Orange County Museum of Art will Soar with new Chief Curator Dan Cameron

Dan Cameron, the Founder and Chief Curator of Prospect Biennial, the largest international biennial in the United States (in New Orleans), and former Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (1995-2006), has been named Chief Curator at the affluent Orange County Museum of Art. The museum is now in Newport Beach, California, and will move into a Thom Mayne designed new building on the Segerstrom Center for Performing Arts in Costa Mesa, California, near South Coast Plaza, one of the most luxuriously cool and fabulous vast shopping centers in America

Prospect 1 New Orleans welcome sign

Dan Cameron

With Orange County Museum of Art’s hire of Cameron, this brings in yet another world-class curatorial personage into the Southern California region, and specifically and definitely adds to the already heady cultural thrust of the Los Angeles Artworld. Already the now electrified field that will be the 2013 California Biennial and future Cameron curated shows will cause a dramatic shift in the power structure now shared between LACMA, MoCA, The Hammer, and in 2013, the Broad in downtown LA directly across from LA MoCA on Grand Avenue. I can easily foresee Cameron  organizing massive international shows in Los Angeles and Orange County warehouses that garner global media attention.

Update: The California Biennial has been re-envisioned as the California Triennial. It will debut at the OCMA in June of 2013. It will include about one-third California Artists, and two-thirds artists from the entire Pacific Rim, meaning all of Asia and all of Latin America. This is a tremendous leap from showcasing only artists in California, and at once separates this new exhibition from the new LA Biennial, which opens June 2, 2012, as it is international in context and focus. It should be the most rewarding art show in California, as it seeks to engage countries and backers of art, to present a true world class Pacific Rim biennial that is sure to draw global media coverage. The artist list will be announced next year.

OCMA refashions biennial into triennial: (OC Register, May 12, 2012)


Cameron said he’s using the Asia-Pacific Triennial from Brisbane, Australia, as his model. “It really has become the most important recurring Asian art exhibition. I’ve seen it twice. It’s an absolutely brilliant show.”

“The Pacific has replaced the Atlantic as where global commerce and global international exchange happens,” said Cameron, 55. “We really wanted to raise the bar for art happening in California and see the work in an international context.”

Dan Tague

Leandro Erlich

Chief Curator Dan Cameron’s appointment starts in January of 2012. Already on the table is the California Biennial for 2013 (which initially seemed to lose its place when the inaugural LA Biennial that opens in 2012 and will showcase only young art was announced). According to the Orange County Register, Cameron will curate the first ever large-scale exhibition showcasing the private collections of Modern and Contemporary Art in Orange County, one of the most affluent regions of the U.S. This event alone will place the now quiet Orange County art collecting activities in both the international spotlight and in direct competition with the private art collections in Los Angeles. I cannot wait to read the catalog for this exhibition when it becomes available.

Cameron’s curatorial history is long and powerful. In 1982 he curated the first ever museum exhibition of gay and lesbian art in the U.S. at the New Museum, in an exhibition entitled Extended Sensibilities.

In 1986 Cameron curated the exhibition entitled Art & Its Double at the Fundacion ‘la Caixa.” The exhibition was held in both Barcelona and Madrid and was the first European museum exhibition of the works of Jeff Koons, Phillip Taafe, Haim Steinbach and Peter Halley. (I recall that Halley had critical theory reading group during the 1980’s in New York.)

According to the Orange County Museum of Art’s press release, Cameron was also at this time researching contemporary Spanish Art, and was the first international critic to write about artists such as Susana Solano and Juan Munoz and Juan Ulse.

In 1988 Cameron curated an exhibition that introduced several artists into the global context of the Venice Biennale. These artists included Mike Kelly, Ilya Kabakov, Barbara Bloom, Carroll Dunham, Yasumasa Morimura and Tatsuo Miyajima, and many others.

According to the museum’s press release, Cameron then embarked upon a research campaign into the cultures of South America and the Carribean. He then presented room scale installations in 1991 in an exhibition entitled The Savage Garden, which included works by Charles Ray, Ann Hamilton, Christian Marclay and Barbara Bloom, as well as projects by Cuban born Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Venezualian born Meyer Vaisman. Cameron’s third curatorial expression on Spain was at the Museo Renia Sophia in Madrid. Entitled Cocida y Crudo, it entailed displaying the works and working closely with 70 artists in 40 different countries. Appearing in this exhibition included artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Gabriel Orozco, Marlene Dumas and Rirkit Tirvanija. The press release states that in 2010, on the 25th anniversary of the (300,000 square foot) museum’s début, Spanish critics hailed this show as the most important one in the museum’s entire history.

8th International Istanbul Bienal: From left to right: Gorgun Taner General Manager, Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (organising institution of the Biennial), Sevisimin Comert Birced General Manager, Japan Tabacco International, Turkey (main sponsor of the 8th Istanbul Biennial), Dan Cameron Curator, 8th International Istanbul Biennial, Emre Baykal Director, International Istanbul Biennial

In 2005 Cameron curated the Istanbul Biennial. The artists under his wing in this enterprise include such world-class art stars such as Do-Ho Suh, Fiona Tan, Mike Nelson, Doris Salcedo, Monika Sosnowska Kendal Geers, Monica Bonvinici, David Almejd, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Jorge Macchi, and Pascale Martine Tayou.

Do-Ho Suh

Mike Nelson

After this exciting curatorial endeavor Cameron curated an edition of ev+a in Limerick, Ireland. Then Cameron followed this up by serving as curator for the 2006 Taipei Biennial, entitled Dirty Yoga.

Here is Dan Cameron’s CV from the 2006 Taipei Biennial website:

“Dan Cameron

Since 1995, Dan Cameron has been Senior Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, where he has organized exhibitions of William Kentridge, Paul McCarthy, Rivane Neuenschwander, Francesco Vezzoli, Cildo Meireles, Faith Ringgold, Pierre et Gilles, Doris Salcedo, Carolee Schneemann, Carroll Dunham, David Wojnarowicz, and Martin Wong, along with such group exhibitions as Living inside the Grid and East Village USA.

A specialist in global art, Cameron served as curator for the 8th Istanbul Biennial in 2003, and is currently curator of the Tapei 2006 Biennial, which opens at the Taipei Museum of Fine Arts in Nov 06. He has also organized international contemporary art exhibitions throughout the world, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Russia, and Sweden.

A frequent essayist for museum and trade publications on contemporary art, Cameron’s most recent publications include an exhibition catalog essay on Cai Guo-Qiang for the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin (Aug 06) and a fictional memoir for a book based on the work of Stephen Dean (Sept 06).

Cameron teaches critical theory as a member of the graduate faculty of the School of Visual Arts’ MFA program, and at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.

© 2006 TAIPEI BIENNIAL. All Rights Reserved.”

5th Edition of the Taipei Biennial, curated by Dan Cameron

Taipei Biennial

Taipei Biennial

Here is an excerpt from Dan Cameron’s essay entitled Poetic Justice for the Istanbul Biennial:

One World

What is the purpose of art within today’s conflicted and fragmented societies? Can art’s meanings have a significant impact beyond its self-defined community of supporters and practitioners? Does society’s demonstrated need to protect and preserve art for future generations reveal a much deeper need to understand and share the workings of another’s consciousness, and to experience firsthand the struggles of human consciousness to push beyond the restraints of given realities? Does the art of today, and by extension poetry, music and other creative forms, reflect more profound aspirations that extend beyond the realms of beauty, pleasure and affinities of taste? Can art provide a model for inter-cultural communication and exchange that can be applied, even indirectly, to situations of greater and more urgent political import? Are contemporary artists and their creations harbingers of an approaching age in which the need to move beyond the limited definitions of self, nation, gender, class and race essential to the survival of the human species as a whole?”

After this Cameron was founding artistic director of Prospect New Orléans, the first edition of which featured 80 artists from 40 countries. Cameron most recently turned over the reigns to Prospect New Orléans to LACMA Chief Contemporary Art Curator Franklin Sirmans.

Louise Ehrlich

Dan Cameron’s career as an art critics and art writer spans over several hundred essays in books, magazines and catalogs. He was contributing editor to Arts Magazine from 1983 to 1990, and wrote a widely read column for Art & Auction from 1990 – 1995 called The Critical Edge.

For the Orange County Museum of Art, the New York and International Artworld have been brought to its doorstep. All it needs to do now is build its new cultural palace and follow through with its plans to work with visionary artists and institutions on projects worldwide, and Southern California is in for a great adventure into avant-garde art indeed.

I found this interview with Dan Cameron on Art & Its Double online:

Dan Cameron

In 1986 Dan Cameron curated Art and its Double in Madrid, one of the first exhibitions of the new Manhattan art to be shown in Europe. Similar work was later seen in the Saatchi’s show in London. Here Cameron discusses the rise of this new consumer art.

Peter Hill: The art of the early eighties belonged to the painter, particularly the new figurative painters such as Schnabel, Kiefer, Clemente, and a few years later Campbell, Wiszniewski, Currie and a battalion of Scots, many unsure of their direction, if not of their motivation. Do the late eighties belong to the sculptor?

Dan Cameron: I would give a qualified ‘yes’ to that question, because in addition to
sculpture we are seeing whole new areas being opened up in photography, we are seeing the re-birth of installation work and the advent of neo-conceptualism. Europe and America appear to be jointly leading the way in all of these developments. Louise
Lawler, for example, I would see as a sculptor, or an artist who thinks like a sculptor but is also involved in documentary procedures. Bernhard Prinz fits this category also. I would say that two thirds of what is exciting just now is non-pictorial. A list
of artists working in these areas would have to include Julian Opie, Hamilton Finlay,
Rosemarie Trockel, Katharina Fritsch, Grenville Davis, Mucha, Koons, Steinbach,
McCollum, Bloom, Holzer and Gober. The painting that is going on is more
involved with exploring projects as with Sherrie Levine or one of the most talented young Spanish artists Frederico Guzman whose studio I visited recently.

PH: What parallels do you draw between the work of today’s appropriation
artists, such as Sherrie Levine or Louise Lawler, and their precursors?

DC: Duchampian appropriation was never identified as a separate stylistic practice until
the late 70s because it was previously considered – in the work of Rauschenberg or
Duchamp, for example – merely a tool within a much broader technical repertoire. If
artists like Sherrie Levine or Richard Prince are to be separated from their predecessors
it is because they have narrowed in on the re-represented image as the point of departure for their work. It is this investigative tendency within their art which I believe links them more directly with Pop and Conceptual art than with appropriation’s ‘pioneers’
(a term which I find to be somewhat contradictory in the first place).

PH: What artists are you currently looking at who may not yet have exhibited outside

DC: From my perspective, the primary distinguishing characteristic between
American artists who are successful in Europe versus those who are not is that
the former have gone to Europe to promote themselves. Consequently, artists that I’m
thinking about, but who have not exhibited outside America and who should be
better known would include the 19th century landscapists like Albert Pinkham Ryder as well as pioneer abstractionists such as Burgoyne Diller and John McLaughlin.
In contemporary terms, I would like to see two entire schools of American art
more recognised abroad. One is the abstract painterly tradition represented by
Elizabeth Murray or David Reed (and artists much less known than they are) and the other would be the Pop/folk iconoclastic figurative vein, running from imagists like
H.C. Westermann, Karl Wirsum or Peter Saul, through more freeform work like that of Mike Kelley or Archie Rand. I think that both genres represent a significant development peculiar to American art, and which are a far cry from the diet of American art to which most Europeans are exposed.

PH: Regionalism, from the Manhattan to the Australian or the Scottish variety is a
widely debated issue. I am wary of easy terms such as international or regionalism which often overlap I m of language rather than art?

DC: On the most basic level all art is regional and all art is international. I’ve become
accustomed in recent years towards thinking of groups of artists in terms of cities
rather than countries, because I think that many cities – Berlin or Amsterdam, Los
Angeles or Melbourne – Barcelona or Glasgow – have qualities which are more
apparent in their artists than those aspects which could be ascribed to a national style.
Otherwise, I think the only true provincialism belongs to cities that had had it and lost
it, so to speak – Paris is always the classic example of that. New York hasn’t reached that point, at least not yet. Otherwise, seeing that the international art world is becoming decentralised as opposed to recentralised it is as important to look at
regional work as that which has not been correctly appreciated by the world

PH: Do you see the New York Bad Painters of 1980, such as Richard Bosman, and
the Manhattan neo-geo artists – Halley, Bickerton, Koons – as belonging to the
same movement, ie a movement of quotation?

DC: Actually, the “Bad Painting” movement never seemed to be so much about quotation as it was about a generic approach to style, or painting as a type of social contract. The current crop of painters and sculptors seem to be more interested in art as a type of public language which can theoretically be understood by large numbers of people at the same time. Still, the difference to me between the early 80s
and the late 80s has been the shift from a microcosmic approach ( traditional art value
insularity, politics) to a macrocosmic approach (sociocultural values, legibility,

PH: The exhibition ART AND ITS DOUBLE which you curated and brought to
Spain last year was one of the most exciting to be seen in Europe, certainly
in terms of paradigm change, since A NEW SPIRIT or ZEITGEIST. Are you currently
working on any other exhibitions?

DC: I was the American curator for Aperto 88 section at the Venice Biennale this year, a project that I’m still recovering from. I am a musician on top of everything else, so I’ve actually used this summer to record the demo for my band’s second record. A lot of exhibiting proposals are in the works, but nothing which has been absolutely confirmed. As far as writing is concerned I’m going to lay lower than I have been for the last couple of years, because I’ve felt a bit overextended.

PH: How important are market forces on the collector and on the artist,
especially in relation to the “consumer mirror” that many young artists are holding up to
their public. Where does irony begin and art stop?

DC: The boom in the contemporary art market has been phenomenal during the Age
of Reagan, as everyone expected it to be. This has lead to a heightened
number of opportunists, like advisors and so-called independent curators, as well as a
lot more galleries and individual curators, than there were before. Certainly, the change in aesthetics over the past few years have been in part an attempt to grapple with our
awareness that the art-buying public has suddenly become its most conspicuous audience. This is a full turn away from the street orientated aesthetics of
graffiti and the East Village look which preceded it, and which in retrospect may turn out to have been somewhat I in its outlook. Whether most collectors are aware of the ideological subtext to this shift or not is beside the point, because there are only a
small minority of collectors who buy for other than investment purposes anyway. I think the artists are hyper-aware of this situation, and are making a test case out of
having their cake and eating it, too.

Los Angeles based artist Vincent Johnson at the Spice Table in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Curtains – film prop for sale (2001)

Motel pool – Motel Tangiers my ArtCat website

Johnson will be participating in The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, with a cutout-collage work created especially for the exhibition.

Johnson most recently participated in the début Pulse Fair Los Angeles, with Las Cienegas Projects
Feel free to contact me at
Vincent Johnson Biography as of November 2011
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Soho House, Los Angeles, Palihouse, West Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Locust Projects, Miami, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Europe and Los Angeles. His most recent work, a series of nine grayscale paintings, was shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles in the group show entitled The Optimist’s Parking Lot. He will have a new cutout collage work in the upcoming The Bearden Project at the Studio Museum in Harlem, opening in New York on November 10, 2011. He participated in the inaugural edition of Pulse Fair Los Angeles with Las Cienegas Projects. He is also participating in Locust Projects Miami’s annual benefit exhibition in the late fall of 2011.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1986. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications.


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