THE FINE ARTS MUSEUMS of San Francisco (the de Young and Legion of Honor) expanded their curatorial team at the end of the year, hiring an inaugural curator of African art. Natasha Becker officially started at the Museums in the newly created role on Dec. 1.

Working in the department of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Becker oversees the collection of African art. Her appointment was announced Dec. 3.

“The collaborative and innovative underpinnings of Natasha’s curatorial practice, her knowledge and study of art history and African history, and her experience presenting contemporary African art will bring exciting opportunities to the stewardship, interpretation, and development of our collection,” Christina Hellmich, curator in charge of the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, said in a statement.

“Spanning multiple disciplines, Natasha’s curatorial expertise expands the possibilities for the presentation of African art at the Museums by bringing contemporary conversations to our historical collection.”

“Spanning multiple disciplines, Natasha’s curatorial expertise expands the possibilities for the presentation of African art at the Museums by bringing contemporary conversations to our historical collection.”
— Curator Christina Hellmich

Over the past decade, Becker has worked as an independent curator organizing exhibitions and programming in Cape Town, South Africa, and New York. Most recently, she worked with a few New York City institutions. She was a curatorial adviser at the FACE Foundation and served as a guest curator at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice art gallery.

Becker is also co-founder of Assembly Room, a New York art space and platform for independent women curators, and the Underline Show in Johannesburg, which also provides opportunities for independent curators.

Born and raised in South Africa, Becker earned a master’s degree in African history from the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, and completed Ph.D. coursework in art history at Binghamton University in New York.

“This is a time for accountability, for asking real questions, and for transformation in U.S. museums. I believe in the contemporary value of historical collections and the important role of today’s artists in connecting people and leading these conversations,” Becker said in a statement.

“I am deeply honored to join with African and African diaspora artists and communities in bringing forward our complex experiences and adding our diverse voices to the de Young’s collections, exhibitions, programs, and scholarship.”

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco include the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. In 2020, the de Young presented “Soul of the Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, 1963-1983.” The Legion of Honor is organizing “Wangechi Mutu: I Am Speaking, Are You Listening?” a major survey of the Kenyan-born, New York-based artist, forthcoming in May. CT

 

IMAGE: Natasha Becker. | Photo courtesy Elisabeth Smolarz (2020)

 

BOOKSHELF
“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” was published to accompany the landmark traveling exhibition. Fully illustrated, “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey” was released on the occasion of the artist’s first major U.S. solo museum exhibition. “Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization?” documents an early show at Art Gallery Ontario in Toronto, Canada, her first major solo exhibition in North America.

 

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