Daniel Birnbaum

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Daniel Birnbaum in 2017.

Daniel Birnbaum (born 10 July 1963) is a Swedish art critic. Since 2010, he has been director of the Moderna Museet, the museum of modern art in Stockholm.

Life and career[edit]

Birnbaum was born in Stockholm. He studied at Stockholm University, Freie Universität Berlin in Germany and Columbia University in New York. While in New York, Birnbaum also began to write for Artforum.[1] In 1998, he completed his doctorate in philosophy at Stockholm University.

Also in 1998, Birnbaum became director of Sweden's International Artists Studio Program (IASPIS), a position he held until 2000. Between 2001 and 2010, he held the position of Rector at the Städelschule fine arts academy in Frankfurt am Main in Germany. During that time, he also served as director of Portikus, an exhibition space at the Städelschule since 1987. In 2008, he was a member of the Turner Prize jury.

Birnbaum has been the director of Moderna Museet since 2010. He is also currently an adjunct board member of the Hilma Af Klint Foundation and a contributing editor at Artforum. In 2018, he announced that he will leave his post to head up Acute Art, a company with an interest in creating virtual-reality and augmented-reality works in collaboration with artists.[2]


In 2007, Birnbaum published Teaching Art: Staedelschule Frankfurt am Main and has subsequently written on Olafur Eliasson, Pierre Huyghe, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Wolfgang Tillmans, Cerith Wyn Evans and Paul Chan. His latest book is Under Pressure (Frankfurt 2008). In addition to articles published in international art magazines such as Artforum and frieze, he also produced a series of academic texts and translations on Novalis, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Gottlob Frege, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jacques Derrida and Thomas Bernhard.

Curator career[edit]

While teaching, Birnbaum also pursued curatorial work.[3] He was co-curator of the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) as well as the director of the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). He has been the curator of institutions and exhibitions in many countries, for which he has produced catalogue entries:

  • 2008, he was co-curator of the Triennial of Yokohama and curator of the 2nd Triennial of Turin
  • 2006 and 2007, he was co-curator of Airs de Paris at the Centre Pompidou, of Uncertain States of America (with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Gunnar B. Kvaran) at Bard College of London's Serpentine Gallery, and of the 2nd Biennial of Moscow
  • 2005, co-curator of the 1st Biennial of Moscow
  • 2003, co-curator of the international section of the 50th Biennale di Venezia International Art Exhibition
  • 2004–present, associate curator of the Magasin 3 exhibition space in Stockholm
  • 2001–present, member of the board of Manifesta in Amsterdam

Birnbaum also serves on the jury for the first Future Generation Art Prize.[4]