Eva Respini joined the Institute of Contemporary Art as chief curator earlier this year and gives her Instagram (@curator_on_the_run) followers an intimate behind-the-scenes look at what it's like in the thick of the art world. The 38-year-old Cambridge resident shares a mix of pieces she's checking out, places she travels, and the fascinating day-to-day grind of museum life.
Q. What advice do you have for art curator hopefuls?
A. There's not one way of doing it, but what's really needed is a rigorous background in art history and critical writing and thinking. I went to school and grad school to study art history, and most people who are curators came up that way, but what's equally important is practical experience. You should work at museums and galleries and work with different artists. It's about learning from the inside. I started as a curatorial assistant early in my career, which is when you work with other curators and pull off their shows, and that education was just as valuable as theoretical artists' discourse.
Q. Do you think social media has changed the art world?
A. I think it has. The art industry is so visual and particularly the visual platform of something like Instagram has had an effect. The idea that you can visit a museum, even if you're not in the brick-and-mortar; online is something museums are thinking about in a much more serious way. Of course, you can't replace the physical portion of a visit. For me, many of the best museums are ones that are also ideal social spaces. You go to see art, but you can also go get a coffee with a friend and go to the bookstore.
From a personal point of view, social media platforms help me keep up with artists and other curators. Even though it's been a year and a half since I've been in Japan, I can keep up with artists, museums, and organizations that I'm interested in. It keeps me connected to what's going on in the industry.
Q. Who do you like to follow?
A. I don’t follow just art people, but I love following the Hammer Museum (@hammer_museum) in Los Angeles and my previous institution, the MoMA (@themuseumofmodernart). Idea Books (@ideabooksltd), who make a lot of great art books, has a great account. I also like to follow a lot of fashion people. Fashion people have a great handle on what’s going on in the visual world. And I like to follow Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette at @choupettesdiary. I like the ability to see into different worlds and different industries.
Q. What led you to join the network?
A. I love images and previous to my life here in Boston, I was the department of photography curator at the MoMA. I signed up pretty early on, and for me, it was just a way to share and post and have fun in a low-key way.
Q. How did you decide what to share from your personal life versus what's happening in art?
A. There was a moment when I decided to take down a picture of my daughter, who is 4, when I realized that it wasn’t just my friends and family following me, and it had become more of a public account. Like, it’s fascinating to me, but when my daughter is older, she won’t have made the choices to put up those images of herself and she can’t weight in on those choices and hopefully, when she’s 21, she won’t be embarrassed of all the baby photos I posted of her back then.