On Curating Postwar

On March 8, 2017, curator and art historian Katy Siegel delivered a lecture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, about the exhibition Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945–1965 she curated with Okwui Enwezor and Ulrich Wilmes at Haus der Kunst, Munich from October 2016 to March 2017. Postwar, and its accompanying publications, explored how artists responded to the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, a radically transforming world in the aftermath of World War II, and—amidst Cold War divides—decolonization movements, the struggle for civil rights, and the invention of new communication technologies. Ambitious in scope, generous in outlook, and remarkable in its capacity for critical and self-reflexive dialogue, Postwar exemplified many of the qualities that made Enwezor the most significant curatorial voice of the last quarter century. As the final event in the Art, Institutions, and Inter nationalism conference on which this special issue is based, Siegel’s lecture capped off two days of intensive discussions on how political internationalism and its attendant institutions impacted the development of art around the world in the mid-twentieth century. During a conversation with art historian Romy Golan following her lecture, Siegel outlined the curatorial decisions that went into Postwar and discussed how exhibitions can confront entrenched ideas of quality and belatedness inherited from Eurocentric readings of modernism.

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