Curation: The emergence of curatorial discourse from the late 1960s to the present

I should have posted these notes back on January 16th but on reviewing my blog I can see I didn’t. So, here they are.

The emergence of the independent exhibition maker in the 1960s

  • Historically curator was carer – out of site – administrative
  • Then artists became aware of the arts separateness from context and addressed this with curation and installation art – new exhibition formats in the 1960s
  • 1980s saw new paradigm shift exhibitions as individual curatorial statements

This process involved moving away from history of art with institutions showing their own works to: showing of contemporary art, putting together collections of arts under thematic headings, and the rise of the independent curator

Nowadays the curator is co author

Demystification and the role of mediator

  • The role of curator as demystifier and maker of transparency (so viewers could see the values underpinning the organisational decisions) p36
  • But curatorial transparency – or more specifically the dynamic of making such statements – would result in the opposite effect – ie attention shifting toward the organisation of artwork rather than the artwork itself p36 – that is how masking p37 works

Curatorial anthologies and the emergence of the history of exhibitions – 1990s

  • This period saw examination of history of exhibitions; curatorial models and evolving practices
  • Display is the core of exhibiting p39 but has been overlooked in the history of western art p39 and 40 except in regard to contemporary exhibitions

Curatorial discourse since the late 1990s

  • Professionalization of contemporary curating
  • Shift in artistic criticism toward writing about exhibition’s from a curatorial perspective p44
  • Globalisation opf western style curatorial discourse via tis professionalization p45
  • Curatorial anthologies begin to appear

The chapter took me from demystification through to curatorial practice and discourse becoming a real tangible discrete thing with journals, books and other things dedicated to it. This is surprising when you think about it because producing an artwork is just one part of the process and it seems strange to me to think that artists would want to limit themselves to that part of the workflow. Yet this chapter showed how curatorship moved from something taking place largely behind the scenes and within established collections of work belong to single institutions to one more akin to performance – time limited thematic exhibitions.

P. O’Neill, (2012) Curation: The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture , Published by MIT Press


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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