The Friends of California Libre...

23 February 2005

Ode to Harald Szeemann et al.

Greetings, friends,
I won't call this a screed, but just a whimper. Upon returning from Canada on Tuesday (which will be fully covered in a later e-mail) I discovered that three men who had a great influence on my life had died.

Although I had met him less than a year ago, my friend Una's father Harald Szeemann was one of those paternal and wise figures I've learned to respect from my earliest memories, so I recognized him long before I physically met him, in the manners of his daughter and in the admiration of the artists I knew whose work he fostered and inspired. I was planning to see them again this spring, and I know his loss will be keenly felt, among artists everywhere, especially Europe; in the little village of Tegna, where he lived; in Ticino, the canton where he did so much to preserve the heritage of Monte Verita; and in Switzerland, where his skills as a curator and an art historian established the future importance of the entire country to modern art. I cannot imagine the loss to his family, but they are a decent and strong tribe, and while my heart goes out to them, I know I will see them all laugh again, as Harald would have laughed.

If anyone is interested, Jason Rhoades and I are trying to plan a local memorial for Harald here in Los Angeles this weekend. Reply or telephone me for further info.

Here are some documents and interviews that exemplify Harald Szeemann's contribution to our culture:

I have also enclosed numerous other obituaries for Harald as they appeared in the last few days, mostly in Europe; because of the nature of Internet news, some of these links will undoubtedly be soon broken, and most are in German. The first is my personal favorite, because the photo shows Harald pretty much as I last saw him, working in his library in Ticino:

I was also touched by the heartfelt notice posted at the Venice Biennale:,1574,1495172,00.html

Please visit the AP obituary for Harald Szeemann at

Der verwunderte Bewunderer
Die legendäre documenta 5, die Biennale von Venedig 1999 und 2001 - Harald Szeemann machte Ausstellungen, und er machte Ausstellungen zu einem eigenen Erkenntnismedium. Im Alter von 71 Jahren ist Szeemann gestorben.Mehr dazu in Bitte nutzen Sie den vollständigen Seitenverweis:

Addio ad Harald Szeemann il
«Re delle esposizioni»Il critico, storico dell’arte e curatore di mostre di fama internazionale Harald Szeemann è morto nella notte di giovedì all’età di 71 anni. Nato a Berna nel 1933, viveva da oltre trent’anni in Ticino, a Tegna. Fra le numerose attività che hanno fatto conoscere a livello mondiale il suo nome vi è stata la direzione della settore arti visive della Biennale di Venezia dal 1999 al 2001. Harald Szeemann era membro di importanti organi culturali quali l’Academy of Arts di Berlino e la European Academy of Sciences and Arts di Salisburgo ed aveva insegnato anche all’Accademia di Mendrisio.
Vai all'articolo

18. Februar 2005, 22:06, NZZ Online
Harald Szeemann gestorben
Schweiz verliert bekannten Ausstellungsmacher(sda/ansa) Der Schweizer Ausstellungsmacher Harald Szeemann ist 71-jährig im Tessin gestorben. Er erlag in der Nacht auf Freitag einem Lungenleiden. Der gebürtige Berner erlangte 1972 Weltruhm, als er die legendäre 5. «documenta» in Kassel gestaltete.

Kurator Harald Szeemann ist tot
Der Schweizer Kurator Harald Szeemann ist tot. Der Kunstkritiker und Ausstellungsmacher starb bereits in der Nacht zum Freitag im Alter von 71 Jahren in der Schweiz. Das gab ein der President der Biennale in Venedig, Davide Croff, bekannt. Szeemann wurde durch zahlreiche Ausstellungen und seine lebenslangen Experimente mit konzeptueller Kunst bekannt. Croff sagte, Szeemanns Tod sei ein "sehr schwerer Verlust f=FCr die Welt der Kunst".

Harald Szeemann
LE MONDE 20 Février 2005 Geneviève Breerette 940 mots Le plus singulier des commissaires d'exposition. UNE PAGE DE L'ART de la seconde moitié du XXe siècle vient de se tourner. Harald Szeemann, commissaire d'exposition, est mort, vendredi 18 février, d'un cancer de la plèvre. Il était âgé de 71 ans.

Ex-«documenta»-Chef Harald Szeemann gestorbenGelangen Sie hier zur vollständigen Nachricht:

On 22.02.2005 23:10:36, hat Ihnen diesen Link geschickt:

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But I think Harald might have been most amused to have been listed with the American actress Sandra Dee here in the States:
Headline: Obituaries in the news
Date: February 20, 2005

Secondly, I am saddened to report the death of Dr. Gene Scott, who will probably not be known to most of you. Although he was routinely lumped in with other television evangelists, Dr. Gene was a real scholar who spoke several dead languages and gave interesting lectures on the roots of the English Bible, as well as owning one of the best collections of Bibles in the world. He was also a character who liked to scold his more sheep-like followers, smoked a pipe in the dark while he was on, wrote songs like "Kill a Piss-ant for Jesus and Then Kill a Piss-ant for Me", and once asked for money by stating, "Let's kick the Devil in the ass with a wad of cash." I was amazed to see both Mayor Tom Bradley and singer Merle Haggard on his program, which he broadcast from the old United Artists Theatre on Broadway, a historic building that he saved. He also saved the large red neon JESUS SAVES sign that used to sit next to my library atop the old Church of the Open Door, which was torn down in the 1980s. Most important, it was a common fascination with Dr. Scott that brought me together on many "dates" with Miss Ellen Baird, who as some of you know broke off a big piece of my heart that I never could recover. So adios, Dr. Gene, I would believe in heaven only to think you are the only person in yours.

If you have gotten this far, you may be surprised to discover that I am going to dismiss Hunter Thompson in a few sentences. There is no doubt that he had an enormous impact on my life as a radical, a writer and a drug addict. His book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is still the only book I ever read in one sitting. But he chose to leave us when we needed him the most. If I find out later he was ailing with a terminal disease and chose to end his suffering, I'll apologize and do penance with a long, bitter screed. But if he simply went out with a whimper and a bang, I'll let this single quote from the end of that book suffice to say goodbye: "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark­--the place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

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