Show Time: The 50 Most Influential Exhibitions of Contemporary Art

Jens Hoffmann (Editor) Hans Ulrich Obrist (Contribution by)
& 6 more


This monumental new book explores the recent history of exhibition-making, looking at the radical shifts that have taken place in the practice of curating contemporary art over the last 20 years. Tracing a history of curating through its most innovative shows, renowned curator Jens Hoffmann selects the 50 key exhibitions that have most significantly shaped the practice of both artists and curators. Chosen from the plethora of exhibitions, biennials and art events that have sprung up across the world since the 1990s, each exhibition reviewed here has triggered profound changes in curatorial practice, and reanimated the potential of contemporary art. The book includes an international roster of curators, and exhibition venues that span the globe, from the USA, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa to France, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey and Spain. It is comprised of nine themed sections, including: "New Lands" (on shows such as Magiciens de la Terre, The Short Century and After the Wall); "Biennial Years" (which documents influential biennials such as the Documentas [10, 11, 13] and the Berlin and São Paulo Biennials); "New Forms" (including experiments in exhibition-making such as Do It and NowHere); "Others Everywhere" (on 'identity politics' shows such as In a Different Light, Phantom Sightings and the 1993 Whitney Biennial); "Tomorrow's Talents Today" (on influential group exhibitions of emerging artists such as Helter Skelter and Sensation); and "History" (on historical surveys such as Inside the Visible, Global Conceptualism and WACK!). A bold proposition for the future of exhibition culture as well as a means of making the recent past accessible, Show Time is essential reading for any student of curating or museum studies, for professional curators and for all those interested in one of today's most dynamic forms of cultural production.

Jens Hoffmann is an exhibition maker and writer based in New York. He is Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions and Public Programs at The Jewish Museum, New York. He has curated and co-curated a number of large-scale exhibitions, including the 2nd San Juan Triennial (2009), the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011) and the 9th Shanghai Biennial (2012).

Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
Distributed Art Publishers (DAP)
Publish Date
March 31, 2014
8.2 X 1.1 X 10.5 inches | 2.95 pounds
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About the Author

Jens Hoffmann is a writer and exhibition maker based in New York, Milan, and San José, Costa Rica. He has curated more than one hundred exhibitions worldwide and written more than three hundred essays, articles, and reviews on art and exhibition making since the late 1990s. Hoffmann is currently Senior Curator at Despacio Center for Contemporary Art in San José .
Hans Ulrich Obrist is artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London, and has written several books including, Ways of Curating (2014).
Maria Lind is a curator, writer and educator based in Stockholm and Berlin. She has served as director of Tensta konsthall, artistic director of the 11th Gwangju Biennale, director of the Center for Curatorial Studies graduate programme at Bard College, and director of Iaspis, the International Artists Studio Program in Stockholm. Her previously published books include Selected Maria Lind Writing and Seven Years: The Rematerialisation of Art From 2011-2017, both published by Sternberg Press.
Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan are the creators of the Internet's wittiest celebrity fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself, which draws millions of readers and made Entertainment Weekly's Must List and the Guardian's list of 50 Most Powerful Blogs. They are the authors of two young adult novels, Spoiled and Messy, and have written for publications ranging from New York magazine's web sites to to Grazia UK. They both reside in Los Angeles.
Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is Director of Castello di Rivoli and GAM Torino.
Mary Jane Jacob is professor and director of the Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Hoffmann (The Jewish Museum in New York) focuses his analysis on 50 art exhibitions that primarily took place post-1990. This date is significant since it marks the end of the Cold War and the beginning of the globalization of the art world. The selected shows demonstrate innovative curatorial practices and document the evolution of the curatorial profession in an increasingly multicultural world. The exhibitions are presented thematically rather than chronologically. Topics include exhibitions in public spaces; the artist as curator; multidisciplinary exhibitions; the international art biennial and its role in shaping contemporary art; sociopolitical issues; and underrepresented art and artists, such as non-Western artists and performance work. Each chapter includes a brief overview and five to eight exhibitions that illustrate the theme, including dates, locations, curators, contributing artists, installation photos and floor plans, and information about the exhibition catalogue and promotional materials. Although international in scope, the exhibitions took place mainly in Europe and North America. The book concludes with an interview with seven international curators and suggested readings for further consideration of the history of curatorial practice. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals/practitioners.--C.B. Cannon "CHOICE "
It's a must-read for the art history nerds out there, and a fascinating introduction to a nascent field for everyone else.--Ian Wallace "Artspace "
With fact sheets for every show, both legendary and lesser known, the book feels like an essential field guide to the past 20 years of curatorial innovation.... a good swath of exhibitions, from South Africa to South Carolina, that illustrate the controversial nature of exhibiting art.--Zoë Lescaze "ArtNews "
One of art history's more modern must-reads. Curator and Director and Head of Exhibitions and Public Programs at The Jewish Museum Jens Hoffmann has selected a list of shows that have "triggered profound changes in curatorial practice, and reanimated the potential of contemporary art" since 1990.... Show Time presents these ground-breaking exhibitions in an engaging and easy-to-follow way.--Kelly Richman-Abdou "My Modern Met "
Of definite benefit to both professional curators and all who aspire to join their number...--Robert Radford "University of East Anglia "
Show Time examines the most game-changing and risk-taking exhibitions of the past 30-ish years.... The book surprised me. I knew I'd find beautiful images, compelling ideas and elegant texts in there and I haven't been disappointed.... definitely puts the whole curatorial practice into a more challenging and 'challengeable' perspective.--Regine Debatty "We Make Money Not Art "
It's appropriate that Hoffmann-who has built his career on remounting historically significant exhibitions--should be the brains behind this definitive list. Though the exhibitions Hoffmann has chosen to highlight have little commonality in their geographies, artworks or even curatorial methodologies, they share a preoccupation with what curation means today, and how curators might take charge of staging experiencies with artworks.--Canadianart