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Pontus Hultén

To remember Pontus Hultén, legendary curator and director of six art institutions in Europe and America, Artforum asked three of Hultén’s colleagues to reflect on the man and his work.

DANIEL BIRNBAUM

AT A DINNER I attended some years ago, an artist friend of mine asked Harald Szeemann whether “Les Machines Celibataires” (The Bachelor Machines), a legendary 1976 exhibition inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass that treated the theme of obsession in contemporary art, hadn’t been a project by Pontus Hultén. Clearly pained at this younger individual’s mistake—the show was Szeemann’s own brainchild—the Swiss curator nevertheless managed a wonderfully understated reply: “Not quite everything interesting was done by Pontus.”

But, of course, so much of it was. The Swedish-born Hultén, who died in October 2006 at the age of eighty-two, was the founding director of four art institutions—the Centre

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