey “Wish You Were Here: The Buffalo Avant-Garde in the 1970s.”

Susanne Pfeffer, Curator at Fridericianum in Kassel.  Photo: Courtesy of Fridericianum.

Susanne Pfeffer, curator at Fridericianum in Kassel. Photo: Courtesy of Fridericianum.

18. Susanne Pfeffer, Kunsthaus Fridericianum, Kassel

In what’s being called the Post-Internet era, in which images circulate endlessly and authorship is said to be irrelevant, Pfeffer’s 2013-14 show “Speculations on Anonymous Materials” brought together young artists like Alisa Baremboym, Oliver Laric, and Timur Si-Qin. While curator at Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Pfeffer conceived the 2008-09 Hotel Marienbad program, in which artists like Douglas Gordon had a residency in what resembled a hotel room. She’s organized solo shows of figures as varied as outsider artist Joe Coleman (whom no less than Charles Manson called “a caveman in a spaceship”), experimental filmmaker Lutz Mommartz (a film of his was included in the MoMA Polke retrospective), and sculptor Richard Serra. Pfeffer will work with artist Pamela Rosenkranz on the Swiss pavilion at the Venice Biennale, opening this summer (see The 2015 Venice Biennale List of Artists Is Out–See Our Exclusive).

Sara Raza, Guggenheim UBS MAP Curator, Middle East and North Africa.  Photo: Courtesy of the Guggenheim.

Sara Raza, independent curator. Photo: Courtesy of the Guggenheim.

19. Sara Raza, independent curator, London

The Guggenheim Museum is investing big in widening the global reach of its collection, with initiatives in Asia and Latin America as well as the Middle East and North Africa, which is where Sara Raza comes in as the newest two-year curatorial resident. We’ll see her picks at a 2016 show. As for what those might be, we note that she worked with artists including Adel Abidin, Wafaa Bilal and Mohammed Kazem at the Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah when she was adjunct associate curator there; for the 2014 Venice Biennale, she co-curated a show of Saudi Arabian artists at the Venice Biennale, including Heba Abed, Basmah Felemban, and Saeed Salem.

Chen Tamir, Curator at Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv.  Photo: Courtesy of Center for Contemporary Art.

Chen Tamir, curator at Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv. Photo by Yuli Gorodinsky and courtesy of Electronic Beats.


20. Chen Tamir, Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv

The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, calling for cultural boycott of Israeli institutions, has generated copious debate, and CCA Tel Aviv curator Chen Tamir has contributed a report on the phenomenon, published recently by Hyperallergic (see The Cultural Boycott of Israel Isn’t Solidarity, It’s Condescension and Artists for Palestine UK Respond to JJ Charlesworth’s Criticism of the Cultural Boycott of Israel). Besides her brick-and-mortar shows of artists like Amie Siegel and Tamar Harpaz, she’s also commissioned artworks for viewing on mobile devices on the CCA’s wireless network. If you missed her on a panel at the Armory Show recently, you can catch her in upcoming talks at the Vera List Center in New York or at L.A.’s Otis College.

Lumi Tan, Associate Curator at The Kitchen.  Photo: Courtesy of The Kitchen.

Lumi Tan, associate curator at The Kitchen. Photo: Courtesy of The Kitchen.


21. Lumi Tan, The Kitchen, New York

Already a veteran of New York’s Zach Feuer Gallery and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Kitchen associate curator Lumi Tan has organized solo exhibitions of artists ranging from Luke Stettner to Chantal Akerman and produced performances including Danh Vo and Xiu Xiu’s multifarious show “Metal.” Tan is no slouch at the writing desk either, having penned articles for ArtforumFrieze, and The New York Times.

Kelly Taxter, Assistant Curator at the Jewish Museum.   Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish Museum.

Kelly Taxter, assistant curator at the Jewish Museum. Photo: Courtesy of the Jewish Museum.

22. Kelly Taxter, Jewish Museum, New York

Before becoming assistant curator at the Jewish Museum in 2013, Kelly Taxter co-ran Taxter & Spengemann Gallery in New York, for eight years, fostering talents like Xavier Cha and Andrew Kuo (see Andrew Kuo and Scott Reeder Opt for Panda Bear Zodiac Sign on Instagram Video). Taxter must have hit the ground running, as she’s already opened “Laurie Simmons: How We See,” the artist’s first New York museum solo, now on view. Besides that, no museumgoer will be able to miss her projects, as she’s overseeing site-specific works in the lobby, with artists like Willem de Rooij, Chantal Joffee and Valeska Soares on tap.

Stephanie Weber, Curator of Contemporary Art at Lenbachhaus.  Photo: Courtesy of Lenbachhaus.

Stephanie Weber, curator of contemporary art at Lenbachhaus. Photo: Courtesy of Lenbachhaus.

23. Stephanie Weber, Lenbachhaus, Munich

While at MoMA in New York, Stephanie Weber curated a solo show of Mark Boulos and film series of Charles Simonds and Christoph Schlingensief, all the while commissioning performances by Tom Thayer and C. Spencer Yeh and adding to the collection works by Vito Acconci, VALIE EXPORT and Martha Rosler. Since starting at Munich’s Lenbachhaus in September, she’s been hard at work on a retrospective of Polish-born feminist artist Lea Lublin that opens this summer. It includes a thirty-year span of work in various mediums by the Argentine-French artist, who once stole Marcel Duchamp’s mailbox.

Michelle White, Curator.  Photo: Courtesy of the Menil Collection; Photograph by Eric Hester.

Michelle White, curator, Menil Collection. Photo: Courtesy of the Menil Collection; Photograph by Eric Hester.

24. Michelle White, Menil Collection, Houston

White took up her post at the Menil after honing her skills at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; her endeavors have been as varied as projects with the Houston collective Otabenga Jones & Associates (who aim to “teach the truth to the black youth”) and the Richard Serra drawings retrospective that traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among others, Flash Art and Modern Painters have published her writings.

Mika Yoshitake, Assistant Curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Photo: Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Mika Yoshitake, assistant curator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo: Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.


25. Mika Yoshitake, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

As the Hirshhorn’s assistant curator, Yoshitake oversaw the museum’s installation of the traveling show “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” She earned an AICA-USA award for best show in a commercial gallery nationally for “Requiem for the Sun: The Art of Mono-ha” (2012) at Blum & Poe in Los Angeles, which traveled to Gladstone Gallery in New York, and has contributed to other high-profile shows like the Guggenheim Museum’s Lee Ufan retrospective and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’ exhibition © MURAKAMI.






25 Women Curators Shaking Things Up – Pt. 1 (artnet news)

By Brian Boucher, Tuesday, March 17, 2015 original article here.


Amanda de la Garza, curator at MUAC, Mexico City

We all know that, as Beyoncé puts it, girls run the world. That’s arguably especially true in the art world, where many powerful and influential art advisors, auction house specialists and dealers are all women. And then there are the curators, whose exhibitions help us to reassess established figures or bring new ones to light. Curators help build museum collections, or work independently to organize biennials and triennials, and often publish in magazines and journals as part of their portfolio.

Who is the next Helen Molesworth, recently appointed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (see Helen Molesworth Hired as Chief Curator of LA MOCA)? Who might be the future Ann Temkin, who has headed up the department of painting and sculpture at New York’s Museum of Modern Art since succeeding John Elderfield in 2008?

Keep in mind, too, that the road to the director’s office sometimes leads through the curatorial department. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Thomas Campbell, MoMA’s Glenn Lowry, and the Walker Art Center’s Olga Viso all served as curators before taking the helm of their institutions. Heads of major museums tend to be lavishly compensated men, but that’s an issue for another time—see We Asked 20 Women “Is the Art World Biased?” Here’s What They Said (see also The Top 20 Art World Women of 2014 and The Most Powerful Women in Art Part One).

We polled our colleagues far and wide to come up with this roundup of 25 up-and-coming curators to watch, arranged in alphabetical order. (No such list is ever complete, so we also welcome your nominations on our Facebook page.) Maybe you’ll see them heading up a department at a museum near you?

Nancy Adajania, Independent Curator. Photo: www.kalaghodaassociation.com

Nancy Adajania, independent curator. Photo: http://www.kalaghodaassociation.com


1. Nancy Adajania, Independent Curator, Mumbai

Mumbai-based Nancy Adajania has brought her education in political science, social communications media and film to an engagement with contemporary Indian art. She was one of six curators (all women) of “Roundtable,” the ninth Gwangju Biennale in 2012, described as “an open-ended series of collaborations” and including Indian artists like Jangarh Singh Shyam and Sheba Chhachhi. She has lectured all over Europe, at venues like Documenta, in Kassel; the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM), in Karlsruhe; and the Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon.

Katherine Brinson, Curator Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim.  Photo: Courtesy of the Guggenheim.

Katherine Brinson, curator of contemporary art at the Guggenheim. Photo: Courtesy of the Guggenheim.

2. Katherine Brinson, Guggenheim Museum, New York

With a museum-wide Christopher Wool retrospective under her belt, as well as Hugo Boss Prize shows of Hans-Peter Feldmann and Danh Vo, Brinson has earned her seat at the New York Guggenheim, as well as organizing shows at the museum’s Berlin and Bilbao venues. Through her work with the museum’s Young Collectors council, she also bolsters the museum’s collection of emerging artists, bringing in works by artists such as Kevin Beasley, Gerard & Kelly, Agnieszka Kurant, and Adam Pendleton.

Cathleen Chaffee, Curator at Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  Photo: Courtesy of Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Cathleen Chaffee, curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Photo: Courtesy of Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

3. Cathleen Chaffee, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

After stints at the Yale University Art Gallery, MoMA, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Chaffee went to Buffalo in fall 2013, replacing Heather Pesanti (see below). Her new show “Overtime: The Art of Work” (through May 17) deals with artistic conceptions of labor and includes artists from Honoré Daumier and Tehching Hsieh to influential New Yorkers Josh Kline and Agnieszka Kurant. Among those who will be the subjects of upcoming solo shows are Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Joe Bradley, Michael Rakowitz, and Erin Shirreff.

Rachel in Paris

Rachel Cook, associate curator at DiverseWorks. Photo by Naomi Beckwith, courtesy of DiverseWorks.


4. Rachel Cook, DiverseWorks, Houston. 

Sound art is coming into its own institutionally, especially since the 2013 exhibition “Soundings: A Contemporary Score” at New York’s MoMA, and Rachel Cook is part of that wave: her recent DiverseWorks show “SonicWorks” featured artists ranging from locals The Art Guys to New York’s Christine Sun Kim and Pauline Oliveros. Since setting up shop there in 2012, Cook has organized new commissions by artists including Wu Tsang and Liz Magic Laser. She also pitched in on “The Eleventh Hour,” which highlighted presenting politically and socially engaged artists from Rick Lowe to Gorilla Girls Houston and the collective Anti-Trust.

Ruth Estevez,  gallery director and curator, REDCAT, Los Angeles.  Photo: Yvonne Venegas.

Ruth Estevez, gallery director and curator, REDCAT, Los Angeles. Photo: Yvonne Venegas.


5. Ruth Estévez, REDCAT, Los Angeles

Director-curator of visual arts at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT), Bilbao-born Ruth Estevez was previously at Museum of Contemporary Art Carrillo Gil in Mexico City; while in Mexico she co-founded the nonprofit LIGA, Space for Architecture. At REDCAT, she’s worked with artists including Pablo Bronstein, Javier Tellez, and Allora & Calzadilla. Among upcoming projects are “Hotel Theory,” a group show looking at the performance of theory, and, in collaboration with The Getty Institute, a re-staging of a performance piece by the late Argentinian artist León Ferrari, who deployed sculpture and poetry as “revolutionary weapons” against war, political authority and religion.

6. Amanda de la Garza, MUAC, Mexico City

A curator at The University Museum of Contemporary Art since 2012, Amanda de la Garza Mata has organized a Bataille-inspired group show studying the foundation of the modern museum as linked to the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution; a solo devoted to avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas; and, with Julio García Murillo, “Mina 8. Unidad Pasta de Conchos,” an exhibition devoted to a controversial coal mine explosion in northern Mexico. In her free time, she’s part of a collective, Illusory City, that has produced three documentary films on urban issues and helps to edit publications for Tabasco189 Editions, which illuminates links between contemporary art and literature.

Jarrett Gregory, Associate Curator Contemporary Art.  Photo: Courtesy of Museum Associates/Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Jarrett Gregory, associate curator of contemporary art. Photo: Courtesy of Museum Associates/Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)


7. Jarrett Gregory, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

At LACMA since 2011, Gregory organized the recent L.A. iteration of the traveling exhibition of French art star Pierre Huyghe (see Is Pierre Huyghe the World’s Most Opaque Popular Artist? Ben Davis Sizes Up His LACMA Show) as well as shows of Stanley Kubrick and Stephen Prina. In her previous post, at New York’s New Museum, she worked on acclaimed shows like the inaugural triennial, “Younger than Jesus,” and “Ostalgia,” which brought to light lesser-known Eastern European artists, and she’s contributed to magazines like The Believer and Frieze.

Anna Gritz, Curator for Film & Performance at the South London Gallery.  Photo: Courtesy of South London Gallery.

Anna Gritz, curator for film & performance at the South London Gallery. Photo: Agata Madejska, courtesy of South London Gallery.


8. Anna Gritz, South London Gallery

In charge of film and performance at the 124-year-old nonprofit South London Gallery, Anna Gritz is cooking up exhibitions devoted to artists Kapwangi Kiwanga, who draws on academic training for research-based projects, as well as veteran comic performer Michael Smith. After earning an MA in curatorial practice at California College for the Arts, she cut her teeth at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Hayward Gallery, both in London, and ran programs at New York’s apexart. While writing for publications like Mousse and frieze d/e, she’s got exhibitions in the works from Ljubljana to Cologne and Southend-on-Sea, where, with Paul Clinton, she’s organizing a show about stupidity.

Rujeko Hockley, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum.  Photo: Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.

Rujeko Hockley, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.


9. Rujeko Hockley, Brooklyn Museum

Despite being the museum’s assistant curator since just 2012, Hockley has pitched in on shows devoted to LaToya Ruby Frazier, the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and artists from the borough (“Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond”), as well as the current and hotly debated Kehinde Wiley show (through May 24). She’s a veteran of the Studio Museum in Harlem and is, believe it or not, working on a UC San Diego PhD while also serving on panel discussions on Afrofuturism at the Studio Museum, young curators at the School of Visual Arts, and the prison-industrial complex at Neue House.

Jamillah James, Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum.  Photo: Courtesy of the Hammer Museum.

Jamillah James, assistant curator at the Hammer Museum. Photo: Courtesy of the Hammer Museum.

10. Jamillah James, UCLA Hammer Museum

Having held curatorial positions in New York at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Queens Museum before going west to the Hammer, Jamillah James has helped to organize shows there of artists like Mark Bradford and Charles Gaines. She’s also pitching in on programming with Bradford’s nonprofit Art + Practice, which will bring art and social services to L.A.’s Leimert Park neighborhood. She told NY Arts magazine last year that she’s into pop and celebrity culture and appreciates that “it doesn’t take itself too seriously—and I think we can all gain something from that attitude.”

Ruba Katrib, Curator at SculptureCenter.  Photo: Courtesy of SculptureCenter.

Ruba Katrib, curator at SculptureCenter. Photo: Courtesy of SculptureCenter

11. Ruba Katrib, Sculpture Center, New York

Since earning and MA in curatorial studies at the powerhouse training program at CCS Bard in New York’s Hudson Valley, Ruba Katrib has organized US museum debuts for Cory Arcangel and Claire Fontaine, both at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (see The ICA Miami Will Build a New Home). At SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York, she’s helmed projects like the 2014 group show “Puddle, pothole, portal,” co-curated with artist Camille Henrot, and solos of Radamés “Juni” Figueroa, Jumana Manna and others. Her writing has been featured in Artforum, Kaleidoscope, and Mousse, and she’s organizing a group show with her old prof, CCS director Tom Eccles, on Governors Island this summer.

Naima Keith, Associate Curator at the Studio Museum.  Photo: Courtesy of the Studio Museum.

Naima Keith, associate curator at the Studio Museum. Photo: Courtesy of the Studio Museum.

12. Naima Keith, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York

After starting out as an intern at the Studio Museum, Naima Keith returned there in in 2011 as assistant curator, fresh off a stint as curatorial fellow at L.A.’s Hammer Museum, where she assisted with the 2011-12 show “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980.” She’s gotten attention for shows like “The Shadows Took Shape,” looking at contemporary art through the lens of Afrofuturism, and a survey of Charles Gaines, whose works probe “the fraught relationship between a poetics of chance and a politics of radical engagement,” according to Art in America.


Why Banksy Is (Probably) a Woman (Citylab)


by Kriston Capps  Nov 4, 2014 original article here.


Andrew Winning/Reuters


Banksy Does New York, a new documentary airing on HBO on Nov. 17, opens on a bunch of scofflaws trying to jack an inflatable word balloon reading “Banksy!” from the side of a low-rise building in Queens. These hooligans weren’t Banksy. Neither were the police officers who took possession of the piece after the failed heist and denied that it was art. Nor in all likelihood was the silver-haired man who sold $420 worth of Banksy prints for $60 a pop in Central Park, or the drivers who slowly trawled New York streets in trucks tricked out with Banksy’s sculpture, or the accordionist accompanying one of Banksy’s installations. While the film shares a lot of insights about street art, media sensationalism, viral phenomena, and the people who make Banksy possible, it doesn’t cast a light on who Banksy is or what she looks like.

“Banksy hunters” who tracked the elusive artist over the course of her month-long residency last October never caught a glimpse of her—at least, so far as anyone can be sure. Reporters such as Beth Stebner (New York Daily News) and Keegan Hamilton (then with The Village Voice) didn’t find her. That her identity is still secret is an achievement, given her notoriety and marketability.

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy’s shine by “spot-jocking” or straight-up pilfering her work—swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

A scene from Banksy Does New York depicts vandals attempting to make off with the last piece from Banksy’s 31-day residency in New York. (HBO)


This hypothesis is not completely unfounded. Eleven years ago, The Guardian‘s Simon Hattenstone met Banksy in a pub in Bristol. The reporter had his own concerns about identifying Banksy, even early into the artist’s career. (“Nobody here seems to know what he looks like. But they all know him. That is, they know of him. That is, if he is a he.”) Hesitations notwithstanding, Hattenstone was convinced: He wrote that the person he interviewed “looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets.” Your standard bloke.

In the 2010 film Exit Through the Gift Shop, another documentary about street art, Banksy appears as an anonymous figure whose voice is disguised, but who is plainly a man. So that would seem to put the question to rest. Further to the point, the street artist Shepard Fairey referred to Banksy as “he” and “him” throughout an interview with Brian Lehrer the same year. Fairey would be in a position to know, presumably: He’s the closest thing Banksy has to a colleague. Fairey says that Banksy insists on anonymity, in part, to manage his image in the press. “He controls the way his message is put out very carefully,” Fairey says in the interview.

Yet these pieces of evidence confuse rather than clarify the issue. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a classic piece of misdirection. Over the course of the movie, the film’s would-be documentarian, Thierry Guetta, is exposed as a poor filmmaker. Partway through, Banksy takes over the production, turning it into a documentary about the documentarian instead. To complete the meta romp, Guetta, working under the nomme de rue Mr. Brainwash, proceeds to rips off Banksy’s style. All of this means that Fairey, Banksy’s co-conspirator in Banksy’s film, is an unreliable narrator.

Another piece from Banksy’s New York residency. (HBO)


During the very first interview that Banksy gave to The Guardian, another figure was present (“Steve,” Banksy’s agent). Another figure is always present, says Canadian media artist Chris Healey, who has maintained since 2010 that Banksy is a team of seven artists led by a woman—potentially the same woman with long blonde hair who appears in scenes depicting Banksy’s alleged studio in Exit Through the Gift Shop. Although Healey won’t identify the direct source for his highly specific claim, it’s at least as believable as the suggestion that Banksy is and always has been a single man.

“Since there is so much misdirection and jamming of societal norms with Banksy’s work, as well as the oft-repeated claim no one notices Banksy, then it makes sense,” Healey tells me. “No one can find Banksy because they are looking for, or rather assuming, a man is Banksy.”

A Banksy outside the Hustler Club in Hells Kitchen. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)


Part of what makes Banksy’s work so popular is that it doesn’t operate much like street art at all. Think about Invader or Fairey, artists who appear in Exit Through the Gift Shop: Invader’s 8-bit career began with a single “Space Invaders” icon that the artist reiterated endlessly. Fairey’s work started with a stencil of Andre the Giant prefaced by the word “Obey,” again, repeated over and over. While they’re both more like media moguls than graffiti writers today, Fairey and Invader started with the same strategy: to project themselves into public spaces by broadcasting themselves all over it.

That ambition to control a public space through this sort of redundant branding, to make the street your own, is a masculine one—and it’s shared by the overwhelming majority of street artists. In the theater of the public square, graffiti is cousin to cat-calling—which Slate’s Dee Locket smartly explains as the constant effort by men to “create the illusion of dominance in shared public spaces,” specifically by claiming women’s private spaces as their own. Naturally, street art is at best delightful and at worst a nuisance, whereas cat-calling is an intolerable social problem and a legitimate threat to women’s safety. So any comparison between the two only goes so far.

Still from a video graphic mapping Banksy’s October 2013 New York residency. (HBO)


Banksy does Brooklyn. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)


Compared to the highly visible work of Invader or Fairey or dozens of other high-profile street artists, Banksy’s work is different. Girls and women figure into Banksy’s stenciled figures, for starters, something that isn’t true of 99 percent of street art. Banksy’s work has always done more than project “Banksy” ad nauseum. (In fact, a “handling service” called Pest Control exists to authenticate Banksy’s protean projects.) Banksy’s graffiti understands and predicates a relationship between the viewer and the street, something that graffiti that merely shouts the artist’s name or icon over and over (and over and over) doesn’t do.

Maybe it gives Banksy too much credit to say that her work shows a greater capacity for imagining being in someone else’s shoes. (It’s true of her themes of social justice, but it’s also formally true in the way her work anticipates interaction with the viewer.) Andrew Russeth, at the time the editor for Gallerist, the New York Observer‘s art site, finds Banksy’s work lacking in the Banksy Does New York documentary, calling it “art that hits you over the head with its message” and “worst-common-denominator art”—although he had kinder things to say about Sirens of the Lambs, a truck filled with squeaking plush animals. The fine-art world may not love Banksy, but Banksy plainly thinks of herself as part of that world: The New York residency drew on countless tropes from the art world, complete with a wry audio tour guide.

Banksy’s Everything but the Kitchen Sphinx in Queens was dismantled and removed by the owner of an auto-glass shop. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)


“The real show he is running is on the Internet,” says one savvy observer in the documentary. “It’s like the Internet is almost his graffiti wall.” Close: Her graffiti wall. The savvy manipulation of media to make viral art, to make art about virality, makes Banksy an innovator breaking out of a familiar form. In contemporary art today, that’s a feminine trait: The best selfie artists are women, for example. So are the artists leading the Post-Internet art world.

Given how many men rip off Banksy in Banksy Does New York—watch the film to meet the utterly vampiric art dealer Stephan Keszler, if for no other reason—it’s only fitting to presume that Banksy is a woman. Women experience the street in a different way than men do. Women experience the art world in a different way than men do. Love her or hate her, Banksy is putting herself at the intersection of the street and the art world. Why would anyone expect that position to be occupied by a man?

Works by Banksy titled Kate Moss 2005 appear in a 2009 auction. (Andrew Parsons/Reuters)


What most street art looks like. (HBO)




Gender Roles in Popular culture as seen by Colin Stokes (movies)

I always impress on my students to view artwork (this includes films) not just from the gender they are born with but to try on “another pair of shoes” and attempt to see it as the opposite sex as well as examine who the audience is meant to be. I love Colin Stokes‘ take on a few films that are staples of our culture. Check out his blog here. Try the Bechdel Test on the next movie you watch!