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Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5

  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5
  •  Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5

Curated by

Over 40 years later, Documenta 5, the exhibition that was criticized in 1972 as being “bizarre…vulgar…sadistic” by art critic and essayist Hilton Kramer and “monstrous… overtly deranged” by art historian and art critic Barbara Rose, resonates today as one of the most important exhibitions in history. Both hailed and derided by artists and critics, the exhibition was the largest, most expensive and most diverse of any exhibition anywhere, and foreshadowed all large-scale, collaboratively curated, comprehensive mega-shows to come.

Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 explores the many facets of this particularly controversial Documenta exhibition, which jumped outside the contemporary art sphere into an expanded realm of activity, a legendary extravaganza that invited both visceral criticism and praise. Documenta, a major international contemporary art presentation that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany, is currently in its 13th iteration. This specific 1972 Documenta, chiefly curated by the influential Swiss curator, Harald Szeemann, was a pioneering, radically different presentation that was conceived as a 100-day event, with performances and happenings, outsider art, even non-art, as well as repeated Joseph Beuys lectures, and an installation of Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum, among many other atypical inclusions. The show widely promoted awareness of a contract known as The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, which protects artists’ ongoing intellectual and financial rights with regard to their production.

This exhibition, curated by David Platzker, includes the exhibition catalogue, ephemera, artists’ publications and editions produced in conjunction with the exhibition, as well as published reviews and critical responses. The assembled materials provide a rich jumping off point for art history students, artists, and general audiences to plunge into the international contemporary art scene of 1972, to see what this particularly fertile cultural moment produced. Venues might like to host an evening of local artists’ talks about contracts and rights, building from discussion of Seth Siegelaub’s The Artists Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement, or could work with local artists and groups to generate their own 100-day series of events.

Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 is an exhibition curated by David Platzker and circulated by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the ICI Board of Trustees, and ICI Benefactors Barbara and John Robinson.


Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 reviewed in Trib Live

Exhibition^3: Documenta 5, Harald Szeemann, The Artists, on view at the University of Pittsburgh through March 20, 2015, was recently reviewed by Kurt Shaw for Trib Live.


Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5 at the University of Pittsburgh

Curators Terrence Smith and Isabelle Chartier have collaborated with students in the Museum Studies Exhibition Seminar at the University of Pittsburgh to curate an expanded version of the ICI traveling exhibition Harald Szeemann: Documenta 5.


Harald Szeemann Archives and Library Become Available to the Public

Posted on December 10, 2013   “Perhaps the most famous curator of the post-World War II era, Szeemann was an ardent advocate of modern and contemporary art, from Dada, surrealism, and futurism, to conceptualism, postminimalism, performance art, and new forms of installation and video art.” In 2011, the Getty Research Institute acquired the Harald Szeemann […]


When Attitudes Become Form featured in the New York Times, Frieze, and Mousse Magazine

Posted on September 13, 2013   “The show — its full title was “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form: Works, Concepts, Processes, Situations, Information” — was instant history, a radical moment.” – Holland Cotter The New York Times art critic Holland Cotter recently reviewed When Attitudes Become Form, an exhibition at the Prada Foundation in […]





touring schedule

Southwest School of Art
San Antonio, TX, USA
January 1, 1970 - July 4, 2019

Université du Québec en Outaouais
Gatineau (Québec), Canada
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Onsite [at] OCADU
Toronto, Canada
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Riga, Latvia
January 1, 1970 - January 1, 1970

Contemporary Art Centre
Vilnius, Lithuania
June 1, 2011 - March 2, 2011

Booking Info

Tour dates: January 2011– Indefinitely For additional information, as well as to check specific dates of availability, contact Becky Nahom at 212.254.8200 x 129, or becky@curatorsintl.org.