A contemporary art curator of international importance, Bonami was born in Florence and moved to New York in the mid-1980s where he started his career as a contemporary art critic and curator. Bonami was the artistic director of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo per l’Arte in Turin from 1995-2017, and is currently their honorary director. He was the director of the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, curator of the SITE Santa Fe Biennale in 1997, Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana in 2000, and the 75th Whitney Biennial of American Art in 2010. A senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, he organized the first Jeff Koons retrospective. He then collaborated on exhibitions of some of the world’s most famous contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, Maurizio Cattelan, Rudolf Stingel, and Takashi Murakami.
Bonami has curated shows at the Musee d’Art Modern de la Ville in Paris, the White Chapel in London, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Pinault Foundation in Venice, and Pitti Immagine Discovery in Florence. In 2012, he was the consultant for contemporary art programming for the Milan City Council’s Department of Culture, and in 2013 he curated the exhibition of Bob Dylan’s paintings at Palazzo Reale. More recently, he curated the Maurizio Cattelan retrospective at UCCA in Beijing in fall 2021, and the Urs Fischer exhibition at the Jumex Foundation in Mexico City in spring 2022.
He is a contributor to Il Foglio and Vanity Fair Italia, a host of the contemporary art podcast Artefatti with Costantino Della Gherardesca, and is currently artistic director of the contemporary art center JNBY, designed by Renzo Piano and RPBW in Huangzhou, China.
As a writer, his books with Mondadori include Lo potevo fare anch’io [I could have made that] (2007), Dopo tutto non è brutto [Not Ugly After All That] (2009), Maurizio Cattelan; An Unauthorized Autobiography (2011); L’arte nel Cesso [The Art in the Toilet] (2017). With Electa, Mamma voglio fare l’artista [Mom, I want to be an artist] (2013) and with Feltrinelli POST (2019) and Bello sembra un Quadro [Pretty As a Picture] (2022).