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Harald Szeemann

HARALD SZEEMANN, who died in February at the age of seventy-one, was the most influential curator of his generation—and, arguably, the most influential of all time, since he practically defined the curator’s role as we understand it today. For decades, he worked out of a studio he called “The Factory” in the small Swiss village of Tegna, conceiving exhibitions that were international in scope and consistently dodging the categories of traditional museum practice, often daring to place historical and contemporary artworks beside anthropological artifacts, sacred objects, technical devices, and occult instruments. Szeemann sought, he said, to create shows that were “poems in space.” And in the wake of his move away from quasi-scientific museological attempts to classify and order cultural material, the figure of the curator would no longer be seen as a blend of bureaucrat and cultural

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