The Breakaway Seventies: Harald Szeemann and the Exhibition as Medium

By Sarah Mills.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Between 1969 and 1981 Harald Szeemann worked as one of the first independent curators in contemporary art history; designing, writing, and financing exhibitions partly or sometimes fully on his own. Two of Szeemann’s most well known exhibitions are When Attitudes Become Form (1969), an exhibition that pushed Szeemann into the profession of independent curator, and Documenta 5 (1972), an exhibition where the curator supposedly acheived an “auteur” status. While these exhibitions have received substantial attention by scholars and are indeed noteworthy for their relevancy and impact on exhibition history, they fail to exemplify a philosophy that underscores Szeemann’s most profound explorations of the exhibition as an artistic medium. Three exhibitions from the 1970s, Grandfather (1974), Bachelor Machines (1975), and Monte Verita display the extent to which Szeemann transforms the art exhibition into a quasi- anthropological and installation environment, removing it from considerations of historical specificity and from serving as an arena from which objects of an institutional authority speak.

Keywords: Exhibition as Medium, Harald Szeemann

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.165-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.199MB).

Sarah Mills

Ph.D. Candidate, Art History Department, Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York City, New York, USA


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