Thursday, July 19, 2012

curators of the world: curate!

Nancy Spector, of the Guggenheim, speaking, and curators listening at a training program in Manhattan


fresh from the new york times. if you love art and need a dependable & reputable profession this is your opportunity:
While not exactly lucrative —the most recent snapshot by the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the estimated mean salary of a curator, broadly defined, in the United States at $53,540 — the profession has grown rapidly in cachet. The word itself has seeped into the language, a little too deeply. (“Curate your Facebook profile like you curate your life,” a social media blog counseled recently.) 
lucrative is a matter of perception. cachet is future money. in today's world of arthoodication curators are the jobbers between cultural commodities and the public. let's call E the display of art commodities within a particular context (exhibition spaces, gallery, museum, etc). curators are entrusted with two fundamental tasks:

1- the "production" of E (arrange, organize, negotiate & manage)
2- researching & conceptualizing E as culture production in the form of a catalog essay
3- 1 + 2 bring the arthoodication of E  

because curators conceptualize and advocate the cultural side, they keep the most cachet (better being with the art side than the profit side, i.e, dealers, gallerists, etc).
And while the term “independent curator” is misleading — curators are usually attached to institutions or programs, if only temporarily — the example of itinerant curators who have become art-world celebrities in recent years, like Okwui Enwezor, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Neville Wakefield, has had an effect.
see how cachet and "independence" appear as directly proportional. the "itinerant" plays the game as having no ties with institutions. being "outside" the system carries the most prestige. but are they really federal reserve material?

they still have to produce E for the same institutions that hire their services*.

let's defer all these compromising topics for now. who doesn't want the best part of the show?
“This whole phenomenon is really a post-millennium thing,” said Kate Fowle, a longtime British curator who took over as the executive director of Independent Curators in 2009 after working for a year as the curator of a new art center in Beijing. “It’s a profession growing at a very, very fast rate.” 
a new development. art curating now rivals anthropology in the exploration of that intractable cipher of the geisteswissenschaften: understanding
Ms. Spector spoke about the difficulties of “grappling with the authority” of the Guggenheim’s architecture (“I sometimes think that I can’t install in a square room anymore”), but also, more extensively, about the dangers of the “helicopter model of international curating,” which too often leads to superficial understanding of cultures and their art — and to bad shows, she said.
you don't believe me?
Emilia Galatis, a curator from Perth, Australia, who spent part of last year in the desert meeting aboriginal artists, said that visiting New York and talking to curators from around the world underscored for her how far off the radar of contemporary art aboriginal art remains, and how narrow the focus of the curatorial field can be despite its size.
imagine all this new blood ready to do as they're told, the breed that will take arthoodication to its vertex. jeffrey deitch's dream come true:  
The market place has become so dynamic, and the media coverage of the market place is now getting so good, that the market place itself is creating the critical consensus ...You have now ten thousand people following these auction results very closely, even artists. The market place is now communicating in a broader, more specific way than art magazines and art critics."**
curators of the world: curate!  
*the typical paradigm of the representatives of the SYSTEM: in order to represent THE PEOPLE, they "appear" as independent, yet, in order to keep their duties and office, they need to make concessions to corporate interests. ** Gilda Williams, "Interviews with Jeffrey Deitch", Flash Art (Summer 1990) p. 169.


Anonymous said...

Right on the money Triff. And this point is not discussed more in publications that explain what curators do. It is as if it is normal to accept these conflicts.

Anonymous said...

what does a world without curators looks like?

Tomas Sessa Stavel said...

All common sense but I didn't know that it was growing so rapidly. Now I realize that anyone who arranges anything in a commercial space has "curated it." That's why it's supposedly growing so fast, people see it as an easy way to play a role. "I curated the counter top today, the Kleenex is now here and the Ocean Drive magazines are there."

Anonymous said...

Curators are essential to keep the art world moving, since they are basically like the managers of artwork. They may be in charge of galleries, library, museums, or other institutions. This career is actually really interesting because it is almost like being a band manager; it is your job to display the talents in the best light. For art lovers this career is great. Most jobs in the arts aren't lucrative but curators are actually well off, by doing an innovative, creative, and passion filled job. It is great to see that there is an appreciation for what curators are doing. Art should not be taken for granted.
-Natalie Mecklenburg

Sean Boisselle said...

PHI2010 Extra Credit Assignment:

"Curators of the world: curate!"

I have never much thought of this profession before, but it seems very interesting. From what I understand, the curator is like a gatekeeper to a large castle; or in less medieval terminology, like a fully-armed, privately-contracted security guard to a Fortune 500 Company's headquarters. They hold the keys and have the connections to pure expressions of cultural talent. And they, in a way, help to define culture.

There is no doubting that art, a form of media, acts as a social catalyst. Telling someone about the negative effects of child abuse will not be as impactful as showing someone a skillfully researched and carefully prepared painting, and making a critique of it and breaking down its various components.

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

In fact... all media could be used as methods of creating a lasting change in society for the better, in many capacities; utilitarian, ethical, epistemological, etc. A curator should not be in the profession for the love of money, but for the love of the intrinsic value of art. Ars gratis artis... one of the first latin phrases I learned in latin class, (and one of the few that sticks with me to this day.) "Art for the sake of art."

Just like happiness or freedom has intrinsic value, art also has intrinsic value AND instrumental value. We love it because we love it, but some love it because they like to put it on their wall, or their table, or in some way decorate their lives... One thing can be said, beautifying something can never be a negative thing (provided it doesn't involve moral injustices). So, then, curators are in the business of beautification. Beautification of the mind, and beautification of the physical realm. What a beautiful occupation it is!

Natasha Samson said...

Curators oversee collection, such as artwork and historic items, and many conduct public service activities for an institution.I like old ancient collection of art, the art from the pass means to much of where we come from, or who created things we never could of think of doing.Curators hold many history and document, which one day I hope to see, I like art,all the colors and pattern, also the shapes are so creatives. Now putting all these terms into one can create a picture so wonderful to one day become a picture in are future history. Today curated have a big organization which i research about called "Association of Art Museum Curators" an organization that recognition of excellence with the field and remote research, scholarship, networking and mentoring opportunities through travel grants. Art is a big thing that shows human creative skill and imagination.

lauradelgado said...

PHI2010 Extra Credit Assignment:

Laura Delgado

This is could be good but there is always room for error. The market can manipulate the art. Are you in it for its integrity or for the salary? If you're in for it genuienly, you can be at risk of losing your freedom due to your ties with the institutions that hired your services. What are the implications this profession has on the future of art? If it is to become a profession should there be standards to meet to become a curator? Could it be maipulated by the market? The main concern to me here is the art.

Jocelyn said...

Most would agree art is a form of expression of that humans have a need for. We enjoy portraying our perceptions of things through a canvas painting or a sculpture ect. but now a days curators, art managers, are climbing up the annual salary charts. It's interesting because it seems that curators can seek out what there audience(customer)wants or considers art. I feel that the media can manipulate the interests/wants of the people by constantly exhibiting what they please or is it that we are genuinely interested in art? Could it be a new trend set out by the media to buy art and collect art because it "in"? As an art fanatic I would hope not but now a days you never know peoples true motives/intentions.

Shelley Reeder said...


I could not have said it better myself. It is a "Beautiful occupation" and the ability do to so much with that occupation is so amazing. The curator themselves are artists in their own way. When I enter a space where the curator has worked and had things placed I am always curious as to why things were arranged that way and placed that way. There is such freedom in that job. They get to help arrange the artwork so it can be adored by the many individuals who cast their eyes upon it. The example you used about telling vs. showing when it comes to serious issues is a perfect example. I believe we as society react when we feel something. The job of the curator I believe is to make the person viewing the art feel the art as deeply as possible.. Whether it is by enhancing lighting or the way it is arranged and or displayed.

Shelley Reeder said...


Very intriguing point in regards to whether art is bought and displayed because it is "in". I find myself very annoyed when I see this happening. What I love about art itself is that it is an expression of what the artist is feeling/ going through. There are movements in art that have happened over decades and styles have been copied but I hope there is never a moment when curators try to push out a piece of artwork because it is not "in". I believe one of the main pleasures of strolling through an art gallery is the fact that all of us have the ability to encounter so much diversity around each corner and on each wall. Art is a representation of the artist a good percentage of the time. Walking into a gallery and seeing the same type of art would be like reading biographies of people who all turned out to be the same type of people with the same type of story. I for one crave diversity and hope that curators never push the precious jewel of diversity out of the art world.

Maria Ortiz said...

Very interesting, I was not aware that this profession was becoming popular. However it makes me think what are the curators motive? art appreciation or just the love of money $$?

Anonymous said...

Daniel Sanchez
PHI 2010
I don't know much about art but this article seemed very interesting to me. I had no idea that the job of curator was growing so rapidly. The fact that it is, and the fact that people see it as an easy job can be nothing but detrimental to the art business. Curators should be people with a passion and a keen eye for art. Art is a very important medium of expression, one that has been around for mileniums. This problem must be fixed and fixed rapidly.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth Diaz Aguero
PHI2010 Extra-credit
I find really interesting everything related to this profession, which I did not know of its existence as such, until now. The person to be effective in this job must have a profound knowledge of art and be passionate about it. But on the other hand, curator must have some business knowledge. I find a problem if the only motive of curators is money, but we cannot forget that money is very important. They have to decide what pieces add to collections. I would like to be idealistic and say that the quality of the art must be the most important to have into consideration. But unfortunately, there is more to take into account.