There’s an interesting story taking place here. Too bad the Independent’s Oliver Bennett doesn’t get to it. Art is moving out of institutions and into a more public realm where everyone is encouraged to be their own curator.
Now before you start freaking out over that last description, it’s obvious that most of us won’t be any good at being curators. But is that really a reason to complain? As Kenny Schachter says later in the piece: “‘It’s a reflection of how things have changed in art exhibitions over the past 25 years,’ he says. ‘It’s moved from erudition, professionalism and connoisseurship – the slow burn of accumulated knowledge – to lifestyle and publicity.’
And maybe that’s not so bad. Art’s success has always been social. So shouldn’t we be more tolerant of approaches to art that are more actively personal and social?
The curator is now a figure of ineffable gloss and international glitz, spreading cultural glamour across the globe – and increasingly likely to be well-known in his or her own right. The latest super-curator is writer Julian Barnes, who is to co-curate an exhibition of Swiss painter Félix Vallotton at the Royal Academy, to be staged in 2019.
It’s unlikely that Barnes will be handling the insurance and shipping, or helping hammer in the stud walls. But that’s the not the point. He’s part of a newish phenomenon: that of the “guest curator”, giving publicity to an exhibition. Barnes deserves it – he is a paragon of erudition and connoisseurship, with a long interest in Symbolist art – but the pressures on museums and galleries to market to ever-wider audiences are growing a breed of celebrity-curator, which is leading to some odd partnerships.
Celebrity curators: Good for publicity, but what does it say about art? (The Independent)