• Issue
  • May 01, 2023

Whispering Gallery: All the Best People

In New York City, artists and dealers alike cringed with delight during the new spring reality TV program The Exhibit: Finding the Next Great Artist. Co-produced by MTV and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the series featured the Hirshhorn Museum’s director Melissa Chiu presiding over eight fellow jury members who selected one of seven young artists who battled it out for a cash prize of USD 100,000 and a chance to show at America’s national museum for modern and contemporary art. The Chinese Australian curator, known for her crisp elocution and self-assuredness, looked right at home in the TV spotlights. Exuding Hollywood glamor with her flowing blonde locks and tastefully vibrant frocks, she took center stage, explaining to the camera and jury member Kenny Schachter that art “is not about the pretty, the beautiful, or the gorgeous,” during their group “crit” sessions. Although reviewers panned the program for being staged and banal, it will surely turbo-boost Chiu’s visibility. Word on Fifth Avenue is that Chiu is one of the clear favorites—especially in the eyes of the Guggenheim Museum’s board chair J. Tomilson Hill— to replace Richard Armstrong when the long-time director vacates the corner suite later this year.