New Chief Curator announced for the Whitechapel Gallery


The Whitechapel Gallery announced today that Magnus af Petersens is appointed Chief Curator.

Magnus af Petersens joins the Whitechapel Gallery in this senior role as the century-old Gallery strengthens its global reach and outlook, while welcoming half a million visitors a year. Working closely with Iwona Blazwick, Director, he will oversee a broad programme of modern and contemporary art exhibitions, new artist commissions, presentations of rarely seen public and private collections, focused displays from the Whitechapel Gallery’s historic archive, and an extensive programme of publications.

Magnus af Petersens was a curator of contemporary art at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm from 2002, where he has been Head of Exhibitions and Collections since 2006 and curated large-scale exhibitions such as Paul McCarthy: Head Shop/Shop Head (2006), the group exhibition Eclipse: Art in a Dark Age (2008), Clay Ketter (2009), Keren Cytter (2010), and Explosion: Painting as Action (2012) with works from 1947 until today, including Yves Klein, Yoko Ono, Jackson Pollock and Robert Rauschenberg. He was curator of The Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2011. Prior to which he was curator at Färgfabriken, curator at Swedish Travelling Exhibitions (Riksutställningar), chairman of photography festival Xposeptember, and editor of the arts magazine Hjärnstorm.

From January 2013 he leads the exhibitions team at the Whitechapel Gallery including Daniel F. Herrmann, Eisler Curator and Head of Curatorial Studies; Kirsty Ogg, Curator; Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator Archive Gallery; and Assistant Curators Poppy Bowers, Emily Butler, Habda Rashid and Candy Stobbs. He takes over the role from Achim Borchardt-Hume, who joined the Gallery in 2009, curating major exhibitions including Walid Raad (2010), Keeping it Real (2010 – 11), Wilhelm Sasnal (2011), Zarina Bhimji (2012), The Bloomberg Commission: Giuseppe Penone (2012) and Mel Bochner (2012), who will shortly be taking up the position of Head of Exhibitions, Tate Modern.

Forthcoming highlights for 2013 include: a new exhibition of Sarah Lucas in a tailor-made commission for the Whitechapel Gallery (opening 2 October 2013); the first major UK survey of Irish artist Gerard Byrne (opening 17 January 2013); a group show exploring the role of art in imagining the future (opening 4 July 2013); changing displays opening up private and public collections, with the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and the Contemporary Art Society, as well as the Whitechapel Gallery’s archives, and major site-specific commissions.

Magnus af Petersens, said: ‘I feel privileged to be joining the Whitechapel Gallery which I have long admired as a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, premiering world-class artists and playing a central role in the UK’s cultural landscape. I look forward to contributing to its future success as a leading venue for the public display of modern and contemporary art.’

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, said: ‘We are delighted that Magnus af Petersens is joining the Whitechapel Gallery. I look forward to the blend of intellectual rigour and world view he will use to bring the best modern and contemporary art to everyone’.


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