From 1967 to 1975, Livingston was curator of 20th-century art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She was editor of the Richard Diebenkorn Catalogue Raisonné and now works as an independent curator.
In 1975 she became associate director and chief curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, but resigned in 1989, prompted by the Corcoran's cancellation of a show of work by photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Livingston had been on sabbatical, writing a book under a Guggenheim Fellowship when the show was cancelled ; when she returned, she made it clear that she would not have cancelled the show. Livingston had arranged the show which was financed in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
She is known for organizing a major museum exhibition of Chicano art, and, together with Marcia Tucker, the first major museum exhibition of Bruce Nauman. Other exhibitions include her show of National Geographic, "illustrative" photography; she and curator John Beardsley, also curated an exhibition of black outsider artists in 1982. This show "marked an explosion of interest in the work of African American artists." Livingston curated a show of John Alexander's works at the Smithsonian in 2008.
Livingston is the author and co-author of numerous books and catalogs. Her work on The Art of Richard Diebenkorn (1997) helped produce a book that collected the most important works of Richard Diebenkorn, who had been under-represented in publishing.
- Livingston, Jane (1972). Bruce Nauman: Work from 1965 to 1972. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ISBN 9780875870519.
- Livingston, Jane; Beardsley, John; Perry, Regenia (1982). Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980. Jackson: University Press of Mississippii. OCLC 564711070.
- Livingston, Jane (1984). Ad Reinhardt. Washington, D.C.: Cocoran Gallery of Art. OCLC 563138463.
- Livingston, Jane; Krauss, Rosalind E.; Ades, Dawn (1985). L'Amour Fou: Photography & Surrealism. New York: Abbeville Press. OCLC 560453860.
- Livingston, Jane; Elderfield, John; Fine, Ruth (1997). The Art of Richard Diebenkorn. Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520212572.
- Livingston, Jane (1992). The New York School: Photographs, 1936-1963. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. ISBN 9781556702396.
- Livingston, Jane (1994). The Art of Photography at National Geographic. Köln: Evergreen/Benedikt Taschen. ISBN 9783822893111.
- Livingston, Jane; Nochlin, Linda; Lee, Yvette Y. (2002). The Paintings of Joan Mitchell. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520235687.
- "Modern Art in Los Angeles: Women Curators in Los Angeles". The Getty Research Institute. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- Lewis, Jo Ann (December 14, 1992). "PORTRAIT OF A CURATOR: LIFE AFTER THE CORCORAN". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
- Parachini, Allan. "Chief Curator at Corcoran Resigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
- "Chief Curator at Corcoran Resigns". L.A. Times. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- Lewis, Jo Ann (14 September 1998). "Corcoran Gallery's Longtime No. 2 Resigns". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Gamarekian, Barbara (14 September 1989). "Curator for Mapplethorpe Show Resigns Corcoran Posts". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Kimmelman, Michael (9 June 1989). "30 Hispanic Artists at Brooklyn Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Richard, Paul (4 June 1988). "The Magnificent 'Odyssey'; At the Corcoran, Geographic's World, Up Front & Up Close". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 March 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
- Smith, Roberta (8 March 2002). "'A Return to January 1982' -- The Corcoran Show Revisited". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- Amaki, Amalia K. (2006). "The Power of Color in the Art World". The Crisis. Retrieved 28 March 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)).
- Breal, Jordan (May 2008). "A Dark Visionary". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 28 March 2016 – via GALE. (Subscription required (help)).
- Hurley, Patricia (June 1998). "A Neglected Master". Art Book. 5 (3): 11–12. Retrieved 28 March 2016 – via EBSCO. (Subscription required (help)).