« Art Critics' Reading List


Tobias Ostrander is chief curator and deputy director for curatorial affairs at the Pérez Art Museum Miami’s new Herzog and de Meuron-designed building. From 2009 to 2011, he was the director of El Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City after previously serving as the curator of contemporary art at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City from 2001-2009. Prior to his work in Mexico City, Ostrander was the associate curator for inSITE2000/01 in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, as well as assistant curator on the XXIV Bienal de São Paulo.

Jeff Wall: Selected Essays and Interviews. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007.

This outstanding volume contains 14 essays and 23 interviews by the Canadian photographer Jeff Wall. It was published in conjunction with the retrospective of this work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2007. Wall is an exceptional writer and thinker about art history in general and a particularly acute scholar of photography. This book contains fascinating essays by the artist on other artists, such as On Kawara and Edouard Manet, as well as insightful interviews about his own practice. His essay  ”Marks of Indifference”: Aspects of Photography in, or as, Conceptual Art,” from 1995, is mind-blowing for anyone interested in the conceptual legacy of photography beginning in the 1960s and  ‘70s. I am currently working on a small exhibition of Jeff Wall’s photographs for the Pérez Art Museum Miami, opening October 22, which gave me a good excuse to recently reread these amazing texts.

Hall Foster. The Return of the Real: The Avante-Garde at the End of the Century. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996.

This book was required reading in the early part of my curatorial career and has stayed with me as a continual resource. Foster has a particularly clear and thoughtful way of structuring his arguments on image-based works of the late 1980s and early ‘90s. His essay “The Crux of Minimalism” is incredibly informative and influential on how Minimalism’s reference to the context of the white cube gallery space and to the viewer’s own body led artists to gender and culturally identify the viewer through their works a decade later, during the period in which “identity politics” was a dominant force within art practices. “The Artist as Ethnographer” is another essay that continually returns as a crucial text regarding how politicized artists were engaging critical theory and investigative techniques borrowed from other academic disciples during this period.

Beyond the Fantastic. Contemporary Art Criticism from Latin America. Edited by Gerardo Mosquera. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996.

This collection represents the beginning of a distinctly critical reading on how Latin American art had previously been discussed within the United States. The book was published around the 500-year anniversary of Columbus’ first trip to the Americas, and the 22 essays included criticize the limited and eroticizing exhibitions of Latin American art that had appeared in several U.S. museums in the late 1980s. These essays represent a seminal shift in discourse and mark a maturing of cultural criticism around Latin American art in the U.S. It was the most engaging writing in English on these topics at that time. The voice of curator Mari Carmen Ramírez, in her essay which gives the book its title, “Beyond ‘the Fantastic’: Framing Identity in U.S. Exhibitions of Latin American Art,” is particularly noteworthy and strong here.