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Paul Moorhouse

Paul Moorhouse

Senior Consultant, 20th Century

Job description

As Senior Consultant, 20th century I am currently responsible for researching and developing two major projects for the National Portrait Gallery. The first of these is the representation and reinterpretation of the early 20th century collection in rooms 30 and 31, which will re-open in October 2017 after a programme of refurbishment. A key aspect of the new displays will be the inclusion of documentary film.  The second project is the Cindy Sherman exhibition, a large-scale career survey that I am curating, which opens in 2019.

Before taking up the position of Senior Consultant, 20th century in May 2017, I was formerly Senior Curator of 20th Century Collections and Head of Collections Displays (Victorian to Contemporary). In that role I was responsible for acquisitions, displays and research relating to the collection within the period 1914 – 2000, and overseeing displays of the collection from the Victorian period to the present day. I led a team working on the planning of the Inspiring People project, new presentation and interpretation of the collection to be launched in 2021. Since joining the Gallery in 2005, I curated several exhibitions: Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends, (2017), Giacometti: Pure Presence (2015-16), The Great War in Portraits (2014), The Queen: Art and Image (2011-12), Gerhard Richter Portraits (2009) and Pop Art Portraits (2007). In 2006 I introduced a new series of monographic loan displays, Interventions, which explores innovatory and unconventional approaches to 20th century portraiture through the work of leading international artists. To date, the series has included To date, the series has included Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Jim Dine, Bridget Riley, Anthony Caro, Frank Auerbach, John Gibbons, Patrick Heron, Tony Bevan, Thomas Struth, and Jack Smith. The next displays in the series are Leon Golub and Antony Gormley. I was a member of the Gallery’s Senior Management Team.


My first degree was in English and Philosophy. Subsequently I took a post-graduate teaching certificate (PGCE) in English and Art. I also hold an MA in Art History from London University. My curatorial career in London began as Curator, Government Art Collection. From 1985 to 2005, I was Curator, Modern Collection at the Tate Gallery, latterly Senior Curator and Acting Head of Contemporary Art. In addition to planning the inaugural displays for Tate Britain and Tate Modern, I organized the monographic exhibitions Leon Kossoff (1995), Michael Andrews (1999), Bridget Riley (2002), Anthony Caro (2005) and Anthony Caro: Sculpture Towards Architecture (1991). Exhibitions I have curated at other institutions include: Andy Warhol (Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre, Moscow (2014), Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image (Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens (2009), John Hoyland (Royal Academy of Arts, London (1999) and The Transformation of Appearance (Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (1991). Among several external advisory roles, I am a Trustee of the Royal Academy Chantrey Bequest, a member of the art advisory panel for St Martin in the Fields, and was a member of the AHRC grant awards panel.

Research interests

At Tate, my specialist area was 20th century painting and sculpture. Since joining the National Portrait Gallery my research interests embrace a focus on international 20th century portraiture. I curate exhibitions, lecture and publish widely in both these fields. Since first visiting China in 2012 I have curated a number of exhibitions and published several catalogues on contemporary Chinese art. My current projects include exhibitions on Howard Hodgkin’s portraits (National Portrait Gallery, March 2017) and Gerhard Richter (Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, Moscow, November 2016). Forthcoming publications include catalogues for both these exhibitions; the first monograph on Bridget Riley: The Early Years (to be published in 2016); essays on Alberto Giaometti for the Tate exhibition in 2017; publications on Tony Bevan and Richard Patterson; and two essays on the Royal Academy and Modernism for the 2-volume History of the Royal Academy (to be published in 2017). I am currently researching Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol for exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery in 2017 and 2021.

Recent Publications

In addition to numerous exhibition catalogues and other publications (see Selected Publications), recent books include: Giacometti: Pure Presence (2015),  The Great War in Portraits (2014), Cindy Sherman (2014), A Guide to Twentieth Century Portraits(2013), Anthony Caro: Presence (2010); Bridget Riley From Life (2010); Pop Art Portraits (2007).

Selected Publications