On Curating – Robert Leonard

Robert Leonard, Senior Curator of the City Gallery, Wellington
Robert Leonard, Chief Curator of the City Gallery, Wellington

“These days curating is show business. But I’m not so sure that shows today are that curatorially extroverted. I don’t see many shows where curators take the lead, where they foreground themselves. Many curators are slaves to their directors, to artists, or both. While I was in Australia, I was surprised by how many big museum shows were conceptualised and driven by directors, with curators (often teams of them) simply tasked to deliver them. On the other hand, with the solo shows with major artists, the artists tended to have veto over everything, so curators didn’t enjoy much freedom there either. I worry that the idea of curators as authors has been downgraded. I’d like to see more extroverted curating.”

From a great interview with Robert Leonard in Ocula.

On Curating – Robert Leonard

On Curating – Lara Strongman

Dr Lara Strongman
Dr Lara Strongman

“Fundamentally I’m a joiner, a door-opener, a conduit of ideas that are worth sharing.  Contemporary curators encounter those ideas in artists’ studios and then, back at the gallery, they advocate for those ideas and their wider importance.  You seek to champion the artists’ ideas and bring them to wider attention through the mechanisms of a gallery. Being a champion, however, isn’t entirely distinct from being a cultural agitator. Part of the curator’s role is working with artists to define problems in the culture – not to solve or create solutions to those problems, but to reframe ways of viewing our situation.”

Christchurch Art Gallery’s new Senior Curator Lara Strongman discusses curation in the latest issue of Bulletin.

On Curating – Lara Strongman

Nick Chambers returns to Australia

Nicholas Chambers
Curator Nicholas Chambers

Nicholas Chambers, currently the the Milton Fine Curator of Art at The Andy Warhol Museum will be returning to Sydney, his home town, this November. After two and a half years at the Warhol Museum, he’s heading back to Australia to take up the role of Senior Curator at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Warhol Museum Director Eric Shiner has confirmed that the institution will soon begin an international search for his successor.

Nick Chambers returns to Australia

On Curating – Hans Ulrich Obrist

Serpentine Gallery co-Director Hans-Ulrich Obrist
Serpentine Gallery co-Director Hans-Ulrich Obrist

“Today, curating as a profession means at least four things. It means to preserve, in the sense of safeguarding the heritage of art. It means to be the selector of new work. It means to connect to art history. And it means displaying or arranging the work. But it’s more than that. Before 1800, few people went to exhibitions. Now hundreds of millions of people visit them every year. It’s a mass medium and a ritual. The curator sets it up so that it becomes an extraordinary experience and not just illustrations or spatialised books.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist discusses the art of curation in The Guardian.

On Curating – Hans Ulrich Obrist

Obrist The Jogger


Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist loves to run.  So much so that he’s founded the Brutally Early Club – a jogging group attended by artists and curators like Marina Abramovic and Markus Miessen.  The club is one example of Obrist’s obsession with rituals, which he discusses in the clip above while jogging through Hyde Park, home to the Serpentine Gallery – his place of work.

Obrist The Jogger

One way to get some cash

Superkaleidoscope's patron callout in this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald
Superkaleidoscope’s patron callout in this weekend’s Sydney Morning Herald

Curatorial collective Superkaleidoscope (co-directed by Australian artists Kim Fasher and Sarah Mosca) has taken an old school approach to supporting artists – they’re looking for patrons.  Each month they’ll select one emerging artist to promote, running an advertisement like the one above on their behalf in the Weekend Business section of the Sydney Morning Herald.  If you think you’re deserving of some patronage, you can make a submission to Superkaleidoscope via email.

One way to get some cash

On Curating – Robert Leonard

Robert Leonard
Robert Leonard, Senior Curator at City Gallery, Wellington as of January 2014

Outgoing IMA Director Robert Leonard was recently interviewed by fellow curator Hannah Mathews for ABC Arts.  You can read the full interview online, but here’s LOL’s fave punchy bit:

“These days many curators talk as if their job is primarily to please artists—to represent and protect their interests. Keeping artists happy is important, but it’s not the only important thing. As a curator, there are times when you work for artists, times when you work alongside them, and times when you work against them. For a curator, it’s important to find opportunities to operate in all these registers. Curators need to be more than just artists’ enablers.”

On Curating – Robert Leonard