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Helen Molesworth

Helen Molesworth

American art historian
Helen Molesworth
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American art historian
Is Historian Art historian Curator
From United States of America
Type Arts Academia Social science
Gender female
The details


Helen Molesworth is an American curator of contemporary art.

Most recently, she was the Chief Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. After her arrival in Los Angeles in 2014 she reinstalled MOCA's permanent collection galleries, co-organized a survey exhibition of Kerry James Marshall that traveled to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, organized Anna Maria Maiolino’s first US retrospective, and forged a partnership between MOCA and The Underground Museum. Her final exhibition at MOCA was a 2018 exhibition One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art, which traced the legacy of Farber's "termite art" ideology on a wide range of contemporary artists, including many from Molesworth's own curatorial history. From 2010-2014 she was the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, where she assembled one person exhibitions of artists Steve Locke, Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman, and the group exhibitions Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, Dance/Draw, and This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. As head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum, she presented an exhibition of photographs by Moyra Davey and ACT UP NY: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis 1987-1993. From 2002 to 2007 she was the Chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts where she organized the first US retrospectives of Louise Lawler and Luc Tuymans, as well as Part Object Part Sculpture, which examined the influence of Marcel Duchamp's erotic objects. While Curator of Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art from 2000-2002, she arranged Work Ethic, which traced the problem of artistic labor in post-1960s art. She is the author of numerous catalogue essays and her writing has appeared in publications such as Artforum, Art Journal, Documents, and October. The recipient of the 2011 Bard Center for Curatorial Studies Award for Curatorial Excellence, she is currently at work on a book about "what art does."

In 2018, Helen Molesworth was abruptly fired from MOCA Los Angeles without reported cause. Her departure left the art world in an uproar. The curator resurfaced in 2019 in a Cultured Magazine article by Sarah Thornton saying of the incident: “It was a total debacle." To date, Molesworth's Mastry retrospective has been MOCA's most widely attended exhibition in the museum's history.

Molesworth was the commencement speaker for the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture in June 2018. She is currently "Curator in Residence" at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen, CO.

Selected exhibitions

  • Kerry James Marshall: Mastry. 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; 2016-2017, Met Breuer; 2017, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.
  • Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. 2015-2016, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; 2016, Hammer Museum. Curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erickson. The Hammer Museum's presentation organized by Anne Ellegood with MacKenzie Stevens and January Parkos Arnall.
  • MOCA: The Art of Our Time. 2015, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles.
  • Amy Sillman: One Lump or Two. 2013-2014, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
  • This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s. 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Helen Molesworth guest curator.
  • Catherine Opie: Empty and Full. 2011, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.
  • Luc Tuymans. 2009, Wexner Center for the Arts; 2010, Dallas Museum of Art; 2010-2011, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Helen Molesworth

Selected publications

  • ONE DAY AT A TIME : manny farber and termite art, Molesworth, Helen. PRESTEL ART, 2018
  • Duchamp: By Hand, Even, Molesworth, Helen. Wien Verlag für Moderne Kunst 2017
  • Leap before you look : Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, Molesworth, Helen. Boston : Institute of contemporary art in association with Yale University press
  • Molesworth, Helen. "How to Install Art as a Feminist." Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art. Ed. Connie Butler, Ed. Alexandra Schwartz. Published by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. 2014.
  • Amy Sillman : one lump or two, Molesworth, Helen. New York : DelMonico Books Prestel, 2013.
  • Louise Lawler, Molesworth, Helen. Cambridge, Massachusetts MIT Press, 2013.
  • Klara Lidén bodies of society, Molesworth, Helen. New York, N.Y. New Museum 2012
  • This will have been : art, love, & politics in the 1980s, Molesworth, Helen. Chicago : Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago ; London ; New Haven (Conn.) : Yale University Press, cop. 2012.
  • Catherine Opie: Empty and Full, Molesworth, Helen, ed. Hatje Cantz, Stuttgart, 2011.
  • Dance/Draw : the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Molesworth, Helen. Ostfildern : Hatje Cantz, ©2011.
  • Luc Tuymans : exposition, Palais des beaux-arts de Bruxelles, 18 février-8 mai 2011, Molesworth, Helen. Bruxelles : Ludion, DL 2011.
  • Part Object Part Sculpture, Molesworth, Helen, ed., Penn State Press, 2005.
  • Body Space, Molesworth, Helen. Baltimore Museum of Art, 2001.
  • Work Ethic, Molesworth, Helen. Baltimore Museum of Art, 2003.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 06 Feb 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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