Fine Arts Museums of SF Hire Natasha Becker as First-Ever Curator of African Art

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Natasha Becker; Installation view of de Young Gallery 40, part of the African art collection. (L: Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Smolarz; R: Courtesy of FAMSF)

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), more commonly known as the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor, announced today the appointment of independent curator Natasha Becker as the institution’s inaugural curator of African art.

Becker, who was born and raised in South Africa, has lived and worked between Cape Town and New York for the past decade. She comes to the FAMSF most recently from Harlem’s Faction Art Projects, where she was a curator-in-residence. According to today’s press release, Becker will report to Christina Hellmich, the curator in charge of the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. She will envision “new and expansive ways to interpret and present artworks in focused exhibitions and in dialogue with other works of art in the Museums’ collection.”

Though Becker holds a master’s in African history and a PhD in art history, much of her recent work has concerned contemporary African and African diaspora art. She is the co-founder of two collaborative curatorial platforms: New York City’s Assembly Room and Underline Show in Johannesburg. She has also served as a curatorial adviser at the Face Foundation and co-curator at the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice. The press release notes Becker’s interest in promoting art from “the global south, as well as women artists, in addition to centering social justice within the contemporary art dialogue.”

“This is a time for accountability, for asking real questions, and for transformation in U.S. museums,” Becker said in a statement. “I believe in the contemporary value of historical collections and the important role of today’s artists in connecting people and leading these conversations.”