Up and Coming: 10 Young Curators Taking on the Art World

Francesca Gavin
Sep 5, 2014 7:50PM

The way art is positioned and presented is becoming an increasing obsession in the art world. The rise of super curators and curatorial styles are under strong focus as never before. Expect big things from these ten emerging curators, who each reflect their own strong voices and approach to ideas, objects, and images.

Attilia Fattori Franchini

Portrait of Attilia Fattori Franchini.

This independent Italian curator based in London made her name as co-creator of pioneering online space and last year’s well received basement program exhibiting unrepresented artists at Paradise Row gallery such as Hannah Perry, Yuri Pattison, and Johann Arens. Her focus is on the creation of hybrid platforms for the production and display of art. This year she co-founded Opening Times, a non-profit, digital art commissioning body and is working on shows for Tank TV and Seventeen Gallery.

Nicholas O’Brien 

Portrait of Nicholas O’Brien.


Net-based artist, curator, and writer Nicholas O’Brien has a fascinating practice which taps our relationship to the internet. His influential 19-artist show “Notes on a New Nature” at 319 Scholes in Brooklyn, was his big break, reflecting his interest in strongly research-based projects such as The New Romantics at Eyebeam which he co-curated earlier this year. He has worked with artists including Sara Ludy, Mark Beasley, and Sofia Leiby, and he is currently working as the gallery director for the Department of Digital Art at Pratt, launching a festival and exhibition this fall.

Nadim Samman 

Potrait of Nadim Samman.

Samman thinks big—having co-curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale in 2012, established The Antarctic Pavilion at 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture, and curated a 40-person show buried at a secret location on an Island of Costa Rica this year. He is based between Berlin—where, along with Anja Henckel, he runs project space called Import Projects—and Vienna, where he is the curator at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. He has worked with Ryan TrecartinConstant Dullaart, and Marguerite Humeau on shows that reflect his interest on “peripheral geographies” and the current technological revolution.

Morgan Quaintance

Portrait of Morgan Quaintance.

Quaintance produces and presents his own London-based radio show for Resonance 104.4 FM called “Studio Visit,” now in its seventh series, applying a curatorial approach to putting together weekly, hour-long interviews with artists including Jimmie Durham and Susan Hiller. His cross-genre shows with artists like Michael Smith reflect his “expanded field,” a curatorial approach that calls attention to disciplines on the periphery of art, such as sub-culture, fashion, and writing. He is also launching a curatorial collective called DAM Projects this September with curators Amanprit Sandhu and Daniella Rose King, and running a 12-month series of day-long exhibition/events in A-Space in Islington.

Jamillah James

Portrait of Jamillah James. Photo by Anna Carnochan.

James is on a roll after recently being appointed as Assistant Curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles after mounting ‘Brothers and Sisters’ at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she was a curatorial fellow in 2012. She has worked with a very impressive list of artists such as Keren CytterRashaad Newsome, Brendan Fowler, and Glenn Ligon, with shows moving away from time based media towards painting and sculpture that readdress the canon of art history to incorporate artists that have been overlooked.

Rebecca Lamarche Vadel

Portrait of Rebecca Lamarche Vadel. Photo by Nicolas Dorval-Bory.

Palais de Tokyo curator Rebecca Lamarche Vadel has been part of the institution’s strong transformation over the past two years, including curating exhibitions with David Douard, Helen Marte, and Ed Atkins, several collaborations with MoMA PS1, and the Stedelijk Museum. Lamarche Vadel, who cut her curatorial and writing teeth in Berlin, is currently working on an extensive group show “Le bord des Mondes (The edge of the worlds)” to be presented at the Palais de Tokyo in February 2015.

Naomi Beckwith

Portrait of Naomi Beckwith. Photo by Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Christian Marclay, and Martin Creed are just some of the artists MCA Chicago curator Beckwith has worked with over her career. After running the residency program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, she went back to Chicago, where her focus has been on art made by female artists, as well as conceptual art. Upcoming projects include a retrospective of 79-year-old sculptor Richard Hunt and a profile of avant-garde music and art movements in Chicago, co-curated with Dieter Roelstraete, titled “The Freedom Principle.”

Laura McLean Ferris

Portrait of Laura McLean Ferris.

After a strong editorial career, which included a long stint at Art Review, McLean Ferris has refocused on curation. Last year, she staged Cally Spooner’s musical “And you were wonderful, on stage” at Performa 13 as part of its curatorial team and co-curated shows at David Roberts Foundation and the Glasgow International. Upcoming projects include “Til the stars turn cold” (with Kyla McDonald from Glasgow Sculpture Studios), a group show on lip-synching, avatars, and invented characters, which opens at S1 in Sheffield in October.

Aaron Moulton

Portrait of Aaron Moulton. Courtesy of Evan Romoff and Trebuchet Interactive.

After running the highly respected independent space Feinkost in Berlin, Moulton headed to Salt Lake City as UMOCA curator and is now at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. He has worked with artists including Christian JankowskiPaul McCarthyAleksandra Domanovic, and Thomas Ruff, reflecting his interest in journalism, anthropology, and artist relationships. His last show at Gagosian, titled “Clear,” rethought the California Light and Space Movement through the lens of sci-fi characters.

Luca Lo Pinto

Portrait of Luca Lo Pinto. Photo by Kristina Kulakova. 

The editor in chief of Italian art and culture magazine Nero, Lo Pinto has just been appointed curator at Kunsthalle Wien. Based between Rome and Vienna, he has worked with numerous artists including Olaf NicolaiDarren BaderMario Garcia Torres, and Alexandre Singh. Upcoming projects include a solo show of Pierre Bismuth for the Kunsthalle, a group show at Christine König Galerie, and a project for the Studio-Museum Achille Castiglioni in Milan.

Francesca Gavin