A Brief History of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Anne D'Harnoncourt, Werner Hoffman, Jean

By Hans Ulrich Obrist, Anne D'Harnoncourt, Werner Hoffman, Jean Leering, Franz Meyer, Seth Siegelaub, Walter Zanini, Johannes Cladders, Lucy Lippard, Walter Hopps, Pontus Hulten, Harald Szeemann, Daniel Birnbaum

A part of JRP|Ringer's cutting edge Documents sequence, released with Les Presses du Reel and devoted to serious writings, this book contains a distinct selection of interviews through Hans Ulrich Obrist mapping the improvement of the curatorial field--from early self sufficient curators within the Nineteen Sixties and 70s and the experimental institutional courses constructed in Europe and the U.S. throughout the inception of Documenta and some of the biennales and fairs--with pioneering curators Anne D'Harnoncourt, Werner Hoffman, Jean Leering, Franz Meyer, Seth Siegelaub, Walter Zanini, Johannes Cladders, Lucy Lippard, Walter Hopps, Pontus Hulten and Harald Szeemann.

Speaking of Szeemann at the get together of this mythical curator's dying in 2005, critic Aaron Schuster summed up, "the photograph we have now of the curator at the present time: the curator-as-artist, a roaming, freelance dressmaker of exhibitions, or in his personal witty formula, a 'spiritual visitor worker'... If artists in view that Marcel Duchamp have affirmed choice and association as valid inventive techniques, used to be it now not easily a question of time earlier than curatorial practice--itself outlined via choice and arrangement--would grow to be visible as an paintings that operates at the box of paintings itself?"

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Somehow clients could tell that. People came to it like it was a little Kunsthalle. The second one, with Blum, took exactly the opposite tack—it was to look very well-to-do, as if it were doing successful business—whether we were or not. And, I tell you, that approach works. It does work. HUO So at the beginning it was almost like an artists’ collective? WH Right. The solidarity between the artists was very strong. That’s the positive side. The negative side, by the way, is that 33 the artists felt they had a ruthless say over who else would be part of the enterprise.

We did great things together—including going on an excursion to Leningrad where we did a site-specific show, and building a sculpture park in Taejon, South Korea. It was a great experience for me. HUO Who were some of your students? PH Absalon, Chen Zhen, Patrick Corillon, Jan Svenungsson, among others. HUO What were your most significant exhibitions when you took the position at Bonn’s Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle in 1991?

PH I had met On Kawara in Stockholm; he was living in an apartment owned by the Moderna Museet, and he stayed for almost a year. We became friends. I have always thought On Kawara was one of the most important Conceptual artists. The show included all the paintings he had done that year. There was absolutely no reaction on the part of the French press—not a single article! HUO How do you see the Pompidou today? PH I don’t go there very often. I once made the mistake of going back as an adviser.

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