Swiss art curator Harald Szeemann
(1933-2005) organized more than 150 exhibitions during a career that spanned almost five
decades. An advocate of contemporary movements such as conceptualism, land art, happenings,
Fluxus and performance, and of artists such as Joseph Beuys, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly and
Mario Merz, Szeemann developed a new form of exhibition-making that centered on close
collaborative relationships with artists and a sweeping global vision of contemporary visual
culture. He organized vast international surveys such as documenta
5; retrospectives of individual artists including Sigmar Polke, Bruce Nauman,
Wolfgang Laib, James Ensor, and Eugène Delacroix; and thematic exhibitions on such
provocative topics as utopia, disaster, and the "Plateau of Humankind." Szeemann's papers
thoroughly document his curatorial practice, including preliminary notes for many projects,
written descriptions and proposals for exhibitions, installation sketches, photographic
documentation, research files, and extensive correspondence with colleagues, artists and
Among the most influential art curators of his generation, Harald Szeemann (Swiss,
1933-2005) organized more than 150 exhibitions during a career that spanned almost five
decades. Szeemann studied art history, archaeology and journalism in Bern and Paris and had
a brief, but successful, theatrical career before he organized his first exhibition in 1957.
In 1961 he became one of the youngest museum directors in the world when he was appointed to
head the Kunsthalle Bern. From 1961 to 1966, Szeemann was also in charge of the exhibition
program at the Städtische Galerie Biel. Szeemann gained prominence through a lively and
experimental series of exhibitions that included early projects with Robert Rauschenberg,
Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and Christo. In addition to showcasing current developments
in contemporary art such as kinetic art, op art, and happenings, Szeemann also examined
areas of early twentieth-century modernism such as Dada and surrealism, including artists
such as Marcel Duchamp, Kazimir Malevich, and Vassily Kandinsky, as well as various fields
of visual culture such as Art Brut, science fiction and religious iconography.
1998.3 Linear Feet
(3882 boxes, 449 flatfiles, 6 crates, 3 bins, 24 reels)
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