Renowned Art Curator to Give Shenkman Lecture

March 05, 2010 - News Release

Iwona Blazwick, curator of Whitechapel Gallery in London, England, will give the fourth annual Shenkman Lecture in Contemporary Art March 10 at 5:30 p.m. in War Memorial Hall. Hosted by the School of Fine Art and Music (SOFAM), the event is free and open to the public.

“Iwona Blazwick is one of the most influential and admired directors and curators in contemporary art,” says Prof. Robert Enright, University research professor in art criticism in SOFAM.

“She has been involved in many of Britain’s most important public art galleries. Before becoming a curator and museum director, she worked with Phaidon, the great art publisher in Britain, and initiated two series of art books, one on themes in contemporary art and the other the famous ‘Contemporary Artists,’ a series of monographs on living artists that have become indispensable aids to understanding the work of a wide range of contemporary artists.”

From publishing, Blazwick moved on to the world of art galleries. She was director of exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art and head of exhibitions and displays at Tate Modern before becoming curator at Whitechapel. There, she oversaw a major expansion project that took two years, cost some $20 million and tripled the size of the art museum.

Whitechapel had first attracted attention in 1939 when it displayed Picasso’s anti-war painting Guernica and used it to raise funds for anti-Fascist fighters during the Spanish Civil War. To honour that history, Blazwick arranged for an installation that included a tapestry replica of Guernica borrowed from the United Nations in New York to mark the grand reopening of the enlarged gallery in 2009.

The title of Blazwick’s March 10 talk is “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Institutions So Different, So Appealing?” She will explore the transformation of the museum from mausoleum to mass spectacle and discuss the implications for artists and audiences in the 21st century.

The Shenkman Lectures are funded through a donation by Dasha Shenkman, a Canadian art collector now living in the United Kingdom.

In conjunction with the lecture, MFA students and undergraduate students in the specialized studio program in SOFAM host their annual open studios March 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. in Blackwood Hall, the Fire Hall and the Axelrod Building. For more details, visit the SOFAM website.

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