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Iwona Blazwick. Photo: Christa Holka.
Iwona Blazwick. Photo: Christa Holka.

Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick to Step Down

Iwona Blazwick, who has led London’s Whitechapel Gallery for two decades, will leave her post there in April. She will remain affiliated with the gallery into 2023 as an independent curator. Known for her commitment to cutting-edge art and for commissioning new works from highly touted artists, Blazwick was named to the Order of the British Empire in 2008 for her services to art. She doubled Whitechapel’s footprint the following year and over the next decade strengthened the gallery’s already distinguished programming with solo exhibitions of artists such as Isa Genzken, Hannah Höch, and Sarah Lucas, and group shows including “Back to Black: Art, Cinema, and the Racial Imaginary” (2005) and “Electronic Superhighway (2016–1966)” (2016), the latter spawning a number of post-internet-themed exhibitions. In 2005, she inaugurated the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, reflecting her career-spanning commitment to elevating art by women. Several of the award’s recipients went on to win the Turner Prize, considered one of the UK’s most prestigious distinctions.

Blazwick arrived at Whitechapel with a first-class pedigree, having served as director of New York’s feminist AIR Gallery and then at the Institute of Contemporary Art London and Tate Modern, serving as head of exhibitions and displays at the latter organization. Prior to entering arts administration, she worked at Phaidon, where she initiated the series Documents of Contemporary Art, copublished with MIT Press and anthologizing cardinal essays on artistic genres and themes.

“Over the last two decades I have had the opportunity to exhibit, commission, and publish some of the world’s greatest artists; to lead the expansion of the Gallery; to forge relationships with international institutions and a huge range of cultural practitioners, important collectors, and philanthropists; and to work with inspiring colleagues,” noted Blazwick. “As the Gallery emerges from the pandemic in a strong financial position and with programs admired and respected around the world, now seems a good time to hand over the reins!”