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Curator, Writer

Sebastian Lopez

  • CountryArgentina
  • Born1949


Sebastian Lopez is an art historian, curator, and writer. Born in Argentina, Lopez has lived in Amsterdam from 1981.

He was Director of Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and founding CEO of Rivington Place (2007-08); the founding Artistic Director of Daros-Latinamerica / Rio de Janeiro (2005-07; and Director/Artistic Director of the Gate Foundation, Amsterdam (1997-2005), an International Institute for Visual Art and Culture. He was Curator of the Shanghai Biennale 2004.

Lopez obtained his Master’s Degree in Visual Arts and Art History at Tucumán University, Argentina, and followed with post-graduate work in Modern and Contemporary Art, and Theory and Sociology of Art at Complutense University, Madrid; and Linguistics at the School of Linguistics and Literature Studies, Madrid.

In the Netherlands, he has served on various consultative committees and boards including The Council for Culture, The Hague, and the Art Council of Amsterdam. Internationally, he has been a Member of a Special Commission of the Art Council of England and Member of the Nomination Committee for the Hiroshima Art Prize 2000.

Lopez taught History and Theory of Modern Art at Tucumán University, Argentina (1974-76); Jersey City State College, New Jersey, USA (1980); the Art History Institute of Amsterdam University (1981-87); and several graduate and post-graduate courses in the faculties of Visual Arts and Architecture in The Netherlands (1987-97). He has also lectured at the University René Descartes, Paris V (Sorbonne). As Guest Professor at the Art History Institute of Leiden University, The Netherlands, he developed seminars on Latin American Modern and Contemporary Art, a first for Dutch universities.

Lopez is the editor of Van het Post-Modernisme (On Post-Modernism, SUA Publishing House) and Talking Back to the Media, and author of A Short History (Episode Publishers, 2006). He is a contributor to Third Text, London; Lápiz, Madrid; Kunstforum and Neue Bildende Kunst, Berlin; Revue Noire, Paris; and Arte Iberica, Lisbon. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Taipei.

He organised symposia in Johannesburg (1997), Benin (1998) and Bhutan (1998), as well as the very first Central American Symposium – Central Themes (2000) – where a balance has been made of the developments of the visual arts in the region in the 1990s, with the participation of art historians, artists, art critics and curators of all Central American countries.

As an independent curator in the 1980s and 1990s, Lopez curated and co-curated exhibitions in The Netherlands and Europe including Refugees in The Netherlands, 1984; In de ban van de band: A History of Video Art, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1984; Talking Back to the Media, (Photography and Works on Public Spaces) 1985; On Paper, 1988; A City, A World, 1988-89; Double Dutch, 1991; Should I Stay, Should I Go, 1996. He also contributed to Latin American Artists in Europe: Creativity Between Cultures, 1945-1982, Museo Ça Pesaro, Venice, 1992, and Theo van Doesburg / Joaquín Torres-García, ICA, Amsterdam, 1992.

As Artistic Director of the Gate Foundation, he curated solo exhibitions of Fernando Alvim (Angola); Voluspa Jarpa (Chile); a retrospective of Bhupen Khakhar’s (India) work from the 1980s-90s; Keith Piper (UK); Meshac Gaba (Benin); Ken Lum (Canada); and the Dutch artists Gillion Grantsaam, Tarik Alvi and Ni Haifeng. Group exhibitions include The Democracy Show (on issues of democracy in The Netherlands); Not a Chinese Show (on the fashion of country-based exhibitions, taking the case of China); The Archives: On the Index (on indexical questions on artists from other cultures living and working in Europe); Art > Work > Nature (on ideas of nature in diverse countries such as Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica and The Netherlands); and Reading Room (on reading and writing on visual arts). In 2004 he curated A Short History of Dutch Video Art, organised to commemorate 30 years of the medium which toured to Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, San Jose, Costa Rica; Museum Patio Herreriano, Valladolid, Spain; Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland; Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb; and Doulun Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai.

Lopez co-curated with Keith Piper East International and Riverside 2000 at the Norwich Art Gallery, UK. Recently he curated The Hours: Visual Arts of Contemporary Latin America, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. He also recently contributed to the publication Le Parc-Lumiere, a retrospective of Julio Le Parc’s work from the 1960s.

At Iniva he curated Oscar Munoz: Mirror Image – travelling to PICA in Perth, Australia – Hew Locke-The Kingdom of the Blind and Donald Rodney – In retrospect (with Keith Piper).

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