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Kunsthalle Bern Last chance to see Szeemann's obsessions

Harald Szeemann

The curator at centre stage: Harald Szeemann celebrating the last day of his Documenta 5, in Kassel, Germany, 1972

(Estate Balthasar Burkhard)

Harald Szeemann was kicked out of Bern in 1969 after his controversial final exhibition as director of the city's Kunsthalle. His groundbreaking work is once again being highlighted in Bern.

Szeemann's (1933-2005) departure was a big artistic loss for the city. Bern would never manage to attract the European and international artistic avant-garde that flocked into town during Szeemann's time. 

For the curator, though, it marked just the beginning of a prolific international career, becoming practically, "a synonymous with the advent of globalism in contemporary art", according to the leaflet accompanying the Harald Szeemann: Museum of Obsessions external linkexhibition,external link currently on display in Szeemann's original 'laboratory', the Kunsthalle Bernexternal link

Art Szeemann's legacy

During Harald Szeemann's time as director of the Kunsthalle Bern (1961-69), the city became a magnet for radical artists, thinkers and bohemians. 

After Bern, he would wreak artistic havoc in various cities, taking charge of some of the most important international art fixtures, such as the documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennale.  

His legacy cannot be overstated: as one of the most distinguished champions of conceptual art, post-minimalism and other post-1960s avant-garde, Szeemann imploded the stiff eurocentric patterns that used to guide (and still do, in many cases) the programmes of art centres and museums. 

Szeemann's archive, which he referred as the Museum of Obsessions, and included every single piece in his more than 150 exhibitions, was eventually bought by the Getty Foundation - and is now back in Bern. But hurry up: the exhibition closes on September 2, 2018.  

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