The Curator as Arts Administrator ? Comments on Harald Szeemann and the Exhibition "When Attitudes Become Form"

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


In one of the first German language publications on arts management (the Baden-Baden Kunstgespräche, or Art Talks, from 1959) the question was discussed, "Is modern art managed?" The critics implied that the supposed managers of art had "managed" the introduction and dominance of "abstract art" in Germany, which was equivalent to saying that the commercial interests in the art trade had led the managers to offer only this kind of art (in this case, it was Tachisme) in the market, and particularly to have it shown in art institutions. That at any rate was the thesis put forward, for example, at the documenta II by Hans Sedlmayr, who was one of the best known German art critics in the 1950s and a prominent opponent of modernism (cf. Sedlmayr 2006). Among those who rejected this thesis were Theodor W. Adorno, Max Bense, and Daniel Henry Kahnweiler. They argued that before art is sold in the marketplace there is the nonmarket related activity of the artist, focused exclusively on questions internal to art, and that this moment is not endangered by management.In order to simplify this topic somewhat, which from today's perspective seems quite complex, I would like to ask: "Is modern art managed by curators?" And to further restrict the topic, I would like to concentrate on the specific historical constellation around the year 1969. But first, if we are going to be able to judge whether curators manage art, a few comments need to be made on the use of the term "arts administrator".

ZeitschriftThe Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society
Seiten (von - bis)27-42
Anzahl der Seiten16
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.03.2010