Iwona Blazwick

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Iwona Maria Blazwick
Born (1955-10-14) 14 October 1955 (age 59)
Nationality English
Alma mater Exeter University
Occupation Art critic, lecturer
Known for Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery

Iwona Maria Blazwick OBE (born 14 October 1955)[1] is an art critic, lecturer, director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

Life and career[edit]

Iwona Blazwick was brought up in Blackheath, South East London. (Blazwick is an anglicized form of her original surname Blaszczyk, which is of Polish origin).

Blazwick studied English and Fine Art at Exeter University before becoming an assistant curator at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, under the tutelage of Sandy Nairne, who is now director of the National Portrait Gallery. Her first exhibition was, Objects and Sculpture (1981), which included work by artists Bill Woodrow, Richard Deacon, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.

From 1984 to 1986, Blazwick was Director of AIR Gallery, London.

From 1986 to 1993, she was Director of Exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, where she curated exhibitions of modern and contemporary art.

From 1993 to 1997, Blazwick worked as an independent curator for museums and major public arts projects in Europe and Japan, devising surveys of contemporary artists and commissioning new works of art. During this period she was also commissioning editor for Contemporary Art at Phaidon Press where she created the ongoing book series, Contemporary Artists Monographs and Themes and Movements.

From 1997 to 2001, she was head of Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Modern, where she was responsible for co-curating the installation of the collection and formulating the exhibitions programme.

Blazwick has been Director of the Whitechapel Gallery since 2001. One of her first responsibilities at the Whitechapel Gallery was to overseen a £13.5 million expansion of the building.[2]

Blazwick is Chair of the Cultural Strategy Group at London's City Hall, appointed by Mayor Boris Johnson.[citation needed]

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art in the 2008 New Year Honours. Blazwick is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art (2004) and has received Honorary Doctorates from Plymouth University (2006), the London Metropolitan University (2007), Goldsmiths College (2010), the University of the Arts (2011) and Middlesex University.


Blazwick has curated monographic shows of Sophie Calle, Isa Genzken, Sarah Lucas, Rodney Graham, Rachel Harrison, Paul McCarthy, Jasper Johns, Beatriz Milhazes, Goshka Macuga (Whitechapel Gallery); Katharina Fritsch, (Tate Modern) Art and Language, Willie Doherty, Peter Halley, Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Ilya Kabakov, Barbara Kruger, Meret Oppenheim, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Gerhard Richter, Rosemarie Trockel and Lawrence Weiner, (ICA). Blazwick was visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art and teaches occasionally at Goldsmith's School of Art, Central St. Martins, Middlesex University, the Slade School and Sotheby's MA Course. She has taught abroad at academies in Hamburg, Malmö and Vienna.


Her writings include monographs on Gary Hume (Other Criteria, 2012) and Cornelia Parker (Thames and Hudson, 2013); and contributions to monographs and exhibition catalogues on Hannah Collins, Keith Coventry, Elmgreen and Dragset, Fischli and Weiss, Ceal Floyer, Katharina Fritsch, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Alex Katz, Paul McCarthy, Cornelia Parker, Annie Ratti, Hannah Starkey, Lawrence Weiner and Rachel Whiteread, among others; and anthologies such as Fresh Cream in 2001. She was editor of the Tate Modern: The Handbook and Century City. She also writes art criticism for numerous periodicals. She contributes occasional reviews and commentaries for BBC and Channel Four television and BBC radio. She also wrote the introduction for Talking Art: Interviews with Artists Since 1976, published by Ridinghouse and Art Monthly and featuring the best interviews from the latter's 30-year run.[3] Iwona Blazwick is series editor of Documents of Contemporary Art; co-published with MIT Press these anthologies bring together the most important texts by artists, critics and historians on the big themes in art today, ranging from Participation to Failure.

Juries, Boards and Committees[edit]

Blazwick has sat on certain art prize juries, including the Turner Prize (1993), the Jerwood Painting Prize (1997), the 2002 Wexner Prize (as a member of Ohio's Wexner Center's International Arts Advisory Council), the Clark Prize for Writing (2010/12) and the John Moores Painting Prize (2012). She is Chair of the MaxMara Art Prize for Women and a standing member of the jury for Film London's Jarman Award; and a member of the Fourth Plinth Committee. Iwona Blazwick is also a Trustee of Harewood House, in Yorkshire and a member of the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art advisory committee. She also serves on the advisory board of the Government Art Collection.

Personal life[edit]

Blazwick is married to Canadian academic Richard Noble, who is Head of Department of Art at Goldsmiths College; they have one daughter, Bella.[4] Discussing her leisure time with journalist Marcus Field in 2010, Blazwick said: "Because the art world is so busy and convivial there's a great banquet of opportunities. I try to restrict going out to two times a week."[5]


  1. ^ http://directors.findthebest.co.uk/l/2419807/Iwona-Maria-Blazwick
  2. ^ "Iwona Blazwick on the New Whitechapel. Interview by Oliver Basciano", ARTINFO, 06-04-2009
  3. ^ "Talking Art". Ridinghouse. 
  4. ^ Marcus Field, "Iwona Blazwick: the high priestess of Whitechapel" The Evening Standard, 21 October 2010. Retrieved 07-07-12.
  5. ^ Marcus Field, "Iwona Blazwick: the high priestess of Whitechapel" The Evening Standard, 21 October 2010. Retrieved 07-07-12.

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