Utopias and Visions
On the legacy of Pontus Hultén and his time
Utopias and Visions: A symposium on the legacy of Pontus Hultén and his time
Friday 18 November 2022
The Auditorium, floor 2
Free admission. Registration is required.
Contact: Karin Malmquist, curator
In the summer of 1971, an art exhibition was held on the old shooting range behind what had once been a Swedish Navy prison on Skeppsholmen island in Stockholm. The exhibition “Utopias and Visions 1871–1981” drew from a number of utopian scenarios, starting with the Paris Commune in 1871. In addition to an eclectic mix of materials relating to everyday life during the short duration of the commune, the exhibition also presented the architect Buckminster Fuller’s “World Game”, and discussed issues concerning the nature of future communications.
The exhibition is remembered in part for the construction of a geodesic dome, where the artist Moki Cherry and the jazz musician Don Cherry, lived throughout the summer. It was here that they performed music, created set designs and costumes, and staged happenings together with the public.
“Utopias and Visions” was one of the many initiatives and projects conceived by Pontus Hultén during his time as a curator and later as the director of Moderna Museet in Stockholm. All of these demonstrate his fundamental view of art as an integral part of the society in which it exists as well as his firm belief in the creative freedom of artists. The mission of the museum was to create a space for every form of artistic expression.
The symposium will consist of lectures and discussions. Over the course of the day, former colleagues, curators, researchers, writers and artists will examine the legacy that Pontus Hultén has left, as well as the legendary 1960s as a whole, from a multitude of viewpoints. How have Hultén’s visions been upheld by today’s art institutions? How can his curatorial achievements best be described? And what expectations do we have on the future modern art museum?
Karen Archey, curator of international art at Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and author of “After Institutions” (2022).
Claes Britton, journalist, creative director and author, whose latest book is “Pontus Hultén. Den moderna konstens anförare. En biografi” (2022).
Marta Edling, professor in Art History at Södertörn University and currently researching Nordic artistic collaborations 1945–1989.
Andreas Gedin, artist and author of the book “Pontus Hultén, Hon & Moderna” (2016).
Annika Gunnarsson, Ph.D. and Curator of Prints and Drawings at Moderna Museet
Ylva Hillström, M.Phil. and Curator of Education at Moderna Museet
Jean-Hubert Martin, curator, art historian and former colleague of Hultén, Director of Centre Pompidou 1987–1990 and subsequently of several other art museums.
Håkan Nilsson, professor in Art History at Södertörn University and during many years art critic in Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter.
Anna Tellgren, Ph.D., Curator of Photography and Head of Research at Moderna Museet
Sophie Tottie, artist, professor at Royal Institute of Art (KKH) in Stockholm 2012–2022 and former student at Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques (IHEAP) in Paris.
Kim West, critic and researcher, whose doctoral dissertation “The Exhibitionary Complex. Exhibition, Apparatus, and Media from Kulturhuset to the Centre Pompidou, 1963–1977”, was published in 2017.
Annika Öhrner, Associate Professor at the Department of Art History at Södertörn University in Stockholm, with a research interest in exhibition analysis and cultural circulation of the 20th century.
Friday 18 November 2022
10.15 Welcome address by Director Gitte Ørskou. Introduction by Anna Tellgren
10.30 Marta Edling: Getting ”the hang of it”. Translocal Collaborations Stockholm Paris 1944–1953
11.00 Annika Öhrner: Pop Art as Consolidation and Confirmation. Agency Considered through Two Exhibitions at Moderna Museet in the 1960s
Jean-Hubert Martin: Cold War and Freedom of Expression
12.00 Jean-Hubert Martin in conversation with Claes Britton
13.45 Kim West: Pontus Hultén, the Art Workers’ Coalition, and the Idea of the Museum
14.15 Pontus Hultén and the Artists
Conversation between Andreas Gedin, Ylva Hillström and Sophie Tottie
Karen Archey: After Institutions
16.00 On the Legacy of Pontus Hultén and the Future of the Modern Art Museum
Panel discussion with Karen Archey, Claes Britton, Marta Edling, Andreas Gedin, Jean-Hubert Martin, Sophie Tottie, Kim West, Annika Öhrner and Gitte Ørskou
Moderator: Håkan Nilsson
17.00 Visit in the Pontus Hultén Study Gallery. Introduction by Annika Gunnarsson
Recent decades have seen an increase of research in fields such as exhibition history and the role of the curator. One consequence of this is the continuous stream of requests from researchers in Sweden and elsewhere for access to the Moderna Museet archives and collection.
Initially research focused on the legendary formative years of Hultén’s curatorial practices, but interest has now entered a new phase, with several exhaustive studies and dissertations providing in-depth analyses of his later activities and his extensive network of contacts. One of the most recent publications which have cast light onto this renowned museum curator is journalist and author Claes Britton’s book “Pontus Hultén. Den moderna konstens anförare. En biografi” published by Albert Bonniers Förlag in 2022.
Moderna Museet has managed the project Pontus Hultén and Moderna Museet – research and learning, based on an art collection, an archive and a library. This project has resulted in a number of symposiums, programmes and two publications: “Pontus Hultén and Moderna Museet. The Formative Years” (2017), and “Pontus Hultén and Moderna Museet. From Stockholm To Paris” (2022).
Pontus Hultén (1924–2006) worked with Moderna Museet from 1958 to 1973. His international network of contacts enabled him to build a unique collection of modern art during his time as the director of the museum. With exhibitions such as “Movement in Art” (1961), “She – A cathedral” (1966) and “Andy Warhol” (1968); as well as an experimental programme of activities, ranging from performance art to film and contemporary music, Hultén cemented the museum’s reputation as a trailblazer, pioneering what a modern art museum can be.
When he was appointed as the director of the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, he took his experiences from Moderna Museet with him, and he remained there until 1981. Later on he enjoyed tenures of varying lengths in different senior positions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn, and the Museum Jean Tinguely in Basel.
In parallel with his museum positions, he was commissioned to design and assume responsibility for the graduate school education at Institut des hautes études en arts plastiques (IHEAP) in Paris, which operated from 1988 to 1995. From 1997 Hultén worked on the planning of Vandalorum, a museum for art and design in Värnamo, Sweden, where he also curated the exhibition “The True History of the Vandals” in 2001.
In 2005 Hultén donated his collection of art and literature, as well as his own personal archive, that contains letters, notes, photographs and other material, to Moderna Museet.
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