AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Exhibiting the Archive: Dealing With the Remnants of an Artist's Life

by Christine Elisabeth Burger

Institution: Leiden University
Year: 2015
Keywords: artist's archive; post-museum; role of curator; Paul Klee. Life and Work
Record ID: 1243318
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/32209


In many art exhibitions dealing with an artist, archival material from the artist’s life is presented next to the artworks. The display cases containing this material, however, seem mostly to be neglected by the curator and treated as a mere concomitant. This thesis detects a change in the treatment and role of archival material in art exhibitions towards an important display element. This development is located in the concept of the post-museum as described by Eilean Hooper-Greenhill. The artist’s archive as a specific form of archive is discussed and placed in an appropriate theoretical framework. In this context, the role of the artist as the author has to be defined anew taking not only Otto Kris, Ernst Kurz, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault into consideration but also introducing the special role of the anecdote as discussed by Mark Ledbury. When it comes to displaying archival material, various agents have to be considered. The role of the curator, the visitor and the object will therefore be discussed with a special focus on the narrative of the exhibition. In the post-museum, the visitor is allowed independence in interpreting the display and finding his or her own narrative. With the appropriate inclusion of archival material the curator can encourage this independence. Four case studies exemplify the importance of artist’s archival material and its successful inclusion in an art exhibition. With the main example Paul Klee. Life and Work, a recent exhibition at the Zentrum Paul Klee Bern, a way is shown in which archival material could be juxtaposed with the art and what this juxtaposition ultimately could mean.