History of Art and Architecture

Spring 2015 Gallery News

HAA 1020 Museum Studies Exhibition - Spring 2015

Between February 24 and March 20, 2015, the Museum Studies class presented an exhibition in the University Art Gallery entitled Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists. The show was built around a loan exhibition, Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5, curated by David Platzker, Curator of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and prepared for Independent Curators International (ICI), New York.

Documenta 5, held in 1972 in Kassel, Germany, was the fifth in a series of global surveys of contemporary art that began in 1955. It was the first large-scale exploration of the major transformations in art that occurred during the 1960s, and the first to locate them in relation to broad changes in popular and commercial cultures. Swiss “exhibition-maker” Harald Szeemann, who is widely regarded as the most influential curator of his generation, was its artistic director. Materials on loan included the original Documenta 5 catalogue and poster designed by Edward Ruscha, newsclips of the event and issues of the journal Artforum that featured the 1972 exhibition.  

Lead by Professor Terry Smith, Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, with the assistance of UAG curator Isabelle Chartier, eighteen undergraduate students and two undergraduate Teaching Assistants worked on documenting the original exhibition, but also augmented it to the power of 3. In an introduction room, they introduced the Documenta project, initiated by Arnold Bode in 1955, displaying the original catalogues of Documenta 1 through 4. A room was devoted to the curatorial practice of Harald Szeemann, with catalogues of his most important exhibitions, including When Attitudes Become Form from 1969. Another reading room offered a survey of a few selected artists who exhibited in Documenta 5, such as Lawrence Weiner, Yoko Ono and Art & Language, through original artist books, publications and documentary material, all from the collection of the Frick Fine Arts Library at the University of Pittsburgh, and from Terry Smith’s personal collection. An important feature of the UAG exhibition was the display of original artworks created around the time of, and by artists featured in Documenta 5. These included Joseph Kosuth, Jasper Johns, Hanne Darboven, Marcel Duchamp, and Lawrence Weiner, among others.

Students were involved in every aspect of the exhibition: writing the press release, designing the exhibition poster, selecting materials to exhibit, assist in the installation of the gallery and hanging of artworks, and present their curatorial experience at public talks.

In only thirteen days of public viewing, nearly 450 visitors attended the exhibition, including undergraduate Studio Arts and Art History classes.

After visiting the exhibition, Alaina Claire Feldman, Director of Exhibitions at ICI, expressed her desire to support the project by featuring some of the students’ contributions on the ICI website as well as adding some material from Exhibition^3 to the touring exhibition.

Here is a link to the review by Kurt Shaw in the Tribune.