John Elderfield

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John Elderfield (born 25 April 1943)[1] was Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from 2003 to 2008.[1] He is currently the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Distinguished Curator at the Princeton University Art Museum and Lecturer in the Princeton University Department of Art and Archaeology.[2][3]


Elderfield studied the history of art at the University of Manchester and the University of Leeds. He received his PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1975.[4]

In 1974, Elderfield edited and introduced the diary of the Zurich Dada artist Hugo Ball, Hugo Ball: the flight out of time. This publications was revised in 1996.

Elderfield joined the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as Curator of Painting and Sculpture in 1975. He served the Museum as Chief Curator at Large from 1993 to 2003. As Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum, he reinstalled that collection in 2004 in its newly rebuilt premises.

Elderfield had published studies of Henri Matisse, Kurt Schwitters, Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn, Howard Hodgkin,[1] and Pierre-Paul Prud'hon. In 1986, Elderfield received the Eric Mitchell Prize for his book on Schwitters.

Elderfield contributed a catalog essay to the exhibition of Bob Dylan's paintings at the National Gallery of Denmark from September 2010 until April 2011[5][6]

He served on the board of the Dedalus Foundation, the Members’ Board of the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C, the American Advisory Committee of the Courtauld Institute of Art, the American Committee of the Praemium Imperiale, and the Advisory Committee of the Kate Weare Dance Company; was a Member of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers, and an Honorary Member of Proyecto Armando Reverón, Caracas.[7]


Elderfield received the award of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government. In 2005, Time Magazine included Elderfield on their list of the 100 most influential people of 2005.


  • Flight out of Time: a Dada Diary (University of California Press, 1974; revised 1996) ISBN 978-0-520-20440-9
  • Kurt Schwitters (New edition 1987), Thames & Hudson, ISBN 978-0-500-27474-3
  • Modern Painting And Sculpture: 1880 to Present at the Museum of Modern Art ISBN 0-87070-576-8
  • Henri Matisse: A retrospective ISBN 0-87070-432-X
  • Helen Frankenthaler ISBN 0-8109-0916-2
  • Language of the Body: drawings by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon ISBN 0-8109-3585-6


  1. ^ a b c Who’s Who 2011, A&C Black, 2011
  2. ^ "News at Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum names Elderfield distinguished curator, lecturer". December 22, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  3. ^ "John Elderfield, Former Chief Curator at Museum of Modern Art, to Join the Princeton University Art Museum". December 19, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Battersby, Matilda (September 2, 2010). "Bob Dylan paintings at Danish National Gallery". The Independent. London. Retrieved September 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "Bob Dylan. The Brazil Series". Statens Museum for September 1, 2010. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  7. ^ John Elderfield Archived 2012-01-31 at the Wayback Machine Dedalus Foundation, New York.