Arnold Joseph Kemp’s article, “Who is this black, queer curator? If you don’t remember it and do him, his last name is McShine,” will consider the late Trinidad-born curator, Kynaston McShine (1935-2018), a leading figure at the Museum of Modern Art, who had a major influence on contemporary art for over 40 years. Kemp’s essay will make the case that McShine’s pursuit of non-figural artistic modes was a way of subverting the relentless objectifying and categorizing gaze of American society in the era of civil rights uprisings and their aftermath. Standing between artists and the enormously complex organism of the museum, McShine had an intimate understanding of the powers that run the art world. Kemp will situate the multiple roles McShine played and the various masks he had to wear into a longer narrative of complex, often vexed, relationships between museums, artists, and curators.

Arnold Joseph Kemp, Dean of Graduate Studies (2016-2020) at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, is a professor of Painting and Drawing. His experimental practice extends beyond the studio and the formal gallery system, appearing as performance and in the form of limited-edition art objects, collaborations, and poems. Kemp’s artworks are housed in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, The Portland Art Museum. He is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow and has received awards from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Art Matters Inc., Printed Matter Inc., Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, and the San Francisco Art Institute. He has shown recently at Iceberg Projects in Chicago, Biquini Wax, in Mexico City, and Fourteen30 Contemporary, in Portland, Oregon. In January 2021, JOAN, Los Angeles, CA will present a solo exhibition of new work by Kemp. He is also the recipient of awards for writers from the Academy of American Poets, Tufts University, and PEN America.