Iwona Blazwick

Last updated

Iwona Maria Blazwick
Iwona Blazwick at German Embassy in London.jpg
Iwona Blazwick at German Embassy in London in 2017
Born (1955-10-14) 14 October 1955 (age 65)
Alma mater Exeter University
Occupation Art critic, lecturer
Known forDirector of the Whitechapel Art Gallery

Iwona Maria Blazwick OBE (born 14 October 1955) [1] is a British art critic and lecturer, and has been Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London since 2001. [2] She discovered Damien Hirst and staged his first solo show at a public London art gallery, Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1992. [1] She supports the careers of young artists. [3]


Blazwick was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art in 2008. [2] She is married to Richard Noble, the Canadian philosopher and fine art lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London. [4]

Early life

Blazwick was brought up in Blackheath, South East London. [1] She is the child of Polish architects who both painted and inspired her passion for art and design. [3] Her family name is Blaszczyk, but she later changed the spelling as she found people could not pronounce it or misspelled it. [1]

Education and early career

Blazwick studied English and Fine Art at Exeter University. [3] She wrote her university thesis on Henry Moore. [1] After university, she was hired as a receptionist for a pop art prints and books publisher. She became an assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, under the tutelage of Sandy Nairne, who is a former director of the National Portrait Gallery. [3] Her first exhibition was, Objects and Sculpture (1981), which included work by artists Bill Woodrow, Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley. [1]


From 1984 to 1986, Blazwick was Director of AIR Gallery, London.[ citation needed ] From 1986 to 1993, she was Director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, where she curated exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.[ citation needed ]

From 1993 to 1997, Blazwick was a commissioning editor for contemporary art at Phaidon. She also worked as an independent curator for museums and major public arts projects in Europe and Japan, devising surveys of contemporary artists and commissioning new works of art. [1]

From 1997 to 2001, Blazwick was Curator and then Head of Exhibitions at Tate Modern. There she co-conceived a new model for the display of the Collection and a blueprint for the Museum's future program, including the Turbine Hall commissions. She co-curated the inaugural display and the groundbreaking exhibition 'Century City.' Blazwick was responsible for Tate Modern's permanent collection becoming grouped thematically, rather than chronologically. [3]

Since 2001, Blazwick has been the Director of the Whitechapel Gallery, London. [2] She is series editor of Whitechapel Gallery/ MIT Documents of Contemporary Art. Blazwick is Chair of the Cultural Strategy Group at London's City Hall, appointed by Mayor Boris Johnson.[ citation needed ]

Blazwick was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art in the 2008 New Year Honours. [2] She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art (2004) and has received Honorary Doctorates from Plymouth University (2006), the London Metropolitan University (2007), Goldsmiths' College (2010), the University of the Arts (2011) and Middlesex University.[ citation needed ] She has sat on the selection panel of the Sky Academy Arts Scholarship. [5] She has been called "one of the most important woman in British art". [3]


Blazwick has written monographs and articles on many contemporary artists and published extensively on themes and movements in modern and contemporary art, exhibition histories and art institutions. Her writings include monographs on Gary Hume (Other Criteria, 2012) and Cornelia Parker (Thames and Hudson, 2013); and contributions to monographs and exhibition catalogues on Hannah Collins, Keith Coventry, Elmgreen and Dragset, Fischli and Weiss, Ceal Floyer, Katharina Fritsch, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Alex Katz, Paul McCarthy, Cornelia Parker, Annie Ratti, Hannah Starkey, Lawrence Weiner and Rachel Whiteread; and anthologies including Fresh Cream in 2001.[ citation needed ] She was editor of the Tate Modern: The Handbook and Century City. She also writes art criticism for numerous periodicals. She contributes occasional reviews and commentaries for BBC and Channel Four television and BBC radio.[ citation needed ] She also wrote the introduction for Talking Art: Interviews with Artists Since 1976, published by Ridinghouse and Art Monthly and featuring the best interviews from the latter's 30-year run. [6] Blazwick is series editor of Documents of Contemporary Art; co-published with MIT Press these anthologies bring together the most important texts by artists, critics and historians on the big themes in art today, ranging from Participation to Failure. [7]

Blazwick has sat on several art prize juries, including the Turner Prize (1993), the Jerwood Painting Prize (1997), the 2002 Wexner Prize (as a member of Ohio's Wexner Center's International Arts Advisory Council), the Clark Prize for Writing (2010/12) and the John Moores Painting Prize (2012).[ citation needed ] She is chair of the MaxMara Art Prize for Women and a standing member of the jury for Film London's Jarman Award; and a member of the Fourth Plinth Committee.[ citation needed ]

Blazwick is a Trustee of Harewood House in Yorkshire; and serves on the Advisory Boards of the Government Art Collection; the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art; Sculpture in the City; and the Trafalgar Square Fourth Plinth Commission.[ citation needed ] She was on the Advisory Board of Documenta 13, the 2015 Istanbul Biennale, and the MAXXI Museum in Rome.[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Bridget Riley British painter

Bridget Louise Riley is an English painter known for her singular op art paintings. She lives and works in London, Cornwall and the Vaucluse in France.

Gillian Wearing British artist

Gillian Wearing CBE, RA is an English conceptual artist, one of the Young British Artists, and winner of the 1997 Turner Prize. In 2007 Wearing was elected as lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her statue of the suffragist Millicent Fawcett stands in London's Parliament Square.

Peter Doig Scottish painter

Peter Doig is a British painter. One of the most renowned living figurative painters, he has settled in Trinidad since 2002. In 2007, his painting White Canoe sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then an auction record for a living European artist. In February 2013, his painting, The Architect's Home in the Ravine, sold for $12 million at a London auction. Art critic Jonathan Jones said about him: "Amid all the nonsense, impostors, rhetorical bullshit and sheer trash that pass for art in the 21st century, Doig is a jewel of genuine imagination, sincere work and humble creativity."

Nicholas Serota

Sir Nicholas Andrew Serota, is an English art historian and curator, who served as the Director of the Tate from 1988 to 2017. He is currently Chair of Arts Council England, a role which he has held since February 2017.

Whitechapel Gallery

The Whitechapel Gallery is a public art gallery in Whitechapel on the north side of Whitechapel High Street, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The original building, designed by Charles Harrison Townsend, opened in 1901 as one of the first publicly funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London. The building is a notable example of the British Modern Style. In 2009 the gallery approximately doubled in size by incorporating the adjacent former Passmore Edwards library building. It exhibits the work of contemporary artists and organizes retrospective exhibitions and other art shows.

Sonia Dawn Boyce,, is a British Afro-Caribbean artist, living and working in London. She is a Professor of Black Art and Design at University of the Arts London. Boyce's research interests explore art as a social practice and the critical and contextual debates that arise from this area of study. With an emphasis on collaborative work, Boyce has been working closely with other artists since 1990, often involving improvisation and spontaneous performative actions on the part of her collaborators. Boyce's work involves a variety of media, such as drawing, print, photography, video, and sound. Her art explores "the relationship between sound and memory, the dynamics of space, and incorporating the spectator". To date, Boyce has taught Fine Art studio practice for more than thirty years in several art colleges across the UK.

Fiona Rae

Fiona Rae is a Hong Kong-born British artist. She is one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) who rose to prominence in the 1990s. Throughout her career, she has been known for having a portfolio of work that includes elements of energy, and complexity. Her work is known for aiming at expanding the modern traditions of painting.

Bryan Robertson British art curator

Bryan Robertson OBE was an English curator and arts manager described by Studio International as "the greatest Director the Tate Gallery never had".

Liam Gillick is a British artist who lives and works in New York City. Gillick deploys multiple forms to make visible the aesthetics of the constructed world and examine the ideological control systems that have emerged along with globalization and neoliberalism. He utilizes materials that resemble everyday built environments, transforming them into minimalist abstractions that deliver commentaries on social constructs, while also exploring notions of modernism.

Eileen Cooper is a British artist, known primarily as a painter and printmaker.

Mel Bochner is an American conceptual artist. Bochner received his BFA in 1962 and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts in 2005 from the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. He lives in New York City.

Alice Rawsthorn OBE is a British design critic and author. Her books include Design as an Attitude (2018) and Hello World: Where Design Meets Life (2013). She is chair of the board of trustees at the Chisenhale Gallery in London and at The Hepworth Wakefield gallery in Yorkshire. Rawsthorn is a founding member of Writers at Liberty, a group of writers who are committed to supporting the work of the human rights charity Liberty. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to design and the arts.

Prunella Clough British artist

Prunella Clough was a prominent British artist. She is known mostly for her paintings, though she also made prints and created assemblages of collected objects. She was awarded the Jerwood Prize for painting, and received a retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain.

Zarina Bhimji is a Ugandan Asian photographer, based in London. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2007, exhibited at Documenta 11 in 2002, and is represented in the public collections of Tate, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Mark Dion American conceptual artist

Mark Dion is an American conceptual artist best known for his use of scientific presentations in his installations. His work examines the manner in which prevalent ideologies and institutions influence our understanding of history, knowledge and the natural world. The job of the artist, according to him, is to "go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Dion questions the objectivity and authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society, tracking how pseudo-science, social agendas and ideology creep into public discourse and knowledge production. Some of his well known works include Neukom Vivarium(2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, WA.

Keith Coventry British artist and curator

Keith Coventry is a British artist and curator. In September 2010 his Spectrum Jesus painting won the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize.

Lubaina Himid CBE is a British artist and curator. She is a professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities.

Charlotte Verity

Charlotte Verity is a painter living and working in London, UK. A monograph on her work, Charlotte Verity was published by Ridinghouse, in November 2016.

Katy Moran is an English contemporary artist whose work is in the collection of the Arts Council and the Government Art Collection. Moran is represented by Stuart Shave/Modern Art and the Andrea Rosen Gallery.

The Northern Art Prize was an annual arts prize, established in 2006 and first awarded in 2007, that was created to celebrate contemporary artists practising in the North of England, which it defined as the North, the North West and Yorkshire and Humber, as per the boundaries operated by Arts Council England. It was open to professional artists of any age and working in any medium. In 2008 it was described by The Guardian as the "Northern Turner Prize". It was last awarded to Margaret Harrison in 2013.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wroe, Nicholas (18 August 2006). "Interview: Iwona Blazwick". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, Iwona Blazwick OBE on recognising and supporting pioneering female artists - Womanthology". Womanthology. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Salter, Kate (2015). "Iwona Blazwick: 'I could have bought a Damien Hirst for a thousand quid'". ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  4. Field, Marcus (21 October 2010). "Iwona Blazwick: the high priestess of Whitechapel". Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  5. "Talented Knightswood artist beats more than 1,000 people to win £30,000 Sky Arts Grant - Clydebank Post Rooney.S p.27 June 2016" . Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. "Talking Art". Ridinghouse.
  7. Sarah Thornton. Seven Days in the Art World. New York. ISBN   9780393337129. OCLC   489232834.