New York Magazine’s Rachel Wolff profiles Whitney Biennial curator Francesco Bonomi as a failed painter:
Bonami wasn’t always a painter, much less an influential curator. He wasn’t great in school; he left his native Italy and bounced around Scandinavia without the slightest interest in the arts. He eventually studied stage design to appease his conservative parents, then decided to pursue painting instead.
“I was always behind the trends,” he says, scanning his overstuffed bookshelves. “I came to New York with my paintings at the same time Jeff Koons was showing his stainless-steel bunnies.” He extracts two slim volumes—catalogues from solo shows he had in the mid-eighties in New York and Milan. I skim through them as the artist-cum-curator readies his materials and takes a seat. The paintings are mostly representational and a little hokey, with funerary themes and titles like What You Didn’t Know Yesterday. “I’m going to make you a classic,” he says. […] Bonami’s the first to admit that his art career never took off. “I was fighting a lost battle,” he says about his decision to stop painting professionally in the late eighties. Instead, he took a job writing about art, then transitioned into curating. He made his mark curating the emerging-artists wing of the 1993 Venice Biennale (where he worked with Jeffrey Deitch and included Damien Hirst). Ten years later, the entire event was his.
112 Minutes With Whitney Biennial Curator Francesco Bonami (New York Magazine)