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Curator Talk: Against Exclusion

Jean-Hubert Martin
September 27, Sunday

Jean-Hubert Martin

1971-1982 Curator of the Musée National D’Art Moderne, Paris; from 1977 - in the Centre Pompidou

1982-1985 Director of the Kunsthalle, Bern

1987-1990 Director of the Musée National D’Art Moderne Centre Pompidou, Paris

1991-1995 Artistic Director of the Chateau d’Oiron

1994-1999 Director of the Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Paris

2000 Artistic Director of the Biennale de Lyon

2001-2006 Artistic Director of the Padiglione d'Arte Contempranea, Milan

2000-2006 General Director of the Stiftung museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf

2007 „Artempo”, Museo Fortuny, Venice

2008 Director of the FRAME France (The French Regional & American Museum Exchange)

Jean-Hubert Martin enjoys an international reputation not only as an expert of the European and American art world, but also as an authority on contemporary art from every continent of the globe. His pioneering function in international developments is illustrated, among others, by the following highlights:

Dada – Worthy of mention here are the major Francis Picabia retrospective (1976), with Martin as curator in the Grand Palais, as well as the two major exhibition of the work of Man Ray (1972 and 1982), which Martin organised for the Musée National D’Art Moderne, Paris, in the Centre Pompidou. Within the framework of the „Paris-Berlin“ exhibition in 1978, he spotlighted the Berlin Dadaists. In 1988, as Director of the Musée National D’Art Moderne, Paris, he set up the first exhibition room exclusively for the works of Marcel Duchamp in the Centre Pompidou.

Russian Art – In 1978 Martin put on the highly esteemed Kazimir Malevich exhibition in the Centre Pompidou. Since the preparations for the legendary „Paris-Moscow“ exhibition (1979), he has been in close contact with the Russian contemporary art world and its most important exponents.\

Discovering New Artists – Martin’s main interest is in discovering young, as yet unknown artists and artistic experiments. As early as in 1983, for example in the „Konstruierte Orte“ exhibition, he showed works by the Düsseldorf artists Thomas Huber, Reinhard Mucha and Thomas Schütte. In 1985 in the Bern Kunsthalle, he organised Ilya Kabakov’s first individual exhibition, which was later shown in Düsseldorf. Then came his discovery and presentation of previously unknown artists such as Bruly Bouabré, Bodys Kingelez and Huang Yong Ping, whom Martin first presented at the „Magiciens de la terre“ exhibition (1989).

Non-Western Art – Martin is also an internationally renowned connoisseur of non-Western art. As one of the first curators ever, he has shown examples of this art genre from all over the world in such exhibitions as the „Magiciens de la terre“, thus triggering a lively discussion – which has still going on today – about the significance and value of this art.

His work for the Biennale in Sydney (1982 and 1993), Johannesburg (1995) and São Paulo (1996) further documents this focus of interest. New perspectives on contemporary African art and the creative interpretation of the rules for this type of art were impressively illustrated by the „Recontres africaines“ exhibition in 1994 in the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris. Under Martin’s direction, the curatorship of this exhibition was handed over to an artist from Mali for art from the Islamic world, and for art from Africa to an artist from Morocco.

As Director of the Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, Paris, Martin moved the self-contextualisation of the artists into the foreground. In the „Galerie des Cinq Continents“, one of his first exhibitions in this museum, the artists showed, in addition to their work, objects which illustrated their individual cultures, the history of their countries and the context of their personal histories.

Martin will go even one step further at the upcoming Biennale de Lyon (22 to 28 September 2000, Tony Garnier Hall, Lyon). The focus of this event will be placed upon artists with anthropological perspectives, which are intended to encourage people from Western cultures to apply the term „exotic“ to themselves („Partages d’exotisme“).

In the position as General Director of the Düsseldorf museum kunst palast Foundation (2000-2006), Martin ardently carried on the implementation of the exhibition programme with the emphasis on these and similar aspects and offered surprising new insights into various artistic cultures which became an enormous contribution into the recognition of cultural diversity (for example his exhibition „Altars”).

Currently Jean-Hubert Martin lives in Paris and continues the exploration of „unorthodox“ approach to the art history in his new exhibition to come („Une image peut en cache rune autre: Arcimboldo, Dali, Raetz” for the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais April-July 2009).


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