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Cameron's early years were spent in Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and in Hudson Falls, New York. He attended Hudson Falls Public Schools (1966–1974), Syracuse University (1975–76) and Bennington College (1977–79), where he earned a BA in 1979.
Some of Cameron's early exhibitions include Extended Sensibilities (1982, New Museum of Contemporary Art); Art and its Double (1986–87, Fundacion 'la Caixa,' Barcelona and Madrid); What is Contemporary Art? (1989, Roosem, Malmo); The Savage Garden (1991, Fundacion 'la Caixa,' Madrid); and Cocido y Crudo (1994, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid).
Cameron was senior curator at the New Museum from 1995 to 2006, where his exhibitions included survey and new-work exhibitions of David Wojnarowicz (1999), Xu Bing (1998), Martin Wong (1998), Carolee Schneemann (1998), Francesco Vezzoli (2002), Carroll Dunham (2002), Teresita Fernández, William Kentridge (2001), Cildo Meireles (1999–2000), Los Carpinteros (1998), Nalini Malani (2002-3), Christian Marclay, Paul McCarthy (2001), Cildo Meireles (1999–2000), Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (2003), Marcel Odenbach (1998), Pierre et Gilles (2000–2001), Ana Prada (1998), Faith Ringgold (1998), Doris Salcedo (1998), John Salvest (1998), Rivane Neuenschwander (1998), Bili Bidjocka (1998), and Eugenio Dittborn (1997). Cameron also organized group exhibitions such as Living Inside the Grid (2003) and East Village USA (2004).
Istanbul and Taipei Biennials
In 2003 Cameron served as Artistic Director for the 8th Istanbul Biennial, entitled Poetic Justice, and in 2006 he co-organized the 10th Taipei Biennial, Dirty Yoga. In 2006 he was the curator of New York, Interrupted at PKM Gallery Beijing, the first independent exhibition of recent American art in China. In 2010 he was guest professor for the International Curator Course of the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea.
In 2008, as guest curator for the Orange County Museum of Art, Cameron presented a five-decade retrospective of the American painter Peter Saul. He has served as senior curator for Next Wave Visual Art at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), an annual exhibition of emerging Brooklyn-based artists since 2002. He is also a member of the graduate faculty of School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York, where he teaches the MFA symposium each spring for second-year students. Cameron is a member of the board of advisors of Hermitage Artist Retreat in Florida, and sits on the board of directors for Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.
Cameron is founder and artistic director of U.S. Biennial, Inc, a not-for-profit (501c3) organization that produces Prospect New Orleans, a new international biennial whose first edition opened in November 2008 at multiple sites around the city, and closed in January 2009. Prospect.1 was the largest contemporary art biennial in U.S. history, with 80 artists from around the world in 24 venues with a total of nearly 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2). From 2007 to 2010 Cameron also served as Director of Visual Arts for the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, where he presented solo projects by artists like Luis Cruz Azaceta, Tony Feher and Peter Saul, as well as the group exhibitions Something from Nothing, Make-it-Right, Previously on Piety, Interplay, and Hot Up Here.
Cameron is a frequently published writer on contemporary art, with hundreds of museum catalogs essays, book texts, and magazine articles to his credit. His most recent publications include critical essays for Alexandre Arrechea: Todo Algo Nada (2009, Centro de Ate, Caja de Burgos, Spain); Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth (2009, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco); and Skylar Fein: Youth Manifesto (2009, New Orleans Museum of Art).
- Cameron, Dan (31 March 2015). "OCMA lays off five staffers including chief curator Dan Cameron". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- "Bio | Eugenio Dittborn". Frith Street Gallery. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
- MacCash, Doug (2 March 2010). "Prospect.1 founder Dan Cameron leaving CAC". The Times-Picuyune. Retrieved 13 June 2011.