Asia Society Texas announced the appointment of Owen Duffy, Ph.D., as the organization’s new Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions.
Duffy is an art historian, curator, and writer with a decade of curatorial and fundraising experience in museums. Duffy holds a B.A. in Art History and Studio Art (double major) from the University of Maryland. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern and Contemporary Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied under the noted art historian and curator Robert Hobbs and the late eminent scholar of Himalayan art Dina Bangdel. His thesis and dissertation research on Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor was funded by the Henry Moore Foundation.
After working as a Curatorial Assistant at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Duffy was selected as a fellow for the 2016 Gwangju Biennale International Curator Course. He then moved to New York City and became a development officer for the Museum of Arts and Design, raising funds for the museum’s exhibition program. Since 2019, Duffy served as the Director of St. John’s University’s Yeh Art Gallery and was tasked with revitalizing this academic center located in Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Duffy oversaw physical renovations to the exhibition spaces and the creation of a new website and visual identity for the gallery, started a fundraising operation, and developed a new exhibition program around the theme of diplomacy that expanded on the building’s history as a Center for Asian Studies built during the Cold War.
During his tenure, he organized more than 20 exhibitions, including Lain Singh Bangdel: Moon over Kathmandu, the first solo museum exhibition outside Nepal of the country’s preeminent modern artist Lain Singh Bangdel (1919-2002), which was accompanied by the first art historical monograph on Bangdel’s work (edited by Duffy). Other notable projects include Fevzi Yazici: DARK WHITE, the first art exhibition by Turkish political prisoner and visual journalist Fevzi Yazici, which travelled to the Hillstrom Museum of Art; and group exhibitions that engaged pressing issues of our times such as Diplomacy, which considered soft power and U.S.-China relations, as well as From Confucius to Christ, which examined the role of spirituality and religion in contemporary art. Duffy’s exhibitions at the Yeh earned press in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper, Brooklyn Rail, and Art in America, among others. He spearheaded community partnerships with such organizations as Asia Art Archive in America, China Institute, and Queens Public Library. Under Duffy’s leadership, the Yeh’s attendance increased over 40 percent from pre-pandemic levels.
In addition, Duffy has published scholarship on the work of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, and Nepali performance artist Ashmina Ranjit. Among other publications, his writing about contemporary art has appeared ArtReview, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Artforum, Art & Education, frieze, Momus, Journal of Curatorial Studies, and BOMB.
He is a member of the American Council for Southern Asian Art, the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, and he graduated from Asia Art Archive in America’s Leadership Camp.
Overseeing 4-6 exhibitions per year for the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery and Fayez Sarofim Grand Hall, Duffy will have the opportunity to add to the stellar history of exhibitions organized by Asia Society Texas since its opening in 2012.