Photo: Chika Okeke-Agulu


Okwui Enwezor was a curator, critic and art historian. He was renowned for his research on modernity and global modernisms, theories of contemporary art and photography, diaspora and migration, decolonisation and postcolonial modernisms, and the history and development of museums, exhibitions and curatorial practice.

Enwezor’s curatorial projects alternated between ambitious international exhibitions that sought to define their moment and historically driven, encyclopedic museum shows. His major projects include the Venice Biennale (2015), Paris Triennale (2012), Gwangju Biennale (2008), Seville Biennial (2006), documenta 11 (1998–2002) and the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997). Among Enwezor’s groundbreaking museum exhibitions are

  • Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic,
  • 1945–1965, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2016); Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life, International Center of Photography, New York (2012); Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art, International Center of Photography, New York (2008); Snap Judgments: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography, International Center of Photography, New York (2006); The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945–1994, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2001) and In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940–Present, Guggenheim Museum, New York (1996).

    Enwezor served as the director of Haus der Kunst, Munich (2011–2018) and Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice-President, San Francisco Art Institute (2005–2009). He was also Global Distinguished Professor in the Department of Art History, New York University (2013); Kirk Varnedoe Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University (2012) and visiting professor at Columbia University, New York; the University of Pittsburgh; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Umea, Sweden.

    He regularly edited publications and contributed to periodicals such as Artforum, Frieze, Parkett, Texte zur Kunst and Third Text. Most recently, Enwezor co-edited Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 (Prestel Publishing, 2017). Other publications include Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life (Prestel, 2013); Contemporary African Art Since 1980 (Damiani, 2010); Antinomies of Art and Culture: Modernity, Postmodernity, Contemporaneity (Duke, 2009) and Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Market (InIVA, 1999). In 1994, he founded and co-edited NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

    Enwezor received honorary doctorates from the University of Cape Town and Harvard University; the Hessichen Kulturpreis, German State of Hessen (2015); Order of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany (2014) and Award for Curatorial Excellence, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2009).

    Enwezor was born in 1963 in Calabar, Nigeria and passed away in 2019 in Munich.

    SAF participation:
    Co-curator of exhibition Frank Bowling: Mappa Mundi, 2018
    Sharjah Biennial 15

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