All Great Art Is Contemporary

Reflections on the second Curators Programme at Frieze Masters 2017

Frieze Masters 2017 partnered with the National Gallery, London for the second Art Fund Curators Programme, which brought together leading international experts and UK regional museum curators, including Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and participants from Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk Virginia; Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, among many others.

Taco Dibbits, commented: ‘Great art is always contemporary. At the fair, I was struck by the range of art works on show, from a ritual disc at Ariadne Galleries to an Egyptian shabti boat at Phoenix Ancient Art to a portrait of Hassan El Berberi at Colnaghi, which was very striking for its intensity, its modern composition and its subject matter: something you would not usually expect to see in this context. What struck me going around was the fact that objects from several thousand years BC coexisting with more recent artworks. The desire to care for these things is something very human and universal. I found that very inspiring’.

curators-day-body-taco.jpg

Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum, in front of a portrait of Hassan El Berberi at Colnaghi, Frieze Masters 2017

Taco Dibbits, Director of the Rijksmuseum, in front of a portrait of Hassan El Berberi at Colnaghi, Frieze Masters 2017

Mary Hersov, Head of National Programmes at the National Gallery, London, added: “The National Gallery runs the Subject Specialist Network,  European Paintings pre-1900 and a selection of our members who are UK based Curators of Dutch paintings were invited to take part in the Curators Day at Frieze Masters. We held an informative and lively discussion with our colleagues from Europe and the U.S.A about how to create exciting new displays, exhibitions and public programmes to engage audiences by involving contemporary artists and also via digital platforms. The group were then taken on a tour of Frieze Masters which they found very helpful.”

curators-day-body-ii.jpg

Curators Programme in session at Frieze Masters 2017

Curators Programme in session at Frieze Masters 2017

Stephen Deuchar, Director, Art Fund, said: ‘Frieze Masters offers the chance for museum curators across the UK to access international knowledge and expertise. Art Fund helped facilitate the process by bringing together the Rijksmuseum's director general Taco Dibbits with Art Fund trustee Richard Calvocaressi, and curators involved in the National Gallery's pre-1900 painting Subject Specialist Network (SSN). The session began by exploring ways in which curators working with Dutch old master paintings can better engage audiences through imaginative exhibitions, creative rehangs of collections, and digital technology.

The conversations revealed many museums today searching afresh for “authenticity”, mirrored by their audiences’ pull towards the real in a digital world. Taco described the Rijksmuseum as being like the ‘photo album of the country’. His approach is to be as low tech as possible inside the museum, and as high tech as possible outside. Museums are a place to make sense of the world as it is, but they can also help shape it.

curators-day-body.jpg

Curators from the Curators Programme tour the stand of Dr Joern Gunther Rare Books at Frieze Masters 2017

Curators from the Curators Programme tour the stand of Dr Joern Gunther Rare Books at Frieze Masters 2017

There was consensus that whilst curators are under constant pressure to widen their skills beyond their specialisms, there remains real demand for specialist knowledge from the public, who, for example relish the opportunity to walk around the museum with the curator.

Interesting trends around collection displays were also revealed: the 'thematic versus chronological' debate remains in some quarters, but there was wide acceptance that the juxtaposition of objects across periods and genres can be historically and art historically revealing. On the balance of contemporary and historic, the group strongly felt that all great art is contemporary in its relevance today, and new life can, for example, be breathed into an old master placed in the context of current graphic design and architecture.”

Most Read

With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The museum director, who resigned last year, acted with ‘integrity’, an independent report finds
In further news: study finds US film critics overwhelmingly white and male; woman sues father over Basquiat
With the government’s push for the controversial English baccalaureate, why the arts should be an integral part of the...
From Bruce Nauman at the Schaulager to the story of a 1970s artist community in Carona at Weiss Falk, all the shows to...
Sotheby’s and Christie’s say they are dropping the practice of using female-only staff to pose for promotional...
For the annual city-wide art weekender ahead of Basel, the best shows and events to attend around town
For our second report from BB10, ahead of its public opening tomorrow, a focus on KW Institute for Contemporary Art
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
In further news: declining UK museum visitors sees country fall in world rankings; first winner of Turner Prize,...
The Icelandic-Danish artist’s creation in Vejle, Denmark, responds to the tides and surface of the water: both artwork...
In further news: Emperor Constantine’s missing finger discovered in the Louvre; and are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers turning...
The opening of a major new exhibition by Lee Bul was delayed after one of the South Korean artist’s works caught fire
The LA-based painter’s exquisite skewing of Renaissance and biblical scenes at Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
Lee Bul, Abortion, 1989, performance documentation. Courtesy: the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul
In a climate of perma-outrage has live art self-censored to live entertainment?

A tribute to the iconic New York journal: a platform through which founder Andy Warhol operated as artist, hustler and...
A distinctively American artist who, along with four neighbourhood contemporaries, changed the course of US painting...
From Assemble’s marbled floor tiles to Peter Zumthor's mixed-media miniatures, Emily King reports from the main...
From Ian White's posthumous retrospective to Lloyd Corporation's film about a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, what to...
Kimberly Bradley speaks to ‘the German’ curator on the reasons for his early exit from the Austrian institution
In further news: #MeToo flashmob at Venice Architecture Biennale; BBC historian advocates for return of British...
German museums are being pushed to diversify their canons and respond to a globalized world – but is ‘cleaning up’ the...
Sophie Fiennes’s new film Bloodlight and Bami reveals a personal side of the singer as yet unseen 
‘At last there is a communal mechanism for women to call a halt to the demeaning conventions of machismo’
The German artist has put up 18 works for sale to raise money to buy 100 homes
The novelist explored Jewish identity in the US through a lens of frustrated heterosexuality
Artist Jesse Jones, who represented Ireland at last year’s Venice Biennale, on what is at stake in Friday’s Irish...
‘I spend more time being seduced by the void … as a way of energizing my language’: poet Wayne Koestenbaum speaks about...
To experience the music of the composer, who passed away last week at the age of 69, was to hear something tense,...
In a year charged with politicized tensions, mastery of craft trumps truth-to-power commentary
In further news: women wearing rainbow badges beaten in Beijing’s 798; gallerists Georg Kargl and Richard Gray have...
‘Coping as a woman in France is a daily battle: the aggression can be subtle, and you always have to push harder to...
Toyin Ojih Odutola’s portraits of a fictional aristocratic Nigerian family push toward an expanded definition...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018