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Simon Watson
Simon Watson is an independent curator, critic and art advisor based in New York City and São Paulo. A New York art world veteran with extensive experience in Brazil’s exploding contemporary art scene, Watson has curated hundreds of exhibitions worldwide and advised on art collections for galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions, as well as for private collectors. Founder of the Simon Says and Simon Says Brazil guides to contemporary art and culture, Watson is a regular contributor to Whitewall, the magazine of contemporary art and lifestyle, and Dasartes, the leading Portuguese language art magazine in Brazil. Watson's Tumblr is here.

Watson's area of expertise is spotting and promoting emerging artists with outstanding potential, many of whom have since gained international recognition. Since 1985, every Whitney Biennial has included at least two artists whose careers Watson was instrumental in launching, including Lucas Arruda, Lutz Bacher, Sue de Beer, Carroll Dunham, Nicole Eisenman, Tony Feher, Keltie Ferris, Louise Fishman, Deborah Kass, Sherrie Levine, Denise Milan, Marilyn Minter, Paul P., Adam Pendleton, Jack Pierson, Richard Prince, Martha Rosler, Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, Tunga, and Kehinde Wiley. These artists are now also represented by some of the most established galleries in the United States.

A former faculty member at School of Visual Arts, Watson has delivered hundreds of talks on contemporary art for museum trustees and business, as well as for art school audiences. He has been a guest lecturer at dozens of universities (CalArts, Columbia, Hunter, UCLA, and Yale) and a wide variety of museums (Bronx Museum, Dia Center, MoMA, the New Museum, San Francisco MoMA, Studio Museum, and the Whitney).

Entries by Simon Watson

Jeff Koons at the Whitney

(0) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 6:03 PM

Among the highlights of the Whitney Museum's Jeff Koons retrospective, Play-Doh -- a "ten-foot-tall, metastasized childhood nightmare in painted aluminum that has taken Koons two decades to realize, in all its luridly DayGlo, dog-poop creepiness..."

THINK YOU'VE SEEN it all before?...

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78 Hours on the Los Angeles Art Scene

(1) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 3:51 PM

The opening of the UCLA Hammer Museum's Made in LA 2014 exhibition

ANNUALLY FOR THE past four years, I've made a Los Angeles art pilgrimage in the company of prominent New York collectors Zoë and Joel Dictrow. With me piloting the...

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Young Chinese Artists

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 10:57 PM

Chinese artist Sun Xun with his painting installation at Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg (Florida), part of the historic museum show, My Generation: Young Chinese Artists

GO FIGURE. A new artistic generation has appeared in China and they have something new...
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School's Out for the Summer!

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 12:57 PM

The opening of The School, a new arts space in Kinderhook, New York, by Jack Shainman Gallery

This past Saturday, the teeny-tiny town of Kinderhook, New York, located three hours north of New York City by car, was invaded by hundreds...

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The 'Financial Times' Said What...?!

(0) Comments | Posted May 16, 2014 | 3:49 PM


Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988)

LAST WEEK THE Museum of Modern Art opened the much anticipated retrospective Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1988 and it is a tour-de-force.

Organized by two gifted curators Luis Pérez-Oramas -- who...

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(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 11:56 AM


Soprano Ok-ja Lim, in Rainer Ganahl's "El Mundo"

In the last hour of yesterday's Sunday stroll through the Lower East Side gallery scene, I stumbled upon a wonderful sub-theme of storefronts and the memories they contain.

Corin Hewitt's "The Third Station" architectural installation...

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Channeling Modernist Ghosts and the Death Star

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 1:12 PM


Robert Longo's dueling Chelsea solo shows at Metro Pictures and Petzel Gallery are spectacularly stunning. Above, at Petzel, "Untitled (Capitol)," 2012-'13; charcoal on paper

Robert Longo's Gang of Cosmos at Metro Pictures includes 12, ghostly black-and-white charcoal drawings based...

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Ouro Preto: A Colonial City's Lessons

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 3:43 PM

Ouro Preto's Santa Efigenia Church

ON THE SECOND day of my Brazilian art collector tour we visited Ouro Preto, a Brazilian colonial town nestled in a mountainous region in the center of the state of Minas Gerais, 423 miles northeast of...

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Inhotim: Eighth Great Wonder of the Art World

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 10:51 AM


Opened to the public in 2006 by former mining magnate Bernardo Paz, the Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim is 5000-acre botanical garden designed by the late landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx, containing two dozen art "pavilions."

I'm currently...

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On the Sunny Lower East Side

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 4:29 PM

Even the "unmarked," alleyway entrance to Freemans felt sunny...

SIX OF US gathered at Freemans, on New York's Lower East Side, for a cozy Sunday brunch of rustic-style skillet eggs, seasonal aperitifs and single malt Scotch. Then, since it was warmer...

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(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 11:56 AM


Keltie Ferris: Body Prints at Chapter NY

Keltie Ferris: Body Prints
Chapter NY
127 Henry Street, New York, NY 10002
Through March 30
Hours: Sat-Sun, 11-6

Keltie Ferris has just opened a stunning exhibition of "body...

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Top 10 U.S. Museum Shows 2014

(0) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 12:32 PM

FRIENDS FROM FOUR continents planning visits to the U.S. have asked me what upcoming museum shows are likely to be must-sees. Here's my current list of these shows, which happen to feature an unusually strong selection of work by women:

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948-1988

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Brazil: A Looming Anniversary

(0) Comments | Posted December 26, 2013 | 5:35 PM

Since arriving in São Paulo two-weeks ago, I have been struck by the number of times Brazilians have mentioned the fact that 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the dictatorship. Beginning with a coup d'état in March 31, 1964, the authoritarian military dictatorship ruled Brazil for twenty-one...

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First Impressions

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2013 | 8:08 AM

On Friday morning, I exchanged New York's winter for Brazil's summer. As per my usual back-and-forthing between the U.S. and Brazil, I've just arrived in São Paulo for a six-week stay.

There's so much happening right now on São Paulo's art scene! Every gallery and museum is making a final...

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Gentileza Gera Gentileza: Summer Moments

(0) Comments | Posted October 3, 2013 | 12:46 PM


Jarbas Lopes' impromptu banana dance at the A Gentil Carioca gallery (photo by Fausto Chermont)

I've just returned to New York from a ten-week stay in Brazil, where I found the cultural scene energized by a whirlwind of gallery openings, art...

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Vilma Eid: Champion of Outsider Artists

(0) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 1:12 PM

Untitled work by Véio (photo by João Liberato)

For decades, so-called outsider art was truly outside an art world whose boundaries were smugly defined by the establishment judgments of curators and gallerists, as well as the public at large. The term...

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Brazil's Chief Negotiator for Climate Change

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 2:50 PM


Robert Polidori: Oscar Niemeyer's Congresso Nacional, Brasilia, 1958

I love Brazilian Modernist architecture and design. This country boasts a vast treasury of buildings and other structures that reflect inventive use of materials ranging from rare woods and stone to humble concrete...

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'Retreat' -- The Refashioned Reality of Iran do Espírito Santo

(1) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 2:20 PM


Installation view: Recou (Retreat), by Iran do Espírito Santo, at São Paulo's Morumbi Chapel: "A space of spiritual reflection..."

IRAN DO ESPÍRITO SANTO makes thoughtfully minimalist sculptures and installations by transforming mundane household objects, architectural design elements, and physical spaces...

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Ellsworth Kelly at 90

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 1:23 PM


Installation view: Curves on White (Four Panels) from 2011, in Ellsworth Kelly at Ninety, at Matthew Marks's 24th Street gallery

Ellsworth Kelly, the master of lyrical minimalism, enjoyed his 90th birthday this past month with a trio of exhibitions at...

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The Simple Charisma of Paulo Nazareth

(1) Comments | Posted July 18, 2013 | 12:58 PM


Paulo Nazareth: Objects to hide the Sun from your eyes (2010), photograph; courtesy Mendes Wood Gallery, São Paulo

IT'S ALWAYS EASY to say that a country boasts a fresh generation of artists, or that some bright, young artist is doing "revelatory" work....

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