Ralph Rugoff

Director of Hayward Gallery and curator of Venice Biennale 2019

The California-born naturalised Brit made two significant gestures with his Venice Biennale, slimming the number of artists down to 83 (from 120 in 2017) and asking each of them to present works in both the Arsenale and Giardini. May You Live in Interesting Times was too Western-centric for some – almost a third of the artists were based in the us – but the overall critical consensus was a pretty solid ‘B’. ‘Intermittent bursts of urgency and the occasional surprise’ was the verdict of Adrian Searle in The Guardian, while Jason Farago admired the artist list in The New York Times but felt that Rugo had nonetheless played it ‘safe’. Meanwhile, Zoé Whitley joined Rugo’s Hayward Gallery from the Tate (and fresh off curating the British Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale). Whatever the critics thought of Venice, Rugo can count on one fan: in June, he was awarded an OBE by the queen.