Art 101

8 Female Art Curators Shaping the Art World

Discover 8 inspirational women making an impressive impact in the art world.

By Antoinette Genevieve

We’ve picked out 8 inspirational female art curators who are making an impact on the art world. Originally compiled for International Women’s Day in March 2019, this list champions the achievements of women in the art world at a time when shining the spotlight on influential women in art is more important than ever.


Wonder Woman by Ellannah Sadkin


1. Helen Molesworth

Curator Helen Molesworth has been an icon in the art world for over a decade. Molesworth has always championed diversity and inclusion, and has exhibited challenging art. Her work has provided inspiration for women wishing to follow in her stead. After her departure from the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, she is now the inaugural curator-in-residence for Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.


Helen Molesworth (left) and Sanford Biggers (right) at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in 2019. ©2019-2021 by Anderson Ranch Arts Center. All Rights Reserved.


2. Thelma Golden

Thelma Golden currently holds the 8th position of the Art Review’s Power 100  (a list of most influential people in the contemporary art world). In 1988, she became the first African American curator of the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is currently the Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Golden is known for promoting emerging artists, and her exhibitions focus in particular on emerging African American artists. In 2010, Golden gave a TedTalk about how art gives shape to cultural change.


A lecture by David Adjaye (middle), founder of Adjaye Associates, followed by a conversation with Thelma Golden (left) and Amale Andraos (right). From Wikimedia Commons by GSAPPstudent, 2020. ©2019 by Columbia GSAPP. Adapted with permission.


3. Chou Yu-Ling

Chou Yu-Ling specializes in the development of the visual arts and moving image culture in Taiwan. In 2016, she organised the Meeting Point of the Museum and the Moving Images lecture series, which explored the role of moving image practices in contemporary art. In 2017, Chou curated Hardcore Rally with Hantoo Art Group from the perspective of reconstructing ethos of artistic communities and art history. She currently holds an in-house curator position with the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art.


4. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is the current Director of the Castello di Rivoli. She has a long curatorial resume that includes directing the 13th edition of Documenta, organising the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, and curating solo exhibitions with artists such as Alberto Burri, Ed Atkins, and Giovanni Anselmo. Christov-Bakargiev is known as one of the most influential women in the art world and has recently been awarded the 2019 Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence by the Center for Curatorial Studies Bard.


Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Giuseppe Penone talking in front of Idea di Pietra by Giuseppe Penone. From Wikimedia Commons by Hafenbar, 2020. Adapted with permission.


5. Maria Balshaw

Maria Balshaw is a CBE and the first female director of the Tate museums and galleries. She has held the position since 2017 and has helped to further Tate’s mission “to promote public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art.” She was Director of the Whitworth from June 2006 to 2017. 
In 2011, Balshaw took on the role of Director of Manchester City Galleries alongside her duties at the Whitworth.


6. Claire Hsu

Claire Hsu is the Director and Co-Founder of the Hong Kong-based nonprofit Asia Art Archive (AAA). Structured around an expanding physical library, the Archive includes an unrivalled digital library, residencies, workshops, conferences and symposia that document and shape the historical discourse around contemporary Asian art. Hsu's influence in the region has been ongoing, and we look forward to seeing where the AAA will take its audiences in the future.


7. María Inés Rodríguez

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in Brazil announced in February 2019 that María Inés Rodríguez and Julia Bryan-Wilson have been appointed as adjunct curators for modern and contemporary art. Rodríguez is the former director of the Musée d’art Contemporain de Bordeaux and the Chief Curator at the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City. Much like Molesworth, Rodríguez is celebrated as a progressive steward of the arts.


8. Casey Fremont

Casey Fremont is the Executive Director of Art Production Fund. She grew up in New York City's Greenwich Village and graduated from Boston University in 2004 with an Art History degree. In September 2009, Fremont co-curated That Was Then at Rush Arts in New York, and in January 2010 she co-curated Look Again at Marlborough Gallery, New York. She began working at Art Production Fund in 2004 and gained the title of Executive Director in November 2016.


Women artists and art curators have made powerful impacts over the course of art’s male-dominated history. In a separate article, we’ve highlighted 6 women at the forefront of feminist art. Female art curators play a different role in the art world, with power to influence diversity and inclusion in art galleries and exhibitions.

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