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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 special number of interviews by way of Hans Ulrich Obrist mapping the advance of the curatorial field--from early autonomous curators within the Sixties and 70s and the experimental institutional courses constructed in Europe and the U.S. during the inception of Documenta and many 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 party of this mythical curator's demise in 2005, critic Aaron Schuster summed up, "the snapshot we now have of the curator this present day: the curator-as-artist, a roaming, freelance clothier of exhibitions, or in his personal witty formula, a 'spiritual visitor worker'... If artists due to the fact that Marcel Duchamp have affirmed choice and association as valid inventive suggestions, was once it now not easily an issue of time prior to curatorial practice--itself outlined by means of choice and arrangement--would grow to be obvious as an artwork that operates at the box of artwork itself?"

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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. Robert Irwin, for example, was an artist who wasn’t with Ferus in the beginning, and his work was kind of weak—very lyric, easygoing, a not very powerful version of Diebenkorn. He was a conventional abstract lyric painter; his paintings weren’t bad, but they were of no particular distinction. He desperately wanted to be shown by Ferus, but there wasn’t a single artist in the Ferus Gallery—around Los Angeles, anyway—who wanted him in there.

HUO Looking at your program in Stockholm in the 1950s and 1960s, you put on an impressive number of exhibitions despite very modest budgets. It reminds me of what Alexander Dorner, director of the Landesmusem, Hannover, from 1923 to 1936, said—that museums should be Kraftwerke, dynamic powerhouses, capable of spontaneous change. PH That level of activity was quite natural, and corresponded to a need. People were capable of coming to the museum every evening; they were ready to absorb everything we could show them.

In 1962, Hultén organized a show of four young American painters (Jasper Johns, Alfred Leslie, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Stankiewicz), followed two 41 years later by one of the first European surveys of American Pop art. In return, Hultén was invited to organize a show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1968: his first historical and interdisciplinary show, it explored the machine in art, photography, and industrial design. In 1973 Hultén was to leave Stockholm and enter one of the most significant periods of his career.

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