Alex Farquharson Named New Director of Tate Britain

Alex Farquharson
Photo: David Baird

Alex Farquharson, founding director of Nottingham Contemporary, has been appointed the new director of Tate Britain.

He will take up the post this fall. Farquharson will replace outgoing director Penelope Curtis, who will take a position at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.

Farquharson said that he is “delighted” to start his new role in a statement: “As the home of 500 years of British art, Tate Britain has a unique and fascinating position in the cultural life of the nation. I look forward to working with a highly skilled and experienced team of curators to share these histories with audiences of all kinds.”

Penelope CurtisPhoto via: Zimbio

Penelope Curtis.
Photo: via Zimbio

The 45-year old Farquharson, who launched Nottingham Contemporary in 2009, has been credited with turning the contemporary art center into one of the leading visual arts institutions in the UK. The opening exhibition showed works by David Hockney from the 1960s, to widespread public acclaim. Since then, the gallery has maintained its popularity—in the first five years of its existence, it has already attracted over one million visitors.

Prior to his position there, Farquharson, an established curator of British art, co-curated the “British Art Show 6” (2005-6), and “Glenn Ligon: Encounters and Collisions” currently on view at Tate Liverpool. He was on the selection committee for the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009, which featured the work of Steve McQueen (the artist currently has a photograph titled Lynching Tree (2013) in the exhibition “Fighting History,” on view at Tate Britain until September).

Farquharson also sits on the Arts Council Collection’s acquisitions committee and on the board of Spitalfields gallery Raven Row.

Sir Nicholas Serota studied Italian Renaissance painting at Cambridge and wrote his graduate thesis on Turner. Photo via:

Sir Nicholas Serota.  
Photo: via

The appointment comes after a year of much commotion at Tate. In April, Curtis announced that she is leaving Tate Britain after a tumultuous five-year tenure, during which she had been viciously criticized for many of her curatorial decisions. Earlier this year,  called her “Sculpture Victorious” show “an epic fail” for its “high-minded kitsch and bluster” in the Guardian.

Shortly after her announcement, Tate Modern director Chris Dercon announced that he will be leaving his position in 2017 to take the reins at the Volksbühne Theater in Berlin.

Tate director Nicholas Serota said in a statement that Farquharson “has established…one of the leading art galleries in the UK [and] he has created a programme that serves local and national audiences, working closely with artists and reflecting history as well as the present.”

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