Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"A Brief History of Curating" by Hans Ulrich Obrist

One time in my life I thought it was only the artist that matters.  But alas, it is very much like the music world.  There is the singer/artist, then there are the arrangers/producers.   If you map it out there is the artist,  the curator, and then the audience for that art.   Or perhaps the curator is a translator?   Nevertheless this is a fascinating collection of interviews done by curator/writer Hans Ulrich Obrist on really cutting edge curators from the 60's, 70's era and upwards.

It is good he started with Walter Hopps, because I think he's the curator with the most strongest identity of sorts, in that he's a legend (rightfully so) and in many ways an artist himself.  The way he looks at exhibitions is more of an aesthetic thing than a business decision.  So with that as the foundation, Obrist goes on with numerous interesting individuals regarding the art of the exhibition and the politics of museums.  But mostly this is a very up-beat look at the inner-world of a curator and what they do.  Obrist asks very pointed and clear questions to his subjects, and they themselves come up with an answer that exposes not only their thoughts but also there love for the artist and their medium.   But beyond that it is also a book about 'Taste' and what that means to the world, especially when you use taste to promote a specific vision to the world.  A very specific world I might add.

By nature i think a curator is very much a show-and-tell type of character.  It is someone who is totally turned on by an idea or a work and needs to expose it.  That is it.  Also the skill of the curator is also social skills, because you need to communicate that idea to others who may not be in your particular world.   Not that far from the book editor or publisher in that sense. Nevertheless there is not that many books on the subject of curating, so this makes it important, as well as an enjoyable read.   In the book he interviews Lucy Lippard, Hopps (as mentioned), Pontus Hultén, and Anne d'Harnoncourt among others.   Dip into this book, because you are going to pay a lot of money for it once it goes out of print.
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