Jane Farver, Former MIT List Head and Queens Museum Curator, Has Died in Venice

Farver shined a light on non-Western artists through major traveling shows.

Jane Farver. Photo courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Jane Farver. Photo courtesy MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Curator and museum administrator Jane Farver has died in Venice, where she was working with Joan Jonas on her presentation for the American Pavilion of the Venice Biennale. A press representative at the Queens Museum, where she was director of exhibitions during the 1990s, confirmed the news. The cause of her death has not yet been announced, but artnet News’ sources indicate that she died from a heart attack. She was 68.

“Jane was truly a curatorial trailblazer,” Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, told artnet News via phone.

“I really admired her work, especially her ‘Global Conceptualism’ exhibition, which blew my mind,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator Franklin Sirmans told artnet News.

One of her best-known projects was the 1999 Queens Museum show “Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin 1950s-1980s,” which traveled to the Walker Art Center, the Miami Art Museum and the List at MIT. Artforum called the show, which included work by well over 100 artists and collectives, one of the most important of the decade in recognition of its revisionist take on the history of Conceptual art.

“So few New York curators were willing to stick their neck out for artists from around the world,” Sirmans said. “It’s the norm now but not then. It wasn’t happening in galleries at that time. That show speaks of great ambition, and of someone who’s deeply connected to the world beyond the confines of the art world. She had no fear of taking risks.”

Farver was consulting director since 2012 for Prospect New Orleans, and had organized the Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale in South Korea in 2011.

“Jane was the kind of invaluable curator and quintessential administrator that always put the artist first—in her exhibitions, writings, and teaching,” Brooke Davis Anderson, executive director of Prospect New Orleans, said in an email. “Jane was a mentor to many women, particularly those in leadership positions since Jane held many top positions during her career.”

Farver was an enthusiastic board member of Brooklyn, New York’s International Studio and Curatorial Program, said ISCP executive director Susan Hapgood.

“Jane was such a great leader and advocate for artists and curators, a voice of integrity and reason for ISCP,” Hapgood told artnet News.

Farver headed the MIT List Visual Arts Center from 1999 to 2011. While there, she organized solo exhibitions and projects by artists including Mel Chin, Michael Joo, Paul Pfeiffer, Runa Islam, and Tavares Strachan. During Farver’s tenure, the List organized presentations for two international art biennials: the 9th Cairo Biennial, where she was co-commissioner for the American representative, Paul Pfeiffer; and the 49th Venice Biennale, with Fred Wilson at the U.S. Pavilion. She also oversaw a percent-for-art program, and initiated artist and curatorial residencies.

As chief curator at the Queens Museum, a post she held from 1992 until 1999, she helped to put the institution on the map with “Global Conceptualism.” While there, she also organized the exhibitions “Across the Pacific: Contemporary Korean and Korean American Art,” “Cai Guo-Qiang, Cultural Melting Bath: Projects for the 20th Century,” and “Out of India: Contemporary Art of the South Asian Diaspora.”

Among her other curatorial credits, Farver was one of six guest curators at the 2000 Whitney Biennial. She was the co-commissioner of Paul Pfeiffer’s entry in the 2003 Cairo Biennale.

Her previous posts include the directorship at Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, New York; director at Tomoko Liguori Gallery, New York; assistant director and curator at the Alternative Museum, New York; and director of Spaces, in Cleveland.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics