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40 Under 40 Africa

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

7 September 2020

Steven and Lisa Tananbaum Curator, Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Nigerian-born art historian Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, who in 2017 made an appearance on the Global edition of the Apollo 40 under 40, joined the Museum of Modern Art in New York as a curator in March 2019. Working in the department of painting and sculpture, Nzewi plays a key role in the museum’s efforts to present a more expansive, global history of modern and contemporary art – whether through new acquisitions, permanent displays or special exhibitions. He also leads the Africa group under the auspices of C-MAP (the cross-departmental, internal research initiative at MoMA), currently looking at mid-century modernisms on the continent of Africa. Before his move to New York, Nzewi was curator of African art at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2017–19), and at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College (2013–17). While his research is historically rooted, Nzewi – who originally trained as a sculptor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and continues to exhibit his work internationally – often works closely with contemporary artists, joining the curatorial teams of the Dakar Biennale in 2014 and the Shanghai Biennale in 2016–17. He recently co-edited a study of the history of the Dakar Biennale, published by Routledge this year.

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