Bern museum to open Harald Szeemann archive during next year's Art Basel

Fascinating insights expected from his personal correspondence with famous artists


The archive of the late Swiss curator Harald Szeemann, one of the most influential curators of the post-war era, is due to go on show at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in February. The exhibition, Harald Szeemann: the Museum of Obsessions, will then travel to the Kunsthalle Bern to coincide with Art Basel in 2018. After that, it is expected to tour to venues in Germany and Italy.

The show of more than 300 photographs, videos and items of personal correspondence will “focus on a series of themes that persisted throughout the Swiss curator’s life: avant-garde artists, utopian concepts and visionary individuals”, says a statement from the Getty, which acquired the sizeable archive in 2011. 

“Szeemann carefully preserved not only the remarkable correspondence he received from artists and colleagues, but also the responses he sent back, keeping a complete record of communication chains that sometimes extend over decades,” says Glenn Phillips, the exhibition’s co-curator. In 1969, Szeemann organised Live In Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, a landmark exhibition of conceptual art, at the Kunsthalle Bern, where he was appointed director in 1961 at the age of 28.