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[The Guardian] The big picture: remembering Okwui Enwezor, a giant of the art world
by The Guardian « on: November 16, 2020, 01:01:39 PM »




The big picture: remembering Okwui Enwezor, a giant of the art world

The pioneering curator and mentor to Steve McQueen pictured before the opening of his landmark 2002 MoMa show, The Short Century

Steve McQueen, our guest editor, chose this portrait of Okwui Enwezor to open this special edition of the New Review. It shows Enwezor, arguably the most influential curator of his generation, at the opening of his 2002 show The Short Century at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition, which featured 48 living artists, revealed work that was intimately interwoven with African art and independence movements from the previous five decades. Later that year, his Documenta 11 exhibition in Germany, definitively remapped the art world, dismantling its “exoticising” view of non-western modernism.

Enwezor had grown up in southern Nigeria, his family displaced several times during the Biafran war. Coming to study in New York, and not “overly awed or impressed by what the art world was throwing up”, he launched a magazine, Nka, which would “advocate for art rooted in Africa but global in scope”. He died last year, aged 55. His obituary in the New York Times quoted from a review of the MoMa show, calling it “one of those rare occasions when the usually hyperbolic term ‘landmark exhibition’ is not an overstatement”.

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