The editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian is an art critic, curator, artist, and lecturer on contemporary art with an expertise on the intersection of art and politics.
Breaking news, award-winning reporting, informed opinions, and quality conversations about art have helped Hyperallergic reach an audience of over a million people a month.
Some of his notable essays from the past few years include the forward to The Artist as Culture Producer, which is titled “Imagining the Future Before Us,” his keynote at the American Craft Council’s 2019 national conference, and his criticism of “Tribute in Light.”
He started podcasting regularly in 2016, and in 2018 he launched the Hyperallergic podcast. Notable episodes include: his audio essay on why the female Abstract Expressionists were long overlooked; his a three-part series (1, 2, 3) from the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota, which explores the role of artists as water protectors and supporters; an audio essay about the Whitney Museum’s David Wojnarowicz retrospective; and an in-depth interview with artist Michael Rakowitz about his withdrawal from the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
In the summer of 2019, he created a four-part podcast series, in conjunction with the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, that explores the use of clay and ceramic in contemporary art and the role of museums in this revival. For the first podcast he spoke to artist Kent Monkman about the role of museums, while the second featured Shary Boyle discussing feminism and class-consciousness in clay, and the third episode explored blackface in Canada through the lens of an 18th-century harlequin figure in the museum’s collection. The final episode talked to four experts about an ancient Maya plate and how it’s connected to the summer’s news headlines.
He has curated exhibitions and published in alternative venues and formats for two decades, and in 2017, he launched his Fixed Point Perspective project as the debut exhibition at Minerva Projects in Denver, Colorado. The 10-year project examines the legacy of Ottoman studio photography in contemporary art and visual culture.
In April 2018, he created a collaborative installation with artist Sharon Louden at the Mary Sharpe and Walentas Studio Program in Brooklyn, New York. Titled Origins, it explored the five-year professional and personal friendship between the pair as a starting point for a bigger conversation about beginnings and ends. The video from the installation is also available on his YouTube channel. A new iteration of the collaboration was on view at Signs and Signals on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (September 4–October 11, 2019).
He also tweets a lot.