by Lili Kriston, Art Ambassador of HINSA.

The word ‘curator’ originates from the term “to take care”. Generally speaking, this is a rather accurate summary of the many tasks a curator’s job involves in the 21st century- taking care of things.

What does a curator do?

A curator is an art manager and business expert combined into one. They have to be familiar with the business as well as art in general. Museums are great examples of why curators are needed in the field of art. As museums, exhibitions are also businesses. The donors, investors, and the institution itself need those ‘numbers’ to keep the business up and running; ticket sales and fame are key to long-term success. Of course, an exhibition can only be popular if the collection of art presented is outstanding in some way: not necessarily just beautiful! Think of dadaism or brutalist architecture.

Curators are often given the task to choose and oversee the given museum’s collection and items to be exhibited: the success of an exhibition depends on them a great deal. What is more, curators often play an important role in discovering new talent: the recognition of rising artists and the support of quality artworks (that would also sell well in the future) is a huge responsibility besides being rewarding of course.

What qualifications does one need to become a curator?

Ideally, a curator should be great at many things: art theory, art history, and contemporary art too. It is expected to be able to measure artistic merit. Speaking foreign languages is a must: after all, art should not have borders, including invisible ones created by communication difficulties. An economist/ business background is also quite necessary for someone to be a great curator. Being able to understand and work with certain economic rates is inevitable. Understanding how to value and artwork is key. At present, several schools including 2 universities in Hungary offer Master’s degree programs in Art Management, with an opportunity to major as a Curator.

What qualities make a successful curator?

The everyday life of a curator consists of endless multitasking. Many projects are in operation at the same time, event planning, research, keeping in touch with partners and artists: the list goes on. Curators have to be confident and resilient, work well under pressure, and be motivated by deadlines. As for someone currently in the process of becoming one, my experience coincides with the words above. I have learned very quickly that one has to put effort into having a great network: curators do not have to be experts at everything, rather they should always know who to ask or call for professional advice.

Being a curator is like being a bridge between important but isolated islands: the artist, the institution, the state, and so on. Curators aren’t in the spotlight much, rather in the ‘back office’: this job is for someone who genuinely thrives in seeing and helping others succeed. Nevertheless, in the art world, there are famous names. Institutions and collectors count on their advice, as art is subjective and if one does not want to invest in the wrong direction, they have to get some advice.

Next to well-known curator names internationally and especially in Europe, like  Nicolas Bourriaud, Kasper König, Camille Morineau, Hans Ulrich Obrist  a new generation of young curators in Europe start changing the style and influencing the public’s opinion.  Here are the top European names on the radar of Artsy

Top 10 European young curators shaping the future of art:

  • Elena Filipovic (POSITION: Director and curator, Kunsthalle Basel, LOCATION: Basel, Switzerland
  • Nadim Samman (POSITION: Curator, 5th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow; Co-Director, Import Projects, Berlin, LOCATION: Berlin)
  • Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (POSITION: Curator at Large, Documenta 14, Kassel, Germany; Founder and art director, SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin, LOCATION: Berlin and Kassel, Germany)
  • Rózsa Zita Farkas (POSITION: Founding director, curator, and editor, Arcadia Missa, London, LOCATION: London)
  • Fatoş Üstek (POSITION: Independent curator and writer; Curator, “fig-2,” Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, LOCATION: London)
  • Michal Novotný (POSITION: Director and curator, Center for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Prague, LOCATION: Prague, Czech Republic)
  • Heidi Ballet (POSITION: Independent curator, Satellite 9, Jeu de Paume, Paris and CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, France, LOCATION: Berlin and Brussels
  • KM Temporaer (Elisa R. Linn & Lennart Wolff), (POSITION: Independent curators, LOCATION: Berlin and Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
  • Justė Jonutytė (POSITION: Director, Rupert Centre for Arts and Education, Vilnius, LOCATION: Vilnius, Lithuania)
  • Anna Gritz (POSITION: Curator, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin; Attaché for the 20th Biennale of Sydney 2016, LOCATION: Berlin)

At HINSA. we also work with Curators – our lead curator is Ani Molnar owner of Ani Molnar Gallery. Further, we work with Samantha Wilson and Lívia Takács, as well as with Nusha Merdjanova. Check the HINSA. Team