The editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic, Hrag Vartanian is an editor, art critic, curator, and lecturer on contemporary art with an expertise in the intersection of art and politics.
Hrag co-founded the publication Hyperallergic in 2009 in response to changes in the art world, the publishing industry, and the distribution of information. Breaking news, award-winning reporting, informed opinions, and quality conversations about art have helped Hyperallergic reach over a million readers and listeners a month.
In 2016, Hrag launched the Hyperallergic Podcast, which tells stories from around the world (iTunes). Some notable episodes have delved into the history of Surrealism in Egypt, the story of the largely unknown female Abstract Expressionists, the history of Blackface in Canada, and front-line coverage of the artists taking part in the #StopDAPL action at the Standing Rock reservation in the state of North Dakota. He has also done in-depth interviews with leaders in the contemporary art field, including innovative feminist art historian Linda Nochlin, artist Audrey Flack, key players in the Decolonize This Place activist movement, poet and critic John Yau, artist Michael Rakowitz, and pioneering meme theorist An Xiao Mina.
He champions a type of straight-forward online art criticism that believes in the power of journalism, while retaining a sensitivity to the cultural and economic realities that inform the world of art, culture, and politics. In May 2018, art critic Mary-Louise Schumacher wrote about the rise of Hyperallergic for Neiman Reports at Harvard University.
His curatorial interests are focused on a constellation of theories and practices clustered around ideas of decolonization. His work is informed by his own experience of being part of a post-genocide diaspora.
In 2010, he moved Hyperallergic into a gallery at Outpost in Ridgewood, Queens, to stage #theSocialGraph, the world’s first multi-disciplinary exhibition of social media-related art. In 2015, he orchestrated Jade Townsend’s Crazy Amazing Garage Sale exhibition at Auxiliary Projects, Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The three-day liquidation sale of unsold art was an attempt to release the capital trapped in one artist’s storage unit — it liberated over $3,000. In 2017, he kicked off a 10-year project exploring the contemporary legacy of Ottoman studio photography with an exhibition at Minerva Projects in Denver, Colorado. The opening was covered by the Denver Post newspaper.
His original blog, simply named “Hrag Vartanian,” was very active between 2006 and 2010 and focused on politics, writing, and mostly art. The art blog had thousands of daily readers and included guest contributors. It was part of the Culture Pundits network. He also wrote the Re:Public column about street art and politics for ArtCat Zine (2007–2009).
You can also subscribe to Hyperallergic’s newsletter and he also has a person newsletter, and he promises to send more regular missives at some point but right now it’s pretty infrequent. You can always find him on Twitter.
He’s prepared a “30 Things of Mine You Might Want to Read” list of some favorite essays, interviews, articles, reviews, and opinion pieces for those who may have only recently discovered his writing.