Ralph Rugoff Will Be the Curator of 58th Venice Biennale in 2019

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Ralph Rugoff. MARK ATKINS

The Venice Biennale announced this morning that Ralph Rugoff, director of London’s Hayward Gallery since 2006, will be curator of the 58th Venice Biennale, in 2019.

A prolific writer about art for numerous publications, Rugoff was also the artistic director of the 13th Biennale de Lyon in 2015. Prior to the Hayward, he spent six years as director of CCA Wattis Institute, at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Before joining the CCA, he had been an independent curator since the early 1990s.

Rugoff has curated retrospectives and surveys of work by Carsten Höller, Tracey Emin, George Condo, Ed Ruscha, and others. “Psycho Buildings,” his 2008 exhibition at the Hayward, brought together architecture-related works by contemporary artists, among them Do Ho Suh and Ernesto Neto, and was met with positive notices from critics.

In a press release, Biennale president Paolo Baratta said, “The appointment of Ralph Rugoff confirms the Biennale’s primary goal, to qualify the exhibition as a place of encounter between the visitors, the art, and the artists. An exhibition engaging the viewers directly with the artworks in such a way that memory, the unexpected, the possible provocation, the new and the different can stimulate their visions, their minds and their emotions, and offer them the opportunity for a direct experience.”

If one recent project is any indication, Rugoff’s biennale could be quite topical. As curator of the talks program at London’s Frieze Art Fair this past fall, he titled the program after Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway’s infamous phrase “alternative facts.” “We are in a moment when what used to be called reality is something which is being taken very lightly, and treated as a malleable idea,” Rugoff told the Financial Times in September.

The Biennale will run from May 11 to November 24, 2019, with press preview days May 8–10. It opens to the public on Saturday, May 11.