Iwona Blazwick joined Whitechapel Gallery in 2001 with a vision to grow its world-class exhibition, education, commissioning and publishing programmes. Under her 20-year leadership, the Gallery’s reputation as ‘the artist’s gallery for everyone’ has grown exponentially; in 2009 she doubled the Gallery’s physical footprint, transforming the adjacent former Whitechapel Library into new galleries and creative studio spaces. She notably strengthened Whitechapel Gallery’s commitment to showing pioneering women artists; the programme has featured major solo exhibitions of Nan Goldin (2002), Cristina Iglesias (2003), Isa Genzken (2009), Elizabeth Peyton (2009), Sophie Calle (2010), Alice Neel (2010), Gillian Wearing (2012), Zarina Bhimji (2012), Sarah Lucas (2013), Hannah Höch (2014), Emily Jacir (2015), Mary Heilmann (2016), Anna Maria Maiolino (2019) and Eileen Agar (2021). Under her tenure the Gallery continued its famous history of ‘firsts’, with immersive exhibitions by Mark Wallinger (2002), Franz West (2003), Paul McCarthy (2005), Albert Oehlen (2006), William Kentridge (2016), Mark Dion (2018), Elmgreen & Dragset (2019) and Kai Althoff (2020).
Alongside significant surveys and solo exhibitions, Blazwick commissioned or curated ambitious historical surveys, including A Short History of Performance (2002-2005), Back to Black: Art, Cinema, and the Racial Imaginary (2005), Faces in the Crowd (2005), Adventures of the Black Square (2015), Electronic Superhighway (2016), Eduardo Paolozzi (2017) and A Century of the Artist’s Studio (2022).
Blazwick will be stepping down in April 2022. She will continue to work as an independent curator both with the Gallery into 2023, and on a wide range of international projects.