John Elderfield is an independent curator and art historian, a consultant to the Gagosian Gallery, senior adviser to Artsy, and Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, where he directed more than twenty exhibitions, with accompanying book-length catalogues, including Fauvism and its Affinities (1976), Matisse in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (1978), The Modern Drawing (1983), The Drawings of Henri Matisse (1984), Kurt Schwitters (1985), Morris Louis (1986), The Drawings of Richard Diebenkorn (1989), Henri Matisse: A Retrospective (1992), Bonnard (1998), Modern Starts (2000), Manet and the Execution of Maximilian (2006), Armando Reverón (2007), Martin Puryear (2007), Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-17 (2010), and De Kooning: A Retrospective (2011). His most recent exhibition is Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959 (Gagosian Gallery, 2013).
He earned B.A. and M.Phil. degrees from the University of Leeds and a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London University, and has been awarded a Harkness Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, and the first Mitchell Prize for a book on twentieth-century art. As Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, he was responsible for acquisitions to that collection, and its reinstallation in 2004 in its newly rebuilt premises. In addition to his exhibition catalogues, he was Editor-in-Chief of the series, Studies in Modern Art (1991-2004), has published books on Hugo Ball (1974/1996), Helen Frankenthaler (1988), and Pierre-Paul Prud’hon (1997), among others; some seventy-five articles on modern art and related subjects; and he lectures widely.
Among his recent affiliations and awards, he has been a Visiting Fellow at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2001); an Associate Fellow at the American Academy in Rome (2006); named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People of the Year (2005); was made Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government (2006); and awarded an honorary D. Litt. from the University of Leeds (2008). He serves on the board of the Dedalus Foundation, the Members’ Board of the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C, the American Advisory Committee of the Courtauld Institute of Art, the American Committee of the Premium Imperiale Prize, the Advisory Committee of the Kate Weare Dance company, and the Art Advisory Council of the International Foundation for Art Research; is an Honorary Member of Proyecto Armando Reverón, Caracas, and a member of the Honorary Committee of the Kurt Schwitters Society; and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics, and of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers.