Curatorial Practice

Master - Venice

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The global scenario of the art system includes today a growing number of physical and virtual venues representing a wide range of curatorial projects opportunities: museums, exhibition areas, public and private galleries, biennals, fairs, platforms, websites, etc.
The Master course in Curatorial Practice promoted by IED Venezia is a programme that deals with the exhibition design direction and management related to the art field and beyond, training professionals ready to enter with full rights the art industry. Strong point is the prestige and uniqueness of Venice, main player of the current debate on curatorial issues, generator of professional excellence.
The international faculty is coordinated by Jonathan Watkins and includes leading curators, scholars in the humanities, artists, and art professionals, coming from many prominent institutions such as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Fondation Pinault, Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, Ruya Foundation, Beirut Art Center, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Career opportunities - At the end of the Master course, participants may pursue careers in museums and not-for-profit galleries as well as in commercial galleries, fairs, and auction houses. They also consider roles in emerging areas such as criticism, education, consultancy, and artist studio management.

  • Start date
    January 2018
  • Duration
    1 year
  • Attendance
  • Language

Target - The course is designed for postgraduate students who want to specialise in the curatorial sector, including museums, galleries, fairs or for auction houses. Previous study in the field of Arts and Management are desirable, but not essential. 

Methodology and structure - The curriculum of the course investigates modern and international contemporary art, as well as visual arts institutions and practices, training in exhibition organisation and public programmes in museums and not-for-profit galleries, commissioning, writing, publishing and commercial gallery activity.

The programme has a very pragmatic approach, providing students with methodology and a step-by-step path that will lead to the realisation of an exhibition project. For that reason, its structure is divided into 3 main parts: 

Area 1_Theory - The first part provides students with solid introduction to the history of post-WW2 modern and contemporary art, and a critical analysis of recent trends. The history of exhibitions is analysed in the light of museology, leading to a consideration of current curatorial strategies. 

Area 2_Skills and expertise - The second part is concerned with specific expertise and skills required to develop an efficient working practice in fields of exhibition organisation and management, also placing emphasis on audience development through marketing and learning, writing – as required for publication, fundraising etc. – and off-site activity. Driven by renowned professionals, this area is relevant for those wishing to pursue careers either in non-profit or commercial art worlds, in auction houses or art fairs, commissioning the production of new artwork in museums or in the public realm. 

Area 3_Practice - The third part deals with the issue of the design of specific curatorial projects, starting from an idea to its realisation, developed in collaboration with international Curators.

Students have the chance to  live the unique experience of intensive weeks dedicated to Pegghy Guggenheim Collection and the 16th International Architecture Exhibition (2018).

  • Theory

    • Introduction

      This introduction provides a clear pathway for the course, a survey of the forthcoming modules, whilst raising fundamental questions about the institutions of art. It sets an analytical, critical tone for the course as a whole.

    • Modernism

      Artistic gestures made during the emergence and development of modernism continue to have strong resonance in all aspects of contemporary art experience - practical, critical and curatorial. The proximity of the Guggenheim Museum, one of the most remarkable collections of modernist art in the world, is an invaluable asset to this course and provide students with first hand encounters of seminal works, as they develop an understanding of modernism as a movement, c.1900 – c.1980.

    • Post-modernism and Contemporary Art

      The linear trajectory of modernism was disrupted by post-modernism, c.1980 and the visual arts – inspired especially by feminism - came quickly to embody an extraordinary diversity of styles, propositions and practices arising from a wide international range of cultural traditions. Contemporary art is informed largely by post-modernism, as demonstrated by this module.

    • Museology

      The impulse to build museums, institutions for the caring of artefacts and other objects of cultural significance, was quickened during the Enlightenment, and is very much a feature of modernist and postmodernist times. This module investigates the rise of museums, especially art museums, around the world, raising vital questions about their relevance and function.

    • History of Exhibitions

      There is a seemingly endless variety of art exhibitions. Having their origins in the salon exhibitions of the 18th century, especially in France and Britain, they now range from small artists’ initiatives to massive undertakings such as the Biennale di Venezia. Besides providing a brief history, this module focuses on a number of seminal exhibitions such as When Attitudes Become Form (1969), Aperto ‘80 (Venice Biennale), Magiciens de la terre (1989) and Cities on the Move (1997).

    • Exhibitions Now

      This module focuses on the variety of kinds of exhibitions being made now – e.g. monographic exhibitions and retrospectives; group shows based on ideas of national representation and other themes; and biennials, triennials and other international exhibitions – with consideration of what it is that makes them distinct and timely. The 16th Architectural Venice Biennale, coinciding with this course, provides numerous case studies.

  • Skills and expertise

    • Exhibition Organisation

      Exhibition organisation requires careful planning in a number of areas. Besides the development of a proposition – why this exhibition, what exactly etc? – there is much to take into account, including artists’ involvement, the venues and other contexts and resources available. This module also provides an introduction to those that follow concerning audience development, related learning and public programmes and publications.

    • Commissioning/Fundraising

      Often contemporary art is commissioned – for exhibitions, public art programs, architectural schemes etc. – and this module addresses the kinds of processes involved through consideration of case studies. Special emphasis is given to fundraising, becoming increasingly vital for commissions and art projects generally, through donations, sponsorship and grants.

    • Writing/Publishing

      Visual art, paradoxically, involves a lot of writing. Project descriptions are required for proposals, fundraising and related reports, promotion and interpretation. In addition, texts are required for exhibition catalogues - introductions, essays etc. – and a variety of other related publications. This module also concernes the business of publishing, including graphic design and print production.

    • Audience Development: Learning

      Art is about audience response as much as artistic gestures. Learning activity is undertaken in order to develop audiences, providing opportunities for the enhancement of artistic experience for both specialists and those who are new to art, of all ages, from a wide range of cultural backgrounds. This module concernes the devising of learning and public programs, taking into account the nature of the art project, the organising institution, and existing and potential audiences.

    • Audience Development: Marketing and Public Relations

      This module concernes audience development through marketing and public relations, concomitant with learning activity. The promotion of art projects and programmes to a large extent determines the size and types of audiences, either attending or following through media, increasingly online. Also critical response, e.g. reviews, is significantly affected by marketing and PR, according to how effectively they convey the proposition of the art project and the organising institution. 

    • Biennials and international exhibitions

      Biennials, triennials and other such international exhibitions are increasingly important, attracting large audiences to particular cities. Often initiated to boost tourism or urban renewal, they are platforms for current artistic and curatorial practice – in the best cases, providing audiences with an informed understanding of aspects of contemporary art. This module will capitalise on the proximity of the Venice Biennale and the presence of many international curators in the city during the event.

    • Operators in Contemporary Art System

      Non-profit art organisations and the commercial art world are mutually dependent, with the strength of the latter noticeably increasing in these days of globalised economies, as evidenced by the rise of art fairs, multi-national galleries and auction houses. Significantly, a number of art galleries now present exhibitions that are as authoritative as museum shows. This module investigates those institutions that are concerned essentially with the selling of art. 

  • Practice

    • Curating and Projec

      The last part of the Master course is dedicated to curating activity and exhibition design. Students, in group or alone, work on specific curatorial ideas so to develop real project’s proposal, in collaboration with international curators.

Remarkable is that teacher who accomplishes himself what he teaches to others.
(Italian proverb)

IED faculty are professionals that daily face the market. Here you can read their bios.

Jonathan Watkins - Course coordinator

Jonathan Watkins - Course coordinator
Jonathan Watkins has been Director of Ikon Gallery since 1999. He has been working in London for years as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery and Director of Chisenhale Gallery. He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney, Quotidiana, Tate Triennial, Shanghai Biennale, Sharjah Biennial. He was on the curatorial team for Europarte, Milano Europa 2000 and Riwaq . He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale 2013 and has written extensively on contemporary art.

Salvador Nadales

Salvador Nadales
Art Historian with an MA in Museology. He collaborates with the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid since 2006, first as Curator of Photography Collection, then as Responsible of Institutional Relations for the Collections department. He is author of essays and articles about photography, contemporary art and museology. 

Teresita Scalco

Teresita Scalco
Art and Design Historian, she holds a Phd in Museology of Design beeing visiting researcher at the Istanbul Bilgi University and SALT. After the specialisation at the World Heritage Center of UNESCO in Paris, for her BA thesis she received a grant from the University of California Santa Barbara, where she studied feminist art critics, visual arts and photography. Current research interest’s aim at studying themes related to the intersections between arts, design and architecture and explore the ethical and educational role of curatorial practices.  

Sarah Cosulich

Sarah Cosulich
She studied in Washington D.C, Berlin and London and started her carrier with Francesco Bonami at the 50th Venice Biennale, working later as curator at the Villa Manin Centre for Contemporary Art. From 2012 to 2017, she directed Artissima, international fair of contemporary art in Torino, and contributed to making the fair one of the most experimental events of international contemporary art scene. She collaborates with Italian and international universities and her publications includes monographs on Jeff Koons (2006) and Gabriel Orozco (2008).

Caroline Corbetta

Caroline Corbetta
She is a Curator obsessed by promoting contemporary art among the public and discovering emerging talents. Her interdisciplinary approach enables her to range from the artistic direction of institutional pavilions, such as Expo Gate for Expo Milano 2015, to projects such as Il Crepaccio, a Milan showcase for young talents. Corbetta jostles curating shows and public projects for international companies and institutions such as the Moderna Museet of Stockholm or Performa in New York with contributing for a variety of magazines such as Mousse, Vogue Italia and Domus.

Roberto Fassone

Roberto Fassone
Italian Artist based in Florence, he explores the processes and strategies regulating the production of contemporary artworks. He exhibited and performed his works at Carroll/Fletcher in London, Mart in Rovereto, ZHdK in Zurich, MARS Gallery in Melbourne, MAMbo in Bologna and Museo La Ene in Buenos Aires, among the others.

Marie Muracciole

Marie Muracciole
She is Art Critic and Curator, based in Beirut and Paris. From 2005 to 2011, she is Director of the Cultural Department of Jeu de Paume, Paris. From 2012 to 2016, she is Teacher of Film Theory at École Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. Since 2014, she is Director of Beirut Art Center, Beirut. As a Curator she worked with Allan Sekula, Yto Barrada, Claude Closky, among many others, and published extensively with Greyroom, JRP Ringier, Editions de l’ENSBA, Electa, Cahiers du MNAM and Texte zur Kunst.

Claudio Cravero

Claudio Cravero
Since 2014, he is Curator in Chief at The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Saudi Arabia, where he has been investigating the relationships between cultural identity and public censorship across the Gulf Region. His research focuses on the broader field of cultural ecology through socially engaged art projects and exhibitions. He is also author of articles for art magazines and blogs, and he wrote a series of essays that has been collected in more than fifteen publications. 

Lucy Wheeler

Lucy Wheeler
She is a Freelance Learning Manager with a broad experience gained working in several museums and galleries. She collaborates with formal and informal learning groups, using her experience to deliver creative projects onsite and offsite, developing volunteer and public programmes. Recently, she has been Head of Learning at the Ikon Gallery and previously worked in learning teams at Kettle’s Yard, the Wallace Collection and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. 

Hesperia Iliadou de Subplajo-Suppiej

Hesperia Iliadou de Subplajo-Suppiej
Professor of History of Art and Architecture, educated in TUAthens and the Bartlett University of London. She is also an awarded Architect, specialised in the role of museum design within urban regeneration processes. Since 2014, she is Commissioner for the Cyprus Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and is currently Curator of the inaugural exhibition celebrating Cyprus as European Capital of Culture in 2017.

Margot Helen Black

Margot Helen Black
She currently works at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London as a Senior Development Manager on the Major Gifts team. She is Responsible for Managing Relationships with high-net-worth individuals, trusts and foundations, and companies, and leads on all exhibition sponsorship at The Courtauld Gallery.