Curating Curators


The role of the curator is continuously in development. Curators may have started of as mere caretakers for art collections but today their involvement is perceived as almost an artistic praxis itself. As a result of the unceasing amount of transformation this profession has gone through and is going through the amount of books explaining, researching and investigating the phenomenon of the curator has skyrocketed. We selected three books, all written by curators themselves, which together should give you a deeper understanding of this still mystifying profession.

A Brief History of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist

As one of, if not the top contemporary curator, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, could probably write "the book" on curating. Instead, he lets others talk. In this unique publication, 11 interviews with pioneering curators are collected. Most of the selected curators started their career in the 1960s and 1970s and the book therefore has a strong focus on that period. As one amazon reviewer describes it as it "reads as a couple of old sailors on a dock talking about the good old days". But if that old sailor tale includes Swedish museum director Pontus Hultén transporting a Mondrian in a taxicab, we believe they are worth hearing!

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s) by Paul O'Neill

Paul O’Neill, curator, artist and writer, looks into the emergence of the independent curator and how the discourse surrounding ‘the curator’ helped establish the notion of the curator as independent agent. Divided in three chapters, the book deals with the history of curating as a disciple, the biennial as a "contemporary glocal phenomenon", and the curator as an artist.

Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating edited by Jens Hoffmann

This book began as a series of commissioned essays for Mousse Magazine. Ten distinguished contemporary curators, Jessica Morgan, Chus Martinez and Maria Lind amongst them, ask and then offer responses to ten fundamental questions surrounding the process of curating. Varying from "What is an exhibition" to "What about collecting?" the questions posed aim is to answer the question of "What it means to be a curator today".

Get your copy of the Fifth Edition