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GERMANO CELANT

Stephen Prina and Germano Celant driving to California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, September 1979. Photo: Luciano Perna/Archives.

THERE ARE ENDLESS STORIES about Germano Celant, the truly imposing impresario who died of Covid-19 in April at the age of seventy-nine. Since his passing, he has been called the “North Star of contemporary art,” and “one of the last, if not the last, great myth-maker[s].” He has been compared to Zorro and dubbed a God. But he was also a contradictory figure. While some describe him as an extraordinarily sensitive curator, one who was always on the artist’s side, others saw him as an art-world player who could be utterly ruthless when pursuing his ambitions. “I don’t feel like a man of power,” he once said. “I’ve always been interested in the power of art. Artists know that: That’s why they trust me.”

And yet he did have power. Power over institutions and media, and over the success of generations of artists. He staged exhibitions, wrote essays elucidating their work, and published

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