Terry Smith

Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Pittsburgh

Performa 2015 Australian Pavilion Program


Australian Pavilion Program

Australian Performance Art Then And Now

Performa Hub
47 Walker St.
New York, NY 10013


 Terry Smith, art historian, Art & Language member, and author of the seminal essay “The Provincialism Problem”, presents a selection of Australian performance videos from the 1970s, followed by an in-depth discussion with artists and curators from the Australian ‘Pavilion Without Walls’.

Film Screening:
From the Archive: 1970’s Australian Performance Videos. Featuring artists Peter Kennedy, Mike Parr, Bonita Ely, John Hughes, and Andrew Scollo.

Screening details: 
Peter Kennedy, Video Tapes, 1971 (19:13 mins approx.)
Peter Kennedy and Mike Parr, Idea Demonstrations, 1972 (19:05 mins)
Bonita Ely, UO2 Jabiluka, 1979, (13:23 mins)
John Hughes, Andrew Scollo with Peter Kennedy, November 11, 1979 (18 mins), November 11 Red 1980-81 (19:43 mins) / November 11 Blue 1980-81 (16:18 mins)

Panel discussion: Australian Performance Art Then And Now
Art historian Terry Smith along with curators and artists from the ‘Australian Pavilion Without Walls’ discuss the historical and contemporary contexts of Australian performance art.


Talking Contemporary Curating





New York, NY, October 20, 2015 – Independent Curators International (ICI) announces Talking Contemporary Curating, the second publication in ICI’s “Perspectives in Curating” series, dedicated to offering timely reflections by curators, art historians, critics, and artists on emergent debates in curatorial practice.

Talking Contemporary Curating is a compilation of conversations between art historian Terry Smith and 12 leading international curators, art historians, and theorists deeply immersed in reflecting upon the demands of their respective practices; the contexts of exhibition making; and the platforms through which art may be made public. The contributors include Zdenka Badovinac, Claire Bishop, Zoe Butt, Germano Celant, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Okwui Enwezor, Boris Groys, Jens Hoffmann, Mami Kataoka, Maria Lind, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Mari Carmen Ramírez. Read together, they present a fascinating picture of how curating can contribute to a broader understanding of our contemporary world.

The conversations are framed by Smith’s opening chapter “The Discourse” in which he tracks the advent of a self-reflexive “discursive” era in curating. In the last decade, curators have developed a language specific to their field that has contributed to further shaping curatorial practice itself.

In her Preface, series editor Kate Fowle describes Smith’s work as “discourse in the making, emerging from talking, spurred by the ‘doings’ of twelve practitioners who are immersed in the potential of curating now.”

The exchanges in this publication build upon, question and challenge Smith’s premises in Thinking Contemporary Curating, the first-ever book-length text to explore what is distinctive about curatorial thought, published by ICI in 2012. In the two years following, Smith conducted interviews, discussions, and research involving colleagues in the field, inviting them to respond to the publication. This research took Smith from the U.S., to Europe, to Japan and beyond, and led to the conversations in Talking Contemporary Curating.

6.25 x 8.5 inches, Paperback
Published by Independent Curators International (ICI), 2015 Distribution: Distributed Art Publishers (DAP) – $19.95

Russian Translation of Thinking Contemporary Curating


In April 2015, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, in collaboration with Ad Marginem Press, launches the new Garage Pro book series. The series, which focuses on working in the arts and culture today, features texts by curators, critics, art practitioners, and theorists from around the world. One of the central subjects of Garage Pro is contemporary curating – a fast-developing field and a profession increasingly in demand within the culture industry.

The series will open with Terry Smith’s Thinking Contemporary Curating

The book launch at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art will take place on April 28, and will be accompanied by a discussion with the author.


Thinking Contemporary Curating



By Terry Smith. Introduction by Kate Fowle
Softcover, 272 pages, 54 B&W illustrations
Published by Independent Curators International (ICI), 2012

Thinking Contemporary Curating is available as digital and softcover versions and is distributed by Distributed Art Publishers (DAP), ISBN: 978-0-916365-86-8. Paperback, 6.25 x 8.5 inches, 256 pages, 25 black-and-white illustrations. $19.95.


Touring Conversation Series:

December 6, 2013, “Recurating: When Exhibitions Become Reified,” panel and book launch, Monash University Curatorial Program, MOTO, Melbourne

September 14, Discussion with Paul O’Neill and Liam Gillick, New Museum, New York

August 24, 2013, Thinking Contemporary Curating Book launch and lecture, Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art, Ljubljana

August 3, 2013, Urgent Talks, Discussion with Mami Kataoka, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

July 24, 2013, NIEA master class on Thinking Contemporary Curating, College of Fine Arts, UNSW

February 16, 2013, “Terry Smith in Conversation with Julian Myers,” discussion, College Art Association Annual Meeting, New York


December 12, 2012, “Contemporary Art Museums; Discussion with Claire Bishop,” National Institute for Experimental Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Terry Smith in Conversation with Mary Jane Jacob, Executive Director of Exhibitions, SAIC
Sunday, November 18, 1–3 PM
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Terry Smith
Monday, November 19, closed-door session
The School of Art Institute of Chicago
37 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

Terry Smith in Conversation with Jens Hoffmann, Director, Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art
Tuesday, October 23, 7–9 PM
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art
California College of the Arts
350 Kansas Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Terry Smith in Conversation with Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director, dOCUMENTA(13)
Sunday, October 14, 3 PM
The New Museum
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
RSVP to rsvp@curatorsintl.org

Terry Smith in Conversation with Sofia Hernández Chong Cuy, Curator, Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
Sunday, September 30, 3–4 PM
New York Art Book Fair
22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101

Book Launch & Reading with Terry Smith
Tuesday, September 18, 7–9 PM
New York University
Department of Art History
300 Silver Center, 3rd floor
100 Washington Square East
New York, NY 10003

On Facebook:

A Tribute to Bernard Smith 3.10.1919-2.9.2011

A Tribute to Bernard Smith, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, November 28, 2011

Click on “View Video” at


Book Launch and Panel Discussion: Contemporary Art – World Currents Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London

Panel discussion with Dr. Leon Wainwright, Lecturer in Art History at The Open University, Terry Smith, Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburg, Tessa Jackson, OBE, and Dr. Anthony Downey, Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art.

Book Launch and Panel Discussion: Contemporary Art – World Currents

Sotheby’s Institute of Art – London held a panel discussion and a book launch of Contemporary Art: World Currents by Terry Smith on Wednesday 21 September 2011. Published by Laurence King, the book was launched by Sandy Nairne, Director, National Portrait Gallery.

To view video, go to http://www.openartsarchive.org/oaa/content/contemporary-art-world-currents


One and Three Ideas: Conceptualism before, during and after Conceptual Art

A lecture during conference “Global Conceptualism: The Case of Moscow Conceptualism in an International Context,” Center for Russian Writers, Moscow, sponsored by the Stella Art Foundation, April 14, 2011

To view click on   symposium

It is a nice paradox that the term ‘conceptualism’ came into art world existence after the advent of Conceptual Art – most prominently and programmatically in the exhibition Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s (New York: Queens Museum, 1999) – mainly in order to highlight the fact that innovative, experimental art practices occurred in Russia, Japan, South America, and elsewhere prior to, at the same time as and after the European and US initiatives that had come to seem paradigmatic, and to emphasize that these practices were more socially and politically engaged – and thus more relevant to the present and better art – than the well-known EuroAmerican exemplars. Triggered by remarks made by some of the key artists back in the day (and some made, later, by curators), I wish to revisit the terms ‘Conceptual Art’ and ‘conceptualism’ as pointers to what was at stake in the unraveling of late modern art during the 1960s and in art’s embrace of contemporaneity since.

Posted as part of “Empty Zones: Andrei Monastyrski and Collective Actions,” curated by Boris Groys, Russian Pavilion, 54th Venice Biennale


Published in e-flux journal, #29 (11, 2011) online at


Comment on Ai Weiwei

Among the many symbolic resonances attending Ai Weiwei’s disappearance on 3 April into the custodianship of the Chinese authorities is the sad state of his website, once among the most trafficked in China…

See “The Art of Dissent: Ai Weiwei”, The Monthly, June 2011.


Australia Council Visual Arts Award 2010, awarded at the the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

The following is taken from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Contemporary art theorist Terry Smith and distinguished art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor are being honoured for their innovative and meaningful contribution to Australian visual arts and culture, receiving the Australia Council Visual Arts Award and Medal respectively.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Prime Minister, Senator Kate Lundy presented the awards at a ceremony on 20th May at the National Gallery, Canberra.

Formerly titled the Australia Council Emeritus Award, the Australia Council Visual Arts Award and Medal is an annual recognition of outstanding contributors to Australian visual arts.

Professor Terry Smith will receive $40,000 for his role as a respected critic, theorist and historian of Australian art within Australia and overseas, contributing to contemporary art theory and further advancing the reputation of the Australian artistic sector.

Guest Author, Global Art and the Museum project, ZKM, Karlsruhe, December 2010

Featuring an extract from the Introduction to Contemporary Art: World Currents (London: Laurence King; Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011).

The following is taken from the Global Art and the Museum.

Terry Smith is acknowledged world wide as the leading authority in the theory of contemporary art. We therefore are honoured and grateful to have his consent to prepublish parts of the general introduction of his forthcoming book Contemporary Art: World Currents (London: Laurence King; Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011). The text explains the contents and aims of the book. We have selected those parts, which break down the general phenomenon of contemporary global art into three “world currents,” which are distinguished from each other, and thus develop a novel analysis of the present situation in the art world. Thus, our text selection serves to awaken the curiosity of our website users to read the full arguments in the book coming out in 2011. The originality of the author’s approach, in emphasizing contemporaneity as the credo of a new faith, also emerges from his attention to what has occurred in late modern art since the 1950s. His career began in the context of the debate about Australia’s place in modernity in the 1960s. Making the Modern, the title of his Ph.D. thesis and subsequent book, indicates his point of departure for his present project, which could be called “Making Contemporaneity.”