Simon Baker Lecture
This lecture by Charlotte Cotton took place on Thursday, October 30, 2014 in the Timken Lecture Hall of the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA. The lecture was sponsored by Pier 24 Photography as part of the Spring 2014 Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program.
Simon Baker is the Tate Modern’s first Curator of Photography and International Art. In his position, he is responsible for the acquisition of new works and advancing the photography exhibition program at both the Tate and Tate Modern. Baker studied art history at the University College London and received his PhD in 2002. He was a Henry Moore Fellow at UCL and a 2003-2004 Gould Fellow recipient at Princeton University in history of photography. Prior to joining the Tate, he was Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham, where he taught history of photography, surrealism and contemporary art. He is also the chair of the Oxford Art Journal’s editorial group.
Baker has been praised for significantly expanding the Tate’s relationship to photography and photographers. In evaluating potential photographic acquisitions for the museum, he considers how the works align with the painting, sculpture and other media already in the collection. He often finds new work and undiscovered artists through their self-published books. A few of these self-published books originally piqued his interest in Japanese photography, primarily the work of Daido Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Araki.
Baker’s essays on surrealism, photography, and contemporary art have been widely published, and he has curated the following exhibitions: Undercover Surrealism: Georges Bataille and Documents (Hayward, London, 2006); Close-up: Proximity and Defamiliarisation in Art, Film and Photography (Fruitmarket, Edinburgh, 2008); Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera (with Sandra Phillips, Tate Modern, 2010); Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I- XVIII (Tate Modern, 2011); and William Klein + Daido Moriyama (Tate Modern, 2012).