Bice Curiger

  • passages March 11, 2016

    Jean-Christophe Ammann (1939–2015)

    WITH THE PASSING of Jean-Christophe Ammann, a great, pathbreaking curator has left us. He participated in the vanguard of new departures in art, especially in the late 1970s and ’80s, and he breathed a welcome liveliness into the landscape of German museums—once fussy structures—during his leadership of the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, the first museum for modern art in the country, from 1989–2001. Why has there been such silence surrounding his death?

    A moody, collegial photo from 1972 captures Ammann and Harald Szeemann during the period in which they conceived the mythical

  • passages October 23, 2014

    Walter Keller (1953–2014)

    WALTER KELLER was a publisher, editor, curator of exhibitions on cultural history, inspired bookseller, gallery owner, consultant, catalyst, and loyal friend who, above all, made an international name for himself in the world of photography. Walter was torn away from his manifold activities so abruptly that his death is difficult for us to grasp.

    The art world will remember books he published from the late 1980s to the early 2000s with Robert Frank, Nan Goldin, Richard Prince, Boris Mikhailov, Larry Clark, Dayanita Singh, and others, but more on that later.

    Without him, there would have been no

  • passages November 06, 2012

    Franz West (1947–2012)

    WHEN FRANZ WEST received the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement award at the 2011 Venice Biennale, he delivered his speech with a typically Westian sense of mischief. After offering his sincere thanks, he noted that his mother had written his speech, but that, alas, he had forgotten it at the hotel. That West brought “mother” into play was hardly capricious. It can be interpreted metaphorically as a nod to his Freudian, Viennese background, but also, quite literally, as a reference to the way that his mother, a dentist with a practice on the legendary Karl Marx-Hof, inspired his art. His early,


    AS A YOUNG ARTIST just starting out, David Weiss made a series of drawings that he published in a small edition in 1975, and in the ensuing decades this Regenbüchlein, or “little rain book,” has achieved an almost mythic status. After David died this past April, I took it out again, for the first time in many years, and was struck by the dedication printed at the beginning of an otherwise wordless volume: “To my friends.” What might seem a hackneyed sentiment certainly now, in retrospect, takes on a profound significance. For though David did, of course, have many friends, more importantly he

  • Sigmar Polke

    I FIRST MET SIGMAR POLKE in the 1970s—a decade that has been dealt with too summarily in most of his retrospectives to date, since the prevailing opinion has been that the artist spent these years devoting himself to almost anything but painting: photography, film, travel, experiments in collective living, and other consciousness-expanding activities. But shortly before his death at age sixty-nine in June of this year, an extraordinary exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle—organized by Petra Lange-Berndt, Dietmar Rübel, and Dorothee Böhm—offered a finely articulated, revisionist


    NOT LONG AGO, WHEN I was visiting the Hermitage in Leningrad, I came upon something that astonished me: a medium-large painting by Claude Monet was framed in a cheap, nonreflecting glass that, with a sort of milky effect, filtered away almost half of the image. On my trip to the Pushkin Museum in Moscow I again found these panes—this time over portraits by Dutch masters—which transformed these masterworks into what resembled poorly reproduced plates from a calendar.

    Of course, behind this act of passive massacre there stands the honorable intention of protecting the work of art. But in the presence