He has curated a number of large international exhibitions including the Biennale of Sydney (1998), Facts of Life: Contemporary Japanese Art (Hayward Gallery, London 2001), Quotidiana (Castello di Rivoli, Turin 1999, Tate Triennial (2003), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Sharjah Biennial (2007), Negotiations (Today Art Museum, Beijing 2010) and the Guangzhou Triennial (2012). He was on the curatorial team for Europarte (Venice Biennale, 1997), Milano Europa 2000, (Palazzo di Triennale, Milan 2000), and Riwaq (Palestinian Biennial 2007). He curated the Iraqi Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2013 and Floating World, Bahrain in 2017. In 2019 Watkins was the curator of Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky, the 9th Manif d’art Quebec City Biennial.
Jonathan Watkins has written extensively on contemporary art. Essays have focused on the work of Giuseppe Penone, Martin Creed, Semyon Faibisovich, Yang Zhenzhong, Noguchi Rika, Oliver Beer, Beat Streuli and Cornelia Parker. He was the author of the Phaidon monograph on Japanese artist On Kawara.
Jonathan Watkins has served on numerous committees and boards, most recently for the Imperial War Museum (2011-2016), Arts Council Collection Acquisitions Committee (2011-2013) and 14-18 Now: First World War Centenary Cultural Programme (2013-2017). He won the 1992 Prudential Award for the Visual Arts, UK and in 2013 was nominated as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. In 2019 he won the inaugural Ampersand Foundation Award to realise the exhibition of his dreams (Carlo Crivelli, 2022).
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