Schaffner is an American curator, art critic, writer, and educator, specializing in art history. She lives in Philadelphia and Lubbock, Texas. Since 2000, she has directed the exhibition program as chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the leading museums dedicated to exhibiting the innovative art of our time. Her work often coalesces around themes of archiving and collecting, photography, feminism, and alternate modernisms—especially Surrealism. She is author of more than 20 books and nearly 200 articles, reviews, and features, ranging from Salvador Dalí’s Dream of Venus to The Essential Andy Warhol, from an essay on exhibition wall text to an art history of chocolate. She has organized monographic exhibitions of the work of Karen Kilimnik, Barry Le Va, Jess, Jason Rhoades, and Anne Tyng, among others, and thematic group shows such as The Photogenic, The Puppet Show, Queer Voice, and Dirt on Delight: Impulses that Form Clay.
Born in Pittsburgh, Schaffner grew up in Los Gatos, California. She attended Mount Holyoke College, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program, where she was a Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellow. She then received a master’s degree in art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. After organizing shows for the Drawing Center, Swiss Institute, Haus der Kunst (Munich), Hayward Gallery (London), Independent Curators International, White Columns, and elsewhere, Schaffner was invited by then-director Claudia Gould to reshape and oversee ICA’s curatorial department.
Schaffner envisions the 2018 edition of the Carnegie International as an exhibition informed by the perspectives of an international group of “traveling and thinking partners.” Invited for their expertise of different areas of the art world—geographic as well as disciplinary—each curator colleague will accompany Schaffner on a journey to a region unfamiliar to them both. Expanding on the role of the advisor, through the process of research, the partners will also spend time in Pittsburgh, integrating experiences of the particularities and perspectives of this city into the exhibition’s themes and ideas.
According to Schaffner:
“Crafting the next Carnegie International is a chance to shape one of the momentous cultural forces that helped form me. I grew up going to the Carnegie museums and library, and I have been making pilgrimages back to Pittsburgh to see the International since 1995. For me, embarking on this project is a venture into the unknown—a massive research enterprise that will be informed over the next three years by looking, by thinking and talking with artists, colleagues, and collectors, and by traveling to look some more. What better way to see where contemporary art will lead us in 2018?”
Image: Ingrid Schaffner. Courtesy Carnegie International.