Robert Curcio

Q&A with Curator Robert Curcio

Robert Curcio, photo by Claire McConaughy

How did you get started in the art world?

I went to Tyler School of Art where not only did I study art, but I worked in the school’s galleries learning about installing, curating, and the business of art.

What advice would you tell your younger self?

Many in the art world talk a big game, but only a few can actually make things happen.  So don’t waste time with all the “talkers” and find the people who are actually doing something.

Do you have any advice for new dealers/artists?

If you don’t really love what you are doing and are willing to do the work, don’t bother.

What advice would you recommend to your clients?

For collector clients its about collecting what you love or have an interest in. Don’t just think about flipping and looking at the auctions, because if you’re chasing the auctions, running around to the “it” artist and all the hype, you’re not going to end up with much of a collection.

For artist clients it is the same, follow your own ideas, interests, and inner creativity.  Don’t rely on gallerists, curators, and others for your career; make your own career happen first.

For art fair clients, it will get better, and make the virtual fair as best as possible.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have two articles I should have finished, but have barely begun.  Curating two exhibits; one online and the other in real life, both for next year.  And, redoing my website.

What are your influences and inspirations?

When I was a kid I read all the articles, books, and interviews I could on Leo Castelli and Jasper Johns.  Even back then I knew I was going to be in art, just not sure if it was as a maker of art or in the business of art.  

I remember sharing the elevator with Castelli once when going to his gallery on West Broadway, he turned to me and said “Hello” with a smile. After viewing the exhibit, I was reading the materials at the desk and Castelli asked me what I thought of the exhibit. The great Castelli talking to me, who was just some high school kid?  I was too nervous and surprised to say much of anything both times other than “Hello” back to him and “Nice exhibit”.  But, it taught me that no matter how much of a big shot or self important you think you are, a little bit of common courtesy goes a long way.  

What are some of your career highlights?

After 30 years, I’m happy to say I have a number of them. Curating and managing my first exhibit Possible Photography in 1990. Deciding to stop making art and focus on the business; huge decision. Opening my own gallery in 1995. Being co-founder and co-producer of Scope Art Fair. Co-curating with Donald Kuspit on the Mortality exhibit.  And some of the artists I’ve worked with over the years either giving them their first exhibit or working with them on a significant project and those that have become great friends through the years.

What has sustained your interest and enthusiasm over the years and during difficult times?  

I’m just completely infatuated with everything art. There have been times when I thought of getting a regular non-art job, but that fades quickly. Art has given me hope and inspiration to get through to the better times, like what happened during 9/11 or the great recession. I’m no longer that kid meeting Castelli, some people might say I’m jaded or cynical these days, but there is nothing like climbing a ladder to hang a piece or write a press release for an exhibit I curated or make that sale or walk into a studio and say to myself “this is damn good work and I can work with this artist.”

To learn more about Robert and his work, please visit