Barbara Steiner

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Barbara Steiner
Barbara Steiner, Graz, 2019
Born1964 (age 59–60)
Dörfles, Austria
Alma materUniversity of Vienna

Barbara Steiner (born 1964) is an Austrian art historian, curator, author, and editor. Steiner is the director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation. She served as the director of the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig from 2001 to 2011, and as the director of Kunsthaus Graz from 2016 to 2021.


Steiner was born in Dörfles, Austria, in 1964. She graduated from the Ortwein School in Graz in 1984,[1] studied art history at the University of Vienna, and undertook post-graduate research in museum and curatorial studies at the State Academy for Lower Austria in Krems.[2]


Steiner began her curatorial career in Germany and Austria in the 1990s. She wrote the first text on the artist Erwin Wurm in 1990.[1] Steiner organized the exhibition Backstage: Topology of Contemporary Art at Kunstverein Hamburg with Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen in 1993,[3] and curated Lost Paradise at Kunstraum Vienna in 1994, exhibiting works by Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Jorge Pardo, Philippe Parreno, and Rirkrit Tiravanija.[4] Lost Paradise was revisited for its importance in an exhibition and publication titled theanyspacewhatever at the Guggenheim in 2008.[5] In the late 1990s, Steiner headed art associations in Ludwigsburg and Wolfsburg, working with artists such as Angela Bulloch, Ólafur Elíasson, Liam Gillick, Karen Kilimnik, and Philippe Parreno.[2]

Steiner served as the director of the Leipzig Museum of Contemporary Art (GfZK) from 2001 to 2011.[6][7] She modernized the museum's role as a cultural institution,[8] and improved the former East German city's standing in the international art scene.[9] Steiner exhibited both emerging and established artists such as Jun Yang and Deimantas Narkevičius,[2] as well as Rosemarie Trockel, Sarah Morris, Ólafur Elíasson, Jorge Pardo, and Neo Rauch.[9]

Steiner's most controversial program during her tenure at GfZK was Carte Blanche (2008–2010). She invited eleven companies, private collectors, and commercial galleries to curate and fund their own exhibitions at the museum, sparking a debate over the competing influences of private interest and public trust in contemporary art.[10]

In 2012, Steiner took over as the artistic director of Europe (to the power of) n, a transnational project in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut, which produced exhibitions in multiple cities in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, China, and Taiwan.[1][2][11] Steiner organized the exhibition Friends and Accomplices at Vienna Künstlerhaus (2014) and the Austrian Association of Women Artists (2015).[2]

In 2016, Steiner was named director of Kunsthaus Graz,[1][2][12] where she invited collaborations with artists, designers, and collectives such as Niels Jonkhans, Oliver Klimpel, Topotek 1, and Superflex. In 2018, Steiner co-curated the exhibition Congo Stars featuring 70 Congolese artists.[13] Steiner exhibited Koki Tanaka in 2017,[14] Jun Yang in 2019,[15] and Haegue Yang in 2017[16] and 2020.[17]

Since September 01, 2021, Steiner is director and CEO of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation, Germany.[18][19]


Steiner has taught at the University of Art and Design Linz (1994–2000), the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart (1999), the Braunschweig University of Art (1999–2000), and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (2000–2002, 2004–2005). From 2015 to 2017, she was professor for the Cultures of the Curatorial graduate program at The Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (HGB).[2]


Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1997: Angela Bulloch, Sound Bank, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1997: Plamen Dejanov & Swetlana Heger, Plenty Objects of Desire, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1997: Liam Gillick, Discussion Island, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1997: Rirkrit Tiravanija, The History of the Struggle for the Window, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1998: Anita Leisz, The Last Events, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1998: Philippe Parreno, blue almost transparent, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg
  • 1999: Karen Kilimnik, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 1999: Superflex, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 1999: Ólafur Elíasson, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 2000: Jun Yang, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 2000: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 2000: Ólafur Elíasson, Kunstverein Wolfsburg
  • 2001: Jun Yang, GfZK
  • 2002: Christine Hill, Volksboutique Organizational Ventures, GfZK
  • 2002: Johanna Kandl, GfZK
  • 2003: Artur Żmijewski, Singing Lesson (with Julia Schäfer), GfZK
  • 2003: Rirkrit Tiravanija, Social Pudding, GfZK
  • 2003: Superflex, Counter-Strike, GfZK
  • 2004: Deimantas Narkevičius, Energy Lithuania, GfZK
  • 2005: Josef Dabernig, Dabernig Josef: Film, Foto, Text, Objekt, Bau, GfZK
  • 2005: Via Lewandowsky, homezone, GfZK
  • 2006: Anna Meyer, Internetionale, GfZK
  • 2006: Atelier Le Balto, The Garden as a Form of Expression, GfZK
  • 2007: Muntean & Rosenblum, GfZK
  • 2011: Zak Kyes, Working With…, GfZK
  • 2017: Koki Tanaka, Provisional Studies (Working Title), Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2017 (2017) – 2018 (2018): Haegue Yang, VIP's Union, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2017 (2017) – 2021 (2021): Superflex, Five-Year Plan, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2019: Jun Yang, The Artist, the Work and the Exhibition, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2020: Herbert Brandl, TOMORROW, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2020 (2020) – 2021 (2021): Jun Yang, The Artist, his Collaborators, their Exhibition, and three Venues (with Huang Chien-Hung, Hsu Fong Ray, and Jun Yang), Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, TKG+, and MOCA Taipei

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1993: Backstage, Kunstverein Hamburg
  • 1994: Lost Paradise, Kunstraum Wien
  • 1998: Enter: Artist, Audience and Institution, Kunstmuseum Luzern
  • 2002 (2002) – 2008 (2008): Shrinking Cities, Kunstwerke Berlin, GfZK
  • 2006: Archit-Action, GfZK
  • 2007 (2007) – 2009 (2009): Carte Blanche, GfZK
  • 2011: Scenarios about Europe 1,2,3, GfZK
  • 2012 (2012) – 2013 (2013): Europe (to the power of) n, London, Minsk, Łódź, Istanbul, Oslo, Novi Sad, Brussels, San Sebastián, Beijing, Taipei
  • 2015: Collection Reversed: Transfer, Transformation and Ruptures, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška
  • 2016: Creative Infidelities, arc en rêve centre d'architecture, Bordeaux
  • 2017: Up into the Unknown: Peter Cook, Colin Fournier and the Kunsthaus, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2018: Faith Love Hope, Kunsthaus Graz
  • 2018 (2018) – 2019 (2019): Congo Stars, Kunsthaus Graz, Kunsthalle Tübingen
  • 2019 (2019) – 2020 (2020): ARTS ⇆ CRAFTS Between Tradition, Discourse and Technologies, Kunsthaus Graz, GfZK, Kestner Gesellschaft


  • Eliasson, Olafur; Steiner, Barbara (1998). "Gegen die Zeit gehen". Kunst Bulletin (in German) (January/February).
  • Hill, Christine (2004). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). The Work of Christine Hill and Volksboutique. Hatje Cantz. ISBN 978-3-7757-1278-1.
  • Kyes, Zak (2012). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). Zak Kyes Working With…. New York: Sternberg. ISBN 978-1-934105-92-4.
  • Pardo, Jorge (2000). Steiner, Barbara; Schafaff, Jörn (eds.). Jorge Pardo. Hatje Cantz. ISBN 978-3-7757-0847-0.
  • Steiner, Barbara; BIG Architects; Ingels, Bjarke; Topotek 1; Superflex (2013). Superkilen. Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing. ISBN 978-9-18754-302-9.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  • Steiner, Barbara; Yang, Jun (2004). Autobiography. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-50093-005-2.
  • Superflex (2003). Spiegel, Andreas; Steiner, Barbrara; Esche, Charles (eds.). Tools. Cologne: Walther König.
  • Yang, Haegue (2018). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). VIP's Union 2001-2018. Berlin: Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite. ISBN 978-3-943514-97-1.
  • Yang, Jun (2020). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). TAHCTE&TV. Taipei: Aparallax. ISBN 978-986-99783-0-9.
  • Yang, Jun (2015). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). The Monograph Project, Volume 1–3. Berlin: Jovis. ISBN 978-3-86859-366-2.
  • Yang, Jun (2018). Steiner, Barbara (ed.). The Monograph Project, Volume 4–6. Berlin: Jovis. ISBN 978-3-86859-367-9.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Schmidt, Colette M. "Kunsthaus Graz: Barbara Steiner wird neue Leiterin". Der Standard (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Pelzl, Christoph; Fras, Anna. "Barbara Steiner is the new Director of the Kunsthaus Graz". Universalmuseum Joanneum. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Backstage". Kunstverein in Hamburg. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  4. ^ Steiner, Barbara. "Q/A Barbara Steiner". Spike Magazine. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Ten Contemporary Artists Invited By The Guggenheim". artdaily. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  6. ^ Lowndes, Sarah (2018). Contemporary Artists Working Outside the City: Creative Retreat. Routledge. ISBN 9781351777872.
  7. ^ Metzger, Rainer (2007). Made in Germany. Hatje Cantz. p. 281. ISBN 9783775719858.
  8. ^ Mader, Rachel (2013). "How to move in/an institution". Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b Hegyi, Dóra (2015). "The Debating Museum". Free School for Art Theory and Practice. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  10. ^ Lind, Maria (2010). "Laissez Fair: Maria Lind on Carte Blanche". Artforum. 48 (10). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Europeⁿ". Studio Miessen. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Barbara Steiner has been named director of the Kunsthaus Graz". Artforum. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  13. ^ Brittney (27 November 2018). "The shining "Congo Stars" of Kunsthaus Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum". Art Radar. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  14. ^ Brittney (12 July 2017). ""Provisional Studies": Japanese artist Koki Tanaka at Kunsthaus Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum". Art Radar. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  15. ^ Haman, Brian (2019). "The Artist, the Work and the Exhibition". ArtAsiaPacific. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  16. ^ Jamieson, Anna (23 January 2018). "Art of the 'VIPs': Korean artist Haegue Yang at Kunsthaus Graz, Universalmuseum Joanneum". Art Radar. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  17. ^ Lescaze, Zoë (26 February 2020). "An Artist Whose Muse Is Loneliness". The New York Times Style Magazine. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  18. ^ "New director of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation appointed". Bauhaus Dessau. 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Barbara Steiner neue Direktorin der Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau". Die Zeit (in German). 22 April 2021. Retrieved 23 April 2021.