Dorothy Moss

Photo of Dorothy Moss

Curator of painting and sculpture, National Portrait Gallery

Dorothy Moss is curator of painting and sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery and coordinating curator of the Smithsonian Women’s History Initiative. Moss also directs the National Portrait Gallery’s triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. As curator of the Portrait Gallery’s first performance art series, “IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture” she has commissioned new performances by multiple artists, including María Magdalena Campos Pons, J.J. McCracken, James Luna, Martha McDonald, Wanda Raimundi Ortiz, Sheldon Scott, and WILMER WILSON IV. She serves as one of the curators of the ongoing “Portraiture Now” series and is a co-curator of Portraiture Now: Face of Battle. Moss’s ONE LIFE exhibition on Sylvia Plath’s visual identities opened in June 2017. Another current exhibition, Sweat of their Face: Portraits of American Workers, examines portrayals of American workers in the United States from the 18th-century to the present and includes an accompanying exhibition catalogue published by Smithsonian Institution Press.

Prior to joining the National Portrait Gallery, Moss was assistant curator of American Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. She has also served as a researcher and writer for the installation of the Luce Foundation Center for American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. From 2008-2013, Moss taught an American Studies seminar for the Smith College/Smithsonian program centered on the subjects of the uses of new technology in American art museums from the 19th century to the present and the impact of new media on the exploration of identity in contemporary portraiture. She has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues and her commentaries and articles have appeared in the Burlington Magazine, American Art, click!: photography changes everything, and Gastronomica. Her essay “Performing and Portraying the Copy, c. 1900” will be published in Replication in the Long Nineteenth Century: Re-makings and Reproductions by Oxford University press in June 2018.

After graduating from Smith College, Moss earned a master’s degree from Williams College, and a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation, “Translations, Appropriations, and Copies of Paintings at the Dawn of Mass Culture in the United States, c. 1900” (2012), examines the shifting critical status of copies of paintings in the United States from 1870 to 1905.