Not diplomatic enough to please the right people
Words: Eleni Papaioannou / Photo: Andrea Pugiotto

When did you discover your talent for curating? Was it when you went to New York and you exposed yourself to contemporary art?
No, it was when I failed as an artist, and to be a curator is the next closest thing to being an artist. I don’t even really know which talent it takes to be a talented curator… but I guess on some occasions in my life I have done some talented exhibitions.
Which one is your favorite?
Unfinished History, 1998 Walker Art Center. It anticipated many other shows about globalization or immigration.
How do you know, besides your expertise, if something is right, if a work of art is brilliant? Is it a gut feeling, the way it makes you feel, the reaction you have to it?
The secret to knowing if something is right is to never think you have to do the right thing. Most of the time, the people who are right at a long distance seem very wrong, or maybe not “very”, but just wrong. To do the right thing you have to do many, many wrong things. It is like collecting. To have a collection of good art you need to collect also a lot of crap… a lot.
Lately we have seen artists, even musicians, curating. What does it mean to be a curator today, what is a curator’s role in today’s art world, how has it evolved?
Everybody is a curator because nobody is. But sometimes you see shows where a curator was needed and they did not have one.
If everyone is a curator and yet nobody is, what really makes a curator, then? 
Not sure, maybe the capacity to apply to your practice what the Hebrews in the Kabbalah call “Tzimtzum”, which means “God stepping back or contracting in order to allow the world that was created by him the freedom to express itself”.
Is art elitist? Is it even more elitist today?
Art is elitist but today people want to go to see art more than ever, so being elitist is the problem of the art world, not of the people who go and see it.
Have you ever found art out of the box, away from galleries, museums and exhibitions?
Yes, a few times… but most of the times I should have left it where I found it… those artists were living much better away from the art world.
What are you tired of seeing in the art scene?
People posting pictures on Instagram.
What makes, for you, a good young artist?
The best good young artist is a dead one… Basquiat, Haring, Palermo, Pascali, Gnoli, etc. etc…..


If there is a star curator out there, Francesco Bonami definitely fits the profile. The international contemporary art influencer carries the hot blood of his Italian ancestry alongside the clinical eye of an experienced and yet surprisingly fresh visual outlook.

Never holding back, strongly opinionated and extremely intelligent, he talked to us about what makes a good artist, betting on the right horse again and again and why they would probably never give him another Biennial.  (NOMAS, Venice p.20)