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‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ 1969

Page view from ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ (Afterall Books 2010) showing installation shots of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’
Page view from ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ (Afterall Books 2010) showing installation shots of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’

There are few curators of contemporary art who have been as widely discussed and as generally admired as Harald Szeemann (1933–2005). 01The tireless director of the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland from 1961 to 1969, Szeemann later founded the Agentur für Geistige Gastarbeit, a self- mockingly titled office (or ‘Agency for Intellectual Guest-Work’, which uses the term for migrant labour in German-speaking countries) for independent projects that created a blueprint for subsequent generations of freelance curators and cultural producers everywhere. The rough coordinates of his life and career are well known: after early experiments as a one-man theatre company and a dissertation on modernist book illustration, he was selected as successor by the outgoing director of the Kunsthalle Bern, Franz Meyer, which made him, at the age of 25, the youngest director of an art institution in Europe at the time. The Kunsthalle Bern was highly regarded for its authoritative programme of individual exhibitions of modernist artists such as Paul Klee, Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore, and Szeemann developed this series by organising solo exhibitions by artists of his time, such as Otto Tschumi, Robert Müller and Roy Lichtenstein. But he also presented a series of speculative group exhibitions about diverse topics such as ‘Bildnerei der Geisteskranken’ (‘Artistry of the Mentally Ill’, 1963), ‘Formen der Farbe’ (‘Shapes of Colour’, 1967), ‘Science Fiction’ (1967) and ‘12 Environments: 50 Jahre Kunsthalle Bern’ (‘12 Environments: 50 Years Kunsthalle Bern’, 1968), and survey exhibitions such as ‘Junge Kunst aus Holland’ (‘Recent Art from Holland’, 1968) and ‘22 junge Schweizer’ (‘22 Young Swiss Artists’, 1969). 02

 However, it was not until 1969 that he curated the exhibition that would establish his professional reputation and that has since become celebrated as the exhibition most closely identified with the artistic experiments of the late 1960s.


‘When Attitudes Become Form (Works – Concepts – Processes – Situations – Information)’, which was programmed to take place from 22 March to 27 April 1969, 03 brought Szeemann international recognition and much publicity, but it also caused him to leave his job at the Kunsthalle Bern, incidentally launching his career as a freelance curator (or ‘exhibition maker’, ‘Ausstellungmacher’ in German; the formulation that he himself preferred). Shortly thereafter he moved to Kassel, where he took over the position of General Secretary of documenta 5, then back to Bern and his summer house in Italy, until he settled in 1978 in a small village in the Swiss Alps, Tegna, which would become the headquarters of his freelance activities for the rest of his life.

During the 1970s and early 80s, Szeemann developed his most iconic projects, starting with his controversial documenta 5 (1972). Under the title ‘Befragung der Realität: Bildwelten heute’ (‘Questioning Reality: Image Worlds Today’), this multi-part exhibition brought together hyperrealism with kitsch, religious painting and the art of the insane, and introduced one of his lifelong concerns: the ‘Individual Mythologies’ of artists. In 1973, Szeemann began working on a project he called the ‘Museum of Obsessions’, which would continue to occupy him for the rest of life and would be the intellectual umbrella under which all later activities would appear (the Agentur für Geistige Gastarbeit would become the administrative arm of the Museum of Obsessions, while Individual Mythologies would feature as one segment of the Museum). 04Under this banner, Szeemann organised a series of visionary group exhibitions on turn-of-the century utopian artists, dancers, doctors, nudists and ‘Lebensreformer’ (‘life reformers’) starting with ‘Junggesellenmaschinen/Les machines célibataires’ (‘The Bachelor Machines’, 1975–77) and ‘Monte Verità: Le mammelle della verità’ (‘Monte Verità: The Breasts of Truth’, 1978–81). The apotheosis of this period of historical reinvention, a radical blending of artistic and social experiments, literary and musical avant-gardism and all things synaesthetic, was the exhibition ‘Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk: Europäische Utopien seit 1800’ (‘Tendency towards the Gesamtkunstwerk: European Utopias since 1800’, 1983), which focused on several moments in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when artistic invention, erotic desire and utopian social impulses came together to propose a radically expanded and inclusive vision of life and creativity. It is these exhibitions – together with a string of biennials and larger thematic shows curated in the last decade of his life – that confirmed Szeemann’s standing as a curatorial auteur. But the early provocation of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, which led to widespread protest in the local press and community, 05 the cancellation by his board of a planned Joseph Beuys exhibition, and finally Szeemann’s resignation from the directorship of the kunsthalle in the summer of 1969, was the event that launched his international career as a curator of contemporary art.

‘When Attitudes Become Form’ marked the end of a decade of extremely fertile innovation and experimentation that had great influence on the visual arts. In short order Pop art and Fluxus, Minimalism and post- Minimalism, Conceptual art, Land art and Arte Povera transformed the discourse on the nature of art and its materials, questioning how and by whom a work of art can be made, where a work of art can exist and even whether it needs to exist as a physical object at all. In the decade between 1959 – when documenta 2 was one of the first large-scale international exhibitions exclusively dedicated to the art of the present day – and 1969 – when ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ opened – contemporary art had tested almost every limit and redefined nearly every relationship that existed between artist and audience, source material and finished work, idea and execution, and object and contextual surrounding. In the late 1950s, contemporary art was still a game of (predominantly) male artists and gentleman dealers, of connoisseur museum directors and taste-making critics, all grouped in a few recognised centres of classic culture and working almost exclusively in the conventional media of painting and sculpture. By the time the Bern exhibition opened in March 1969, it not only presented art made by a different cast of characters and utilising radically different means of production, it was also part of a larger art network that included gallery shows, temporary festivals, an emerging fair system and a surprising number of exhibitions in public institutions introducing the most significant characteristics of new art in the 1960s to a wide audience in both Western Europe and North America. Most of these exhibitions focused on one specific aspect of this new art, in an attempt to understand or define a new tendency or direction: the 1966 exhibition ‘Primary Structures’ engaged with what now is generally understood as Minimal art;06 in the same year ‘Eccentric Abstraction’ presented work that is now widely described as post- Minimal; 07 the exhibition ‘Arte Povera’ at the Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa (1967) and the event ‘Arte Povera + Azioni Povere’ centred on the Antichi Arsenali di Amalfi (1968) presented Italian artists grouped under the term Arte Povera (it also included the Dutch artists Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk and the British artist Richard Long); 08 and the exhibitions ‘January 5–31, 1969’ and ‘March 1969’ helped define Conceptual art through their innovative approach of de-emphasising the material presentation in favour of the publication or, as in the ‘March’ show, making the publication effectively the site of the exhibition. 09 Szeemann’s exhibition was different in that he tried to resist any one single description or definition, and instead to provide a more encompassing overview of the different artistic tendencies that were emerging after the success of Pop art and Minimal art. ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ brought together works that might have been discussed under a number of different headings – Minimal art, Conceptual art, Arte Povera, Earth art and so on 10 – and, for the first time, staged an encounter between the work being produced in the US and parallel developments across Western Europe.

But ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ was not the only exhibition that tried to capture the larger contours of the art of this moment. Less known today, yet equally prominent at the time, was an exhibition with which ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ shares a considerable history: ‘Op Losse Schroeven (Situations and Cryptostructures)’ was held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam from 15 March to 27 April 1969, opening just one week before the Bern exhibition. 11 Organised by Wim Beeren (1928 – 2000), then the head of the painting and sculpture department at the Stedelijk Museum, ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ had much in common with ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ and referred to the Bern exhibition on the title page of its catalogue. 12 Both exhibitions included many of the same artists, 13 were reviewed together in several publications and were perceived as companion shows by contemporary critics. 14 They shared organisational resources (Szeemann had a larger budget and routed many artists via Amsterdam so that they could install their works for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’), as well as intellectual and conceptual traits. However, despite the remarkable overlap of artists, travel schedules and studio visits, and despite the fact that Szeemann’s notes on organising ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ were published in the catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, 15 the two exhibitions have fared rather differently in their long-term reception, with Szeemann’s show claiming a considerably larger share of the historical record. Due to its somewhat longer roster of artists, better funding and publicity, catchier title, and in no small measure due to the subsequent prominence of Szeemann himself, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ has assumed the role of the representative exhibition of that moment, while ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ has almost disappeared from history, its reputation largely confined to Dutch-speaking historians and audiences. Beeren’s lack of international celebrity, a result of his having spent most of his professional career in the Netherlands, may partly explain this historical disparity, and other reasons for the historical success of the Bern exhibition will emerge at further points in this text. But I believe that only in tandem with ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ can ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ be fully understood. When the two exhibitions are seen together, the differences in choice and temperament that guided their respective curatorial ambitions become clear, and one can more easily discern the particular reading that each represents. Moreover, through a comparative study one gains deeper insight into the complexity of the task taken on by these two curators, working to survey the radical new art that was emerging in the late 1960s.

When the two exhibitions are directly compared, perhaps the most significant difference is the role each curator identified for himself in regard to the exhibition. Whereas Beeren, from the very beginning, sought to observe changes in materials, contexts and fabrication processes, and to develop a new terminology and classification for these observations, Szeemann responded to the changes in artistic practice by inviting artists to replicate their working methods within the space of the gallery. For Szeemann, the curator was, to borrow a description coined by Hans Ulrich Obrist, a ‘catalyst’ enabling artistic production, whereas Beeren, at least at the beginning, saw his role as that of a historian, noting developments and analysing current artistic production from a perspective of past achievements. 16 And yet, without aiming to overturn the general direction of each curator’s working method and objective, some of the artists involved have suggested, in retrospect, that Beeren’s exhibition in fact might have been more closely aligned with the artists’ intentions than generally assumed, while Szeemann’s emerges as more attentive to the concerns of the galleries that represented many of them. 17 Moreover, despite the curators’ collegiality and their remarkably similar travel schedules, their different backgrounds and predilections resulted in some subtle and not so subtle differences in the choice of artists, and in the selection, installation and interpretation of works. I hope that the nature of these differences and the impact they had on the shape of the respective exhibitions will become apparent in what follows, through a close inspection of the genealogies of the two exhibitions, as well as through an analysis of their material and discursive manifestations.

Above all, I hope this comparative approach will help to recalibrate the historical relevance of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ and ‘Op Losse Schroeven’. By this I do not mean to suggest that Szeemann’s landmark exhibition is undeserving of the historical importance it has been ascribed; rather, I aim to make clear how Szeemann’s achievement cannot be separated from other similar efforts at the time, and that Beeren’s contribution will become better known and his efforts duly acknowledged. For although Beeren’s career path up to this point had been significantly more predictable and conventional than Szeemann’s – Beeren was the product of a traditional art-historical education and largely formed inside the museum, while Szeemann came to the kunsthalle from the theatre, cabaret and the experimental literary scene, albeit with a degree in art history – his intentions were as much shaped by the new art he encountered as Szeemann’s. Through his contact with artists Beeren also found himself challenging his institution from within, and expanding his understanding of the role of art in the world. And just as Szeemann left the Kunsthalle Bern after ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ so Beeren chose to leave the Stedelijk Museum shortly after ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, to curate the sixth edition of the open-air arts festival Sonsbeek, based in Arnhem, the Netherlands, in 1971. Beeren’s experience of working on ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ set him on a very different path from Szeemann’s and he was perhaps more immediately dedicated to working with contemporary art and artists, especially those interested in taking art out of the museum and into the landscape, while Szeemann’s interests turned increasingly towards a curatorial practice involving the creation of exhibition scenarios and the exploration of the Individual Mythologies mentioned earlier.

These two exhibitions, opening within a week of each other, represent two parallel but distinct responses to the art of their time, two ways of understanding a moment in which the nature of art production was changing radically and the traditional function of the exhibition space was being challenged by the demands of artists. Through a close examination of the histories of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, and of their material and discursive manifestations, we shall be able to trace two distinct curatorial trajectories, two ways of thinking about exhibition making. In doing so, we shall be able to reflect on the ways in which new art interacts with its audiences and achieves historical longevity through the medium of the exhibition.

The Paths Towards the Exhibitions

By 1968, after seven years as Director at the Kunsthalle Bern, Harald Szeemann had gained a reputation for making cutting-edge thematic exhibitions and, above all, for bold statements. That his flair should be recognised by pioneering protagonists in the nascent arena of international art sponsorship should not come as a surprise, but the sequence of events that unfolded in the summer of 1968 is nonetheless remarkable. On 13 July 1968, Nina Kaiden, the director of Fine Arts for the New York Public Relations agency Ruder & Finn and an important consultant for emerging corporate art collections and philanthropic activities in the US, paid a visit to Szeemann at the kunsthalle. 18 Imagine the scene: she entered a small crowded basement office without a typewriter or fax machine, and stuffed with a ‘totally over-laden, white-painted bookcase whose shelves had begun to bend beneath the accumulated intellectual weight’, where Szeemann sat, clad in ‘white jeans, Manchester jacket and canvas shoes’. 19 Around him, workers were busy in their final preparations to wrap the entire building with 2,500 square metres of reinforced polyethylene, secured with 3,000 metres of nylon rope – Christo’s first-ever wrapping of an entire building; a project that unfolded over the coming days as part of the exhibition ‘12 Environments’, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the kunsthalle. 20 And imagine the proposal: on behalf of her client Philip Morris, Kaiden offered Szeemann substantial funds to organise an exhibition of new art at the kunsthalle, under the condition that it would travel elsewhere. 21 Szeemann’s response was enthusiastic: ‘I said, “yes, of course”. Until then I had never had an opportunity like that. Usually I wasn’t able to pay shipping costs from the States to Bern, so I cooperated with the Stedelijk, which had the Holland American Line as a sponsor for transatlantic shipping, and I only had to pay for transport in Europe. In this way I was able to show Jasper Johns in 1962, [Robert] Rauschenberg, Richard Stankiewicz and Alfred Leslie, and many more Americans later on. So getting this funding for “Attitudes” was very liberating for me.’ 22 But the concept for the show was yet undefined. A week or so after the opening of ‘12 Environments’ and the meeting with Kaiden, on 22 July 1968, Szeemann travelled through the Netherlands with his friend and colleague Edy de Wilde, the director of the Stedelijk, to select artists for a collaboration between their two institutions comprising two exhibitions, one presenting young artists from the Netherlands, the other young artists from Switzerland. 23During the trip Szeemann expressed interest in the new art being made on the West Coast of the US, 24 but de Wilde said he was already working on a similar exhibition:

‘Edy said, “You can’t do that. I’ve already reserved the project for myself!” And I responded, “Well, if you reserved that idea when’s the show?” His was still years down the road, but my project was for the immediate future.’ 25 That day they were at the studio of the Dutch painter Reinier Lucassen, who had asked his studio neighbour and occasional assistant Jan Dibbets to help out with the visit and act as interpreter. After visiting Lucassen, Szeemann and de Wilde also made a brief visit to Dibbets’s studio, where they encountered two tables: one with neon coming out of the surface, the other covered with grass – which Dibbets watered during their visit. Apparently taken by the radicalism of Dibbets’s ‘simple’ experiment, Szeemann later that evening turned to de Wilde and proclaimed ‘I know what I’ll do, an exhibition that focuses on behaviours and gestures like the one I just saw.’ 26 Abandoning the idea of an exhibition of art from the West Coast, Szeemann speculated that Dibbets’s approach to art-making was representative of a new generation of artists, and he quickly began to gather information about others whose works and methods might be understood in a similar light. In the diary he wrote to record the preparation of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, Szeemann identifies this moment as the germination of the project. But the immediate question about how to represent the work of artists who resisted producing conventional art objects – or rather the question of how to make it clear that they were presenting their ideas instead of making works of art for exhibition – was not lost on Szeemann: ‘In the beginning was Dibbets’s gesture to water a lawn on a table. But you cannot exhibit gestures.’ 27

In addition to showing them his work, Dibbets had also told Szeemann about other artists working in a similar vein, among them fellow Dutch artists Marinus Boezem and Ger van Elk, the English artist Richard Long and the Italian Piero Gilardi. In their work these artists incorporated new materials such as rubberised plastics and fibreglass, or declared simple gestures and processes – such as taking a walk in the countryside or observing the daily changes in weather – to be art. They knew each other (Dibbets and Long had studied together in London, van Elk had written an introduction for the Dutch translation of a text by Gilardi) 28 and they felt a kinship despite the apparent diversity of styles and practices.

By August 1968, Szeemann had reported back to Kaiden about his idea to present ‘a confrontation of the artists of the Cold Poetic Image, who had already hinted at the new problems in their work ([Marcel] Duchamp as father, then [Öyvind] Fahlström, [Carl] Andre, [Michelangelo] Pistoletto, [Dan] Flavin), with the “new” artists’. 29 The following month, as research and preparations for the exhibition ‘Recent Art from Holland’ at the kunsthalle took over, Szeemann seems to have already moved away from his initial idea and abandoned the historical perspective in favour of presenting only the ‘new’ artists (of the figures quoted as influences, only Andre made it into the exhibition, with Pistoletto listed in the catalogue as being represented by ‘Information’). By October he had assembled an initial working list of fifty artists, which he submitted to Philip Morris for approval on 30 October, and on 5 November a telegram from New York announced: ‘Exhibition idea accepted.’ 30 And, as Carel Blotkamp has noted in his account of the Dutch art scene of the late 1960s, it was at this time (during the opening of the exhibition ‘Recent Art from Holland’ on 2 November 1968 at the Kunsthalle Bern) that Szeemann had another discussion with Dibbets, van Elk and Boezem, arriving at, as Blotkamp speculates, the final form of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’. 31 On 10 November, Szeemann learned that an exhibition scheduled for March and April 1969 had to be postponed,32 and immediately began to conceive the Philip Morris-sponsored exhibition for this slot, only five days after the confirmation from Kaiden that his proposal was accepted and barely five months before the opening of the show. The same week, de Wilde came to Switzerland to conduct studio visits for the exhibition presenting Swiss artists in the Netherlands, and Szeemann informed him of his planned project. A week later, Szeemann began to travel with breakneck speed to visit the artists for his exhibition, starting with another trip to the Netherlands, in which he did a follow-up studio visit with Dibbets as well as visits with Boezem, van Elk and Gilardi (the latter of whom had travelled to the Netherlands to participate in the conversation and, together with van Elk, met Szeemann at the train station). Later that month, Szeemann travelled to Germany and, for most of December, crisscrossed the US, with stops in New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas and Chicago. And just as the year 1969 was beginning, Szeemann was off to Italy, with a final round of travels to London, Munich, Cologne and Düsseldorf.

It is important to note that Szeemann seems to have had his initial direct contact with Wim Beeren about their respective exhibitions less than two months before these opened. This is surprising given the amicable relations between them, the close contact they had with many of the same artists and given Szeemann’s friendship with Edy de Wilde, who, as the director of the Stedelijk Museum, had to approve Beeren’s proposal for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’. According to Szeemann’s meticulous travel diary, the two curators met up for the first time in the process of organising their shows in Amsterdam early in February 1969, and by the end of that month Szeemann had submitted his diary to the Stedelijk Museum for publication in the ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ catalogue. ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ opened in Bern on 22 March 1969. It was formed as an idea over the course of a few summer months, and seems to have derived its extraordinary sense of currency from the speed with which it was put together – finalised in just three months of intensive international travel.

In contrast, the origins of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ follow, at least at first, a more protracted and conventional trajectory. Early in September 1967, almost a full year before Szeemann began working on ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, Wim Beeren met Jan Dibbets, who had just returned from his studies at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Beeren had observed that more and more artists were experimenting with new materials and found objects, and he was considering proposing that the Stedelijk Museum make an exhibition to look at the development of such practices, tracing a lineage from Duchamp’s readymades and Yves Klein to the most recent practices of such artists as David Medalla (especially his sculptural experiments with sand and foam). In an interview in 1995, Beeren recalled:

Originally I was concerned with the change in the materials of the objects… Materials were important then because you could produce an artwork that made a totally different statement with them… The presentation and the status of the artwork as well as its site were also strongly influenced by the materials. Partly through their increased size, works of art became pretty conspicuous things in themselves. Intransigent and ineluctable, they were associated with situations in museums and galleries. They were also to a high degree transportable market products. The new work of art created or impacted on a situation. People literally went off into the desert. 33

What began with a concern for new materials soon developed for Beeren into an acute interest in the new sites of art and the placement of objects in contexts other than conventional gallery spaces. The artists of Earth and Land art, in both the US and Europe, would become of some importance to him, but initially he looked close to home: to the work of his Dutch contemporaries. As he said:

I remember that I was visiting Jan Dibbets at his house in Enschede at the time, and that I was expecting paintings from him. But he was already off on another track and told me that he was going to Frankfurt the next day to take part in the exhibition ‘Dies alles Herzchen wird einmal dir gehören’. 34

Shortly thereafter, in late September or early October 1967, Beeren made a studio visit to Ger van Elk in his Velp studio near Arnhem accompanied by the then Paris-based gallerist Ileana Sonnabend, to look at his sculptures made using polyurethane. Sonnabend, observing a certain similarity between van Elk’s works and those of artists working in Italy at the time, suggested to van Elk that he make contact with Piero Gilardi, the artist and critic who, it turned out, was exhibiting in the Netherlands, at Galerie Mickery in the village of Loenersloot, near Utrecht, from 8 October to 6 November 1967. 35 By the same time a year later, van Elk had written the introduction to the Dutch publication of Gilardi’s essay ‘Microemotive Art’. 36 And by the end of 1967 Dibbets had also introduced Beeren to the work of his fellow London student Long.

For Beeren, the works of Dibbets, van Elk, Long and others directly tied in with his plans to organise an exhibition about new materials in art. The Stedelijk Museum archive holds notes and early sketches for the exhibition concept, which point to an acknowledgment of the historical importance of the readymade and are structured around the idea of the object in art. Some notes espouse different categories, such as ‘Collage’, ‘Object/Readymade’, ‘Object/Sculpture’, ‘Assemblage’, ‘Environment’, ‘Happening’ and ‘Situation’, while others indicate an attempt to break down these categories further into materials such as gas and light, neon (for which Lucio Fontana is listed as an example), mirrors, fat and so forth.37 All indicate Beeren’s desire to explain the most recent developments as part of a longer historical trajectory, and his determination to construct a map of relationships and categories that would illuminate the emerging art of the time.

Over the course of the following eighteen months, Beeren’s proposal for a show about new materials would slowly evolve into the exhibition ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, a title that borrows a Dutch idiomatic expression referring to a construction that has come loose or a situation that has become unstable. The final concept takes Beeren’s initial interest and renders it more complex by expanding some of the categories that are already present in the earliest drafts (albeit as more marginal concepts, such as ‘Situation’ and ‘Environment’), and placing the exhibition squarely within the contemporary arena. In the process of his research, especially through his contact with artists in Italy and his understanding of Long’s practice (and his reading of Land art through Long), Beeren expands his earlier object- centred categories into notions of site-specificity and ‘situation art’, 38displacement and material transformation, as well as ‘change as a formative principle’ – all informed by process and context, rather than material and objecthood. 39

Starting in summer 1968, around the same time Szeemann was visited by Nina Kaiden, Beeren began to make a more serious list of contacts for travel and studio visits. On 6 August 1968, van Elk wrote to Beeren urging him to visit several artists on Gilardi’s recommendation, after he had learned that Beeren was planning a trip to see the Arte Povera artists in Italy. And around the same time, Edy de Wilde informed Beeren about a number of artists working in Turin (including Gilardi) asking: ‘I got the feeling their work would fit in with the object project. Do you know about them?’ 40 At this point, Beeren had already decided to include in the exhibition the Dutch artists he had visited nine months earlier, and was considering which other Italian artists (besides Gilardi) it would make sense to invite. That autumn Beeren travelled to Turin and other cities in Italy, and a document in the Stedelijk Museum archive lays out a further travel schedule: meetings with van Elk, Dibbets and Boezem between 7 and 19 October 1968; England from 29 to 31 October; US approximately from 1 to 11 November; and Germany in early December. The first draft of an exhibition concept submitted to de Wilde that focuses on situations – titled ‘Cryptostructuren en Microemoties’ (‘Cryptostructures and Microemotions’) – is dated 25 December 1968, and the accompanying note suggests Beeren was departing for Italy the same day. Soon after Christmas, Beeren seems to have arrived at his title, ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, 41 and by 21 January 1969, the first batch of invitation letters went out to artists requesting them to contribute works to the exhibition, and, in some cases, also information and drawings for a special section in the catalogue. At the beginning of February 1969, Szeemann came to visit Beeren in the Netherlands, and the two exhibitions finally crossed paths.

One of the most perplexing questions to anyone considering these two exhibitions in detail is why their two curators appear to have kept their research to themselves for so long and not shared information. Not only the similarity and proximity of sources and resources – the artists who acted as first informers, the essays consulted, 42 the gallerists involved – but also the curators’ amicable relationship suggests that it must have been decidedly more difficult to withhold information than to reveal it.

In recent conversations conducted during the research process for this book, several contemporaries of the curators have remarked on this peculiarity. Van Elk and Dibbets, the Dutch art historian Rini Dippel and Beeren’s former assistant Ank Marcar have all speculated that the acquaintance between Szeemann and Beeren was precisely the reason why both kept their cards so close to their chests. Among the artists, word had spread pretty quickly that both curators were in effect conducting the same research: pursuing largely the same artists through the same cities and galleries. Indeed van Elk has made the curious suggestion that the physical similarity of the two men – each was solidly built, bearded and bohemian in style – made it interesting for an artist to work with them both, as their quickly staggered studio visits turned into a kind of performance; that of a curator chased by his doppelgänger. 43

Even after they had informed each other of their plans, both curators would continue to work quite independently from each other, suggesting that they were particularly fierce about their own authorial efforts. In an interview in 2003, Szeemann reflected on the parallel and well-concealed respective research, but even 35 years later, subtle rivalries persist:

I didn’t know that Wim Beeren wanted to do the same thing as me in Amsterdam. De Wilde should have told me. We’d have done it together. I even gave all the artists the chance to come via Amsterdam, because Beeren insisted on starting the exhibition a week before me. […] In the end, people talked much more about mine, even though his started a week before me. People talked about it more, because it was more anarchist. Obviously there were almost the same artists as its starting point. In Bern, the exhibition took the artists as its starting point. There weren’t rooms with works hanging in them. It was fairly chaotic; it was more innovative. In Bern, you could do a lot more things. Everyone could do what he wanted. At the Stedelijk, you couldn’t take a bit of wall down for [Lawrence] Weiner’s intervention, or destroy the pavement for [Michael] Heizer’s work, or make [Richard] Serra’s lead, or have the whole kunsthalle put under radiation by [Robert] Barry. 44

In fact, Beeren’s restrictions were not as severe as Szeemann suggests. Heizer excavated the pavement in Amsterdam, Serra splashed lead against the façade of the museum, and Dibbets, van Elk and Boezem all made interventions into the fabric of the museum as well. And Beeren did follow a model of artistic collaboration and participation in decision-making. But crucially, Beeren did not have direct control of his institution, as Szeemann did in Bern. Further, the Kunsthalle Bern was a relatively small organisation, with exhibitions generally rotating every two to three months and no collection, whereas the Stedelijk Museum was a national institution displaying an internationally recognised collection of classic modern and contemporary art, alongside a full programme of temporary exhibitions. Amongst a smaller staff team and in a smaller venue, decisions could be taken more quickly, and as both the director and curator Szeemann had considerably more freedom than Beeren, who reported to and needed permission from his director, de Wilde.

Szeemann’s comments in turn point to a more significant question about de Wilde’s central yet conflicted role as interlocutor to both curators during the entire process. A friend and confidant of Szeemann, he was one of the first people to learn about Szeemann’s ideas and was kept up to date about every step in the exhibition’s development. And as Beeren’s director, he knew about his plans for an exhibition about ‘new materials’ from the very beginning and by August 1968 had already recommended artists to Beeren for his ‘object project’. 45 What remains puzzling, of course, is why de Wilde appears not to have informed either curator about the plans of the other. There is plenty of evidence that de Wilde was not altogether convinced that this new art in fact deserved an exhibition. Trained as a lawyer and initially working for the government in recovering artworks stolen during World War II, in 1946, at the young age of 26, he took over the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, where he created a sensation when he purchased an early Pablo Picasso painting for a then colossal sum of over 100,000 Dutch guilders. At the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where he was appointed Director in 1963, de Wilde continued to pursue his interest in Modernism but was also able to embrace Pop art and artists such as Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman. But de Wilde’s love for painting, especially of the École de Paris, did not extend much to sculpture, or to the more advanced experiments in materials and installations that Beeren proposed to him. Those involved in the organisation of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ have recalled de Wilde’s initial reluctance. 46 As Gijs van Tuyl, Director of the Stedelijk Museum between 2005 and 2009 and an intern there in 1969, remembers: ‘Beeren had to work very hard to convince him, after he returned home from a trip in the US. He had met Dibbets and Gilardi. Then he could push it through. It was a big splash. finally he got his way and he could do it.’ 47 According to Marcar, who was a fellow member of staff at the museum and edited the catalogue of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, a substantial part of the quarrels between Beeren and de Wilde – beyond issues of taste and interpretation – involved the allocation of budgets, particularly the expensive inclusion of US artists, who were apparently invited quite late in the process. 48 The earliest documents in the museum archive that include names of North American artists are dated 17 January 1969, and it seems Beeren only made his selection after his travels in November 1968. Furthermore, although the Stedelijk Museum was a much larger and better funded institution, Beeren’s budget was significantly slimmer than Szeemann’s (thanks to the latter’s support by Philip Morris), and Szeemann arranged for many artists to travel through Amsterdam, so that they could install ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ first before heading on to Bern. 49 As images, publicity material, film footage, interviews and eyewitness accounts indicate, while some installations by US artists were constructed on site without the artists present, many of their compatriots came to install their work.

The Installations

‘Op Losse Schroeven’ opened at the Stedelijk Museum on 15 March 1969, and ran until 27 April. 65 works by 34 artists were exhibited in twelve galleries and various ancillary spaces, occupying the ground floor of the museum’s west wing, a hallway, the main staircase, entrance space and upper floor windows, as well as several locations outside the museum.

Amongst the US artists who travelled to Amsterdam to create new works for the exhibition, Lawrence Weiner set off a flare on the city limit for his work The Residue of a Flare Ignited Upon a Boundary (1969). Only a wall label in the exhibition with Weiner’s name and the title of the work indicated that this event had occurred. Richard Serra’s Splash Piece (1968/69), which he executed in hot lead against the external walls of the Stedelijk Museum with the assistance of Philip Glass and Robert Fiore, was lost from the exhibition entirely when it was vandalised soon after it was made. Heizer inserted a metal grate into the pavement in front of the museum (Wigvormige uitgraving in het trottoir voor het Stedelijk Museum, overdekt door een metalen rooster, or Wedge-shaped Excavation in the Pavement in Front of the Stedelijk Museum, Covered by a Metal Grate, 1969), which to the uninitiated might have seemed like an air vent to a metro tunnel underneath. Robert Smithson and Dennis Oppenheim also created new works for the exhibition, but went even further outside of the regular environs of the institution, although they added references (and in Smithson’s case, a portion of the work) into the exhibition space proper. For his displacement piece, Smithson placed a mirror in a heap of dirt in the Southern Dutch town of Heerlen (the so-called ‘Site’ segment of the work) and created an installation of a dirt heap with a mirror inside it in the last gallery in the exhibition parcours (the so-called ‘Non-site’ segment of the work) (Mirror Displacement, 1969). Smithson often divided his work into a ‘Site’ and a ‘Non-site’ component to emphasise the mutual referentiality of the individual part: neither component is complete without the other, which is never present, creating a never-ending circle or mise en abyme: a perpetual pointing to the larger environment and back to the gallery. Oppenheim also chose to make a work off-site, in a field in Finsterwolde near Groningen, some 200 kilometres away from Amsterdam, where, according to Carel Blotkamp, the artist ‘had the land belonging to farmer Waalkens… ploughed and sown according to certain patterns’. 50 The catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ lists a work that would have inscribed the outline of the floor plan of galleries 1, 6, 9 and 12 of the Stedelijk Museum into a landscape in New Jersey. It is, therefore, unclear if this is the same work transposed onto a Dutch, rather than a US, landscape.

Other works outside the museum included interventions by Dutch artists made in direct response to the site. Ger van Elk used glazed bricks to add a decorative rectangular corner to a rounded pavement edge in front of the museum (Luxurious Streetcorner, 1969). Jan Dibbets dug trenches to reveal the base plinth at the four corners of the museum (Museumsokkel met 4 hoeken van 90o, or Museum Pedestal with Four Angles of 90o, 1969), an action that figuratively elevated the museum onto a pedestal and simultaneously destabilised its foundations by laying them bare. Marinus Boezem’s work was meant to interact with the most variable of elements – the weather – in creating an ever-changing and ephemeral work, which further deflated the notion of the museum as a temple of permanence. 51 He hung white bed sheets out of the first floor windows (Beddengoed uit de ramen van het Stedelijk museum te Amsterdam, or Bed Sheets from the Windows of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 1969), to indicate the changing patterns of wind and weather, but also to mock the Dutch habit of placing the bedding in the open window of one’s house to dry – and effectively, to show others that one does not harbour secrets and keeps clean.

Ungrounded, domesticated, decorated and made temporary by the Dutch artists, the museum was also watched. Emilio Prini arrived before the exhibition officially began and pitched a number of tents in the parking lot across from the museum, from where he studied the progress of the organisation and installation. 52 This work, titled Camping (1969), placed literally and figuratively, spatially and temporally ‘before’ the exhibition, expresses perhaps most directly the ambiguous new relationship between artist and curator. Prini’s disposition was sceptical and hesitant; however, this did not mean that he aimed directly to influence the curator or the organisation from his position. His role must be understood as closer to that of an observer, and although the result of his observations remained hidden, the mere fact of his presence prompted conjecture about their effects. In a manner comparable to Long’s walks in the countryside, Prini’s camping functions as a self-sufficient expression of artistic creativity, a ‘real’ action whose result may nonetheless be an imaginary object, a private thought or a trace of the energy invested.

Hence, before visitors even entered the museum, several works already proposed an embellishment of the given surroundings, a critique of the institution and a substantial yet nearly invisible incision into the urban fabric. On crossing the threshold, visitors found a number of Arte Povera works installed in the entrance hall, dispersed among works from the permanent collection that would have been familiar to a returning visitor. A large trapezoid rattan basket by Mario Merz was hung on one wall (Vimini, 1966), Gilberto Zorio’s double row of electric lamps that illuminated a square area of floor (Luci, or Lights, 1968) was placed centrally in the entrance, and one of Giovanni Anselmo’s famous Torsione sculptures (Torsion, 1968), for which he tightened a piece of flannel fabric by twisting it with a metal bar and holding the tension by catching the bar against the wall, was also placed in the atrium. In the staircase leading to the galleries on the upper floor, van Elk installed the Latin-titled Apparatus Scalas Dividens (Apparatus to Divide Stairs, 1968), a canvas curtain that did exactly what the title describes and divided the stairs lengthwise. This juxtaposition of critical interventions into the architectural and institutional conditions of the museum with works by the dominant protagonists of Italian Arte Povera provided the template for the entire exhibition, and set the pace for the sequence of galleries on the ground floor.

Van Elk’s works either mockingly celebrate or directly disrupt the usual interaction of visitors with the museum. The glazed bricks of his Luxurious Street Corner may be seen as a subtle critique of the museum’s canonising authority and as a comment on the role of public art as urban adornment, while the works installed within the building suggest something more uncommunicative and dysfunctional in its social relationships. In Apparatus to Divide Stairs, the cloth curtain bisecting the main staircase meant that people moving up and down the stairs were hidden from each other, ‘so that suddenly’, in Beeren’s words, ‘you were walking past each other without knowing who was on the other side; … an unforgettable act’, while a small hanging ‘brick wall’, suspended on wires above a table in the museum’s cafeteria (Hanging Wall, 1968), made it impossible for two adults seated opposite each other to see each other’s faces. 53

Floor plans and photographic documentation of the display of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ allow for a fairly comprehensive reconstruction of the sequence of works in the exhibition galleries. 54 Few of the images in the archive of the Stedelijk show the exhibition populated, although some do record a performance, when the installation by the Swedish artist Olle Kåks – a series of rolls of white paper mounted high under the ceiling, Process (1969) – was activated by a group of participants. Another shot depicts the mayhem of the gallery after the event. A number of images in private hands, in particular from the archives of Ad Petersen, another curator at the Stedelijk at the time, show artists during installation, but most of the photographs in the institutional archive – especially those showing works inside the galleries – appear to have been taken after the installation was complete and when the galleries were closed to visitors. They provide a record of the installation according to the generally accepted conventions of museum documentation, with little sense of interaction with the public.

The traditional architecture of the museum – with well-proportioned and ample galleries illuminated by large windows and a strictly linear layout of enfilade rooms – meant that the unfolding of the exhibition was by necessity a narrative proposition. Beeren addressed this issue by setting up an alternating choreography between galleries occupied by works of only one artist and rooms with works by several artists. He further structured the viewers’ experience with carefully calibrated density, mixing galleries only sparsely filled with more crowded rooms that follow in some cases more specifically geographic attributions or, in others, more speculative affinities. For instance, after a string of five galleries at the beginning of the exhibition almost exclusively dedicated to individual artists (Dibbets and Douglas Huebler share one room, followed by solo installations by Boezem, Paolo Icaro, Pier Paolo Calzolari and Jannis Kounellis), the first large corner gallery contained a selection of artists considered part of the Italian Arte Povera movement: Merz, Anselmo and Zorio, the same constellation of artists that Beeren had presented in the museum entrance. In the other corner gallery there was a similar grouping of work by three artists from the US: Bill Bollinger, Serra and Keith Sonnier.

A look at the different versions of the floor plan in the archive of the Stedelijk Museum suggests that Beeren’s exhibition structure of alternating densities developed late in the process. The first hand-drawn plans indicate a more incremental set-up, with a series of individual galleries of Dutch and Italian artists, focusing on Boezem and Dibbets as well as Prini, Calzolari, Kounellis (although Greek-born, he moved to Rome in the late 1950s) and Icaro, at the beginning of the exhibition, followed by the corner gallery with works by Merz, Anselmo and Zorio. Only from that point did the drawings indicate several artists sharing a space. Beeren also played with another sequence – this one geographically defined – going from European to American. On his first two sketches, two more galleries with European artists follow after the Arte Povera corner gallery, before a sequence of three rooms that contain, in various constellations, works by Walter De Maria, Robert Morris, Frank Lincoln Viner, Bruce Nauman, Serra, Sonnier, Bollinger and Alan Saret. These rooms are sometimes broadly marked on the plans with the word ‘Americans’ sketched across all three rooms. Clearly Beeren initially understood the separation between European and US artists to be compelling, even fundamental, to his exhibition concept. However, apart from the corner room devoted to Bollinger, Serra and Sonnier, which mirrored the corner gallery devoted to three Italians, his final plan mixes US and European artists, and the sense of geographical distinctness that appears to have preoccupied him in his early planning is largely absent in the final configuration.

Some installations seemed specifically placed to challenge and engage the viewer: Zorio’s Scrittura bruciata (Burnt Writing, 1968) was positioned in the middle of the doorway axis and turned in its orientation so that the viewer had to circle around to interact with it. The sculpture consists of an open, cage-like wire-mesh box and a pad of paper on which viewers were invited to scratch a message with a metal stylus before throwing their note into the box. A heated metal plate at the bottom would ignite the paper and make temporarily visible the invisible relief of the script in the process of calcination, before the paper burnt and disappeared. Other works seemed to illustrate, more or less directly, Beeren’s initial interest in new and unusual materials and their role in shaping and defining a new status of ‘objecthood’ for the artworks they construct. In the same gallery as the works by Zorio were a number of works by Merz, among them a large, ladder-shaped metal construction with a cushion of wax atop surrounded by several bushels of brushwood (Cera ferma che passa, or Still Wax Passing, 1969). Other works included two constructions made of glass and mastic, a kind of natural rubber: in Che fare? (What Is to Be Done?, 1968), Merz spelled out the title of the work in a line of mastic onto several sheets of glass leaning in one corner of the room, and in Pacchetto illuminato (Illuminated Package, 1969), he stacked sheets of glass, covered along the edges in mastic, and lit the opaque layer from behind with a single light bulb. The gallery also featured several works by Anselmo, including the now-classic work Untitled (at the time referred to as Struttura che mangia l’insalata, or Structure Eating a Salad, 1968), a small granite pedestal on the side of which a head of lettuce is held in place under a granite block, tied on with wire. As the lettuce wilts, the wire becomes less taut, making the granite block slip and fall down onto the floor.

The following gallery contained works by a number of artists, including Joseph Beuys, Marisa Merz, Panamarenko, Walter De Maria and Bruce Nauman, but, despite the range of materials and scale, the installation felt mannered and orderly, partially owing to the fragility of the works. A room with works by Nauman quickly led to the other corner gallery, in which Beeren had installed work by Serra, Sonnier and Bollinger. While impressive in their economy, scale and ambition, these three artists’ works did not appear as monumental as could have been expected, considering their often daring scale, brute materiality and frighteningly makeshift assembly. All the works were safely leaned or mounted against the walls, and only Bollinger’s Pipe (1968), consisting of two steel pipes joined by a piece of plastic tubing, jutted out into the centre of the space. But the aggressive assertiveness with which other works by these artists instil unease and physical fear in viewers does not seem to be present here. Two lead works by Serra, Right Angle Prop (1969) and Floor Pole Prop (1969), were installed adjacent to two earlier neon sculptures (Untitled and Plinths, both 1967), forming a sequence along three walls. And across the room in the opposite corner, Beeren placed two other neon sculptures (Flocked Neon, 1968 and Neon Wrapped Light, 1969) and a floor piece (Red Floor Piece, 1968), all three by Sonnier. The similarity of the approaches taken and materials used – neon, industrial pipe and tubing, fibreglass and metals – underlined the proximity of the three artists’ production. All of them worked in close contact and showed at the time with the same gallery in Cologne – Rolf Ricke’s – and had some overlap in New York (Leo Castelli) and Paris (Ileana Sonnabend).

The last three galleries of the exhibition introduced an array of artists – both Western European and North American – difficult to group together by any coherent order or theme. Those in the first of the three rooms included Minimalist painter Robert Ryman, who contributed Classico V (1968), a multi-part painting on cardboard, Carl Andre, Barry Flanagan, Alan Saret, Frank Lincoln Viner and the Swedish artist Kåks, who contributed the performative installation mentioned earlier.

The next two galleries were united by the common theme of Earth art, with works such as Smithson’s mirror displacement in dirt (the ‘Non-site’ element to the work Mirror Displacement, already described), Reiner Ruthenbeck’s Double Ash Heap (1968) and Morris’s Specification for a Piece with Combustible Materials (1969), as well as the knee-high wall built of riverbed stone by Long, which had a room to itself and concluded the exhibition parcours, leading into the museum hallway. This constellation of works created a suggestive and complex, albeit not always clear, juxtaposition of artistic practices, structured through seemingly similar sculptural forms – heaps and mounds – and materials – earth, ash, coal and so forth. Morris’s flammable materials relate to Ruthenbeck’s ash heap through a suggestion of metamorphosis, but while Ruthenbeck has a more classical concept of the poetic qualities of the materials, Morris aims at a classificatory system. Smithson’s earth mound on the other hand functions as just one element of his ‘Site’/’Non-site’ paradigm, as the record of a displacement of matter that always points beyond the confines of the museum. All works, however, were united by the deliberate casualness with which they had come to occupy the galleries, a departure from the much more formal approach of, for instance, the exhibition ‘Atelier VI’, which immediately preceded ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and which appears as an orderly procession of paintings on the wall and sculptures on the floor, generally placed at the centre of the room and in symmetrical arrangements. 55 The expansion into unusual sites and materials was also mirrored by a concert and screening event that supplemented the exhibition. The night before ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ opened to the public, an associated programme of ‘New American Music and Film’ was presented at the Stedelijk. At 7.30 pm on Friday 14 March 1969, Philip Glass performed the organ piece Two Pages (1968), after Steve Reich’s tape recording It’s Gonna Rain (1965) was played and before a screening of Michael Snow’s film Wavelength (1966 – 67).

The final parcours of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ gently moved the viewer from site-specific and conceptual interventions to relatively traditional sculptural works to room-sized environments and finally, in the museum hallway, to documentation of works so large in scale that they could not be represented in any other way – a testament to Beeren’s understanding of the impact of ‘situations’ as a new material for artistic creation, and to his fascination with the experiments in nature by artists such as Long, Oppenheim and Heizer. While Heizer and Long were also represented with newly created works for the museum, Oppenheim’s work was off-site far away in a field near Groningen and only documented with images and plans in a space underneath the museum staircase. As Blotkamp has argued, 56 Beeren’s expansion of the bounds and reach of the exhibition, as well as the special section in the catalogue which presented drawings and unrealised projects requested from the artists, already prefigured an exhibition that Beeren would go on to curate after ‘Op Losse Schroeven’: ‘Sonsbeek Buiten de Perken’ (‘Sonsbeek Beyond Lawn and Order’, 1971), an exhibition of artworks mainly outdoors, taking place across the entire Netherlands, often in sites as remote as barns and fields.

The main floor of the Kunsthalle Bern is structured into just four galleries – a large central hall and three smaller side galleries, which are accessible from the main entrance hall – with two additional galleries located on the basement level. The smaller space and the interconnecting rather than linear layout of the galleries obliged Szeemann to opt for a more concentrated spatial arrangement than that of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’.

Like Beeren, Szeemann allowed for several works to be made in situ and outdoors, making a connection into the urban fabric of the city of Bern. For fig.45 his work Bern Depression (1969), Michael Heizer hired a crane-operated wrecking ball to break open the pavement in front of the kunsthalle and create a cratered hole near the entrance, which drew the wrath and mockery of the local press. 57 Heizer mirrored his ‘depression’ in front of the kunsthalle with a long incision into the garden behind the building: a work titled Cement Slot (1969), which was simply listed as ‘Incision’ in the exhibition catalogue and consisted of a long, narrow concrete furrow incised into the lawn. Dibbets repeated his excavation of the corners of the institution (Museumsokkel met 4 hoeken van 90o, or Museum Pedestal with Four Angles of 90o, 1969) and Ger van Elk replaced a piece of pavement in front of the kunsthalle with a life-size photographic reproduction, which he inserted into the original photographed space (Replacement Piece, 1969). Robert Barry released a radioisotope from the roof of the kunsthalle building (Uranyl Nitrate (UO2 (NO3 ) 2 ), 1966–69) and Joseph Kosuth participated with a series of four advertisements taken out in three local newspapers, in which he printed his conceptual statement I. Space (Art as Idea as Idea) (1968). 58 In the exhibition catalogue, a photograph of the newspapers in which the piece was published is accompanied by a statement by the artist:

My current work, which consists of categories from the Thesaurus, deals with the multiple aspects of an idea of something. I changed the form of presentation from the mounted Photostat, to the purchasing of spaces in newspapers and periodicals (with one ‘work’ sometimes taking up as many as five or six spaces in that many publications – depending on how many divisions exist in that category). This way the immateriality of the work is stressed and any possible connections to painting are severed. The new work is not connected with a previous object – it’s accessible to as many people as are interested, it’s non-decorative – having nothing to do with architecture; it can be brought into the home or museum, but wasn’t made with either in mind; it can be dealt with by being torn out of its publication and inserted into a notebook or stapled to the wall – or not torn out at all – but any such decision is unrelated to the art. My role as an artist ends with the work’s publication. 59

Richard Long contributed to the exhibition with A Walking Tour in the Berner Oberland (1969), which consisted of the titular walk through the Swiss region (made from 19 to 22 March) and a simple poster giving the duration and title of the piece that was shown in the galleries. Robert Smithson placed a mirror into a site in the city, which was then photographed and the image shown inside the kunsthalle (Bern Earth – Mirror Displacement, 1969), and, in what might be one of the most discreet interventions into the city, Stephen Kaltenbach rubber-stamped an image of his Lips (1968) around Bern.

Two events officially unrelated to the show, but that were planned to coincide with it, have since become part of the history of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’. One was an action by French artist Daniel Buren, who Szeemann visited during the preparations for the exhibition but who did not take part and instead decided to work independently: he wallpapered his signature vertical stripes, in a white-and-pink colour scheme, over several advertisement posters and billboards in the vicinity of the kunsthalle, for which he was fined by the local authorities, who had his interventions removed shortly thereafter. 60 The other event occurred briefly after the opening of the exhibition, and might be understood as a spontaneous outburst inspired by the radical expressions of experimentation of its artworks: two Swiss citizens, writer Peter Saam and artist Hans-Peter Jost, burnt their army uniforms near the public fountain on the plaza in front of the kunsthalle, protesting against compulsory military service. Harry Shunk, the New York-based photographer who had travelled to Bern to document the installation of the exhibition and its opening proceedings (and whose pictures provide the bulk of the visual archive from which all scholarship on the subject draws) photographed this happening. As such it has been absorbed into the narrative of the exhibition, largely because photographs of the incident appear on Shunk’s contact sheets together with images of works by exhibiting artists.

Franz Meyer, the éminence grise of the Swiss museum world, 61 published an ‘eye-witness report’ on the exhibition in 1996 and this was the first attempt at a detailed reconstruction. He testifies to the exceptional response that Szeemann’s show triggered in him: ‘The “Attitudes” exhibition, unlike the contextual thematic group shows before, overwhelmed me. It was an event with a palpable inner necessity, an uncertainty maybe that was felt beneath the skin, but one that was also immensely pleasurable and inspiring.’ 62 He noted the crammed immediacy of Szeemann’s installation, inspiring unconventional, almost accidental dialogues: ‘everything was physically close and the viewer encountered it as a (highly productive) jumble, high on the wall or very low, protruding into space from the wall or independently situated in the middle of the room’. 63

Images of the exhibition, especially those taken during the installation period, vividly convey the sense of a densely packed and somewhat jarring installation, with every wall, corner and floor surface utilised to make room for art. However, it would be naïve to imagine that Szeemann did not conceive of a basic structure for his exhibition. As a curator, he was very aware of spatial choreography, and clearly knew where to place the showstoppers, as an early entry in his exhibition diary, right after a studio visit with Richard Serra, reveals: ‘From Cologne, I will get the large Belt Piece as a key work for the exhibition.’ 64 And accordingly, upon entry to the kunsthalle, a visitor would have been faced frontally with the spectacular nine-part rubber and neon belt piece from 1967, a lead Splash Piece (1968/69) executed on site by Serra and three Prop Pieces (Shovel Plate Prop, Close Pin Prop and Sign Board Prop, all 1969), placed to the right of the entrance to the hall. Greeted by such a bold statement, visitors then had to decide which way to turn. To the left, a passage opened onto a single gallery; to the right, there were the main three rooms; and at the left rear corner of the entry hall a small staircase led to the lower level and its two galleries. Each of these paths through the exhibition was defined by different sensibilities and concerns.

The lower galleries were dedicated to an investigation into the energetic, material-driven practices of several Italian artists commonly categorised with the terms Arte Povera and Primary Energy, including Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero e Boetti, Mario Merz and Gilberto Zorio – even though the inclusion of related works by artists such as the Turkish-born Sarkis and, from the US, Neil Jenney broke the national monopoly. The North galleries, to the left of the entrance hall, were predominantly dedicated to more spare, even immaterial installations, which followed decidedly conceptual and performative principles. These included works by US artists Andre, Ryman, Fred Sandback, Mel Bochner and Sol LeWitt, as well as the Germans Hanne Darboven and Franz Erhard Walther.

Turning right from the main entry hall, the two smaller and linked South galleries, which give access to the large and much higher central hall, provided a prelude and context for the densely installed selection of artists to be encountered in the main space: the first of them contained works by artists of a previous generation that can be claimed as influential predecessors, such as Beuys, Claes Oldenburg and Ed Kienholz, but also had works by Long and Flanagan. Beuys and Oldenburg were especially important for Szeemann as perceived influences on the younger generation of artists, both in their organic, process-driven way of working and their early experimentation with common materials unusually employed as artistic media, such as felt, fat and sulphur in the case of Beuys, and papier mâché, rubber and cloth in the case of Oldenburg. Szeemann particularly considered the different uses and roles of the same materials by artists of different generations and geographic regions, as demonstrated by his interest in the way in which both Beuys and Morris were using felt as a sculptural material. By 1968 comparison between the different sculptures made of felt – and speculations about the artists’ mutual influences regarding the use of this material – had become commonplace. 65 To make this comparison direct, Szeemann placed a felt stack by Beuys (Fond, 1969) and several of his Fettecke (lard placed into the corner and edges of a room, 1969) in the first gallery, and Morris’s wall work Felt Piece Number 4 (1968) in the following room. Oldenburg was represented by two sculptures (Street Head II, 1960 and Pants Pocket with Pocket Objects, 1963) that referenced earlier works such as The Street (1960) and The Store (1961), and by two soft sculptures that could be described as representations of common objects rendered in soft materials (Soft Washstand, 1965, and Model (Ghost) Medicine Cabinet, 1966). Morris himself had acknowledged the influence of Oldenburg on his most recent sculptural practices using non-rigid materials. 66

Connecting the two South galleries was Barry Flanagan’s Two Space Rope Sculpture (1967), eighteen metres of heavy commercial shipping rope that gently meandered from the middle of one gallery to the next. In the same room as Morris’s Felt Piece, Szeemann placed four works by Bruce Nauman that measured the artist’s body (including Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals, 1966) in close proximity to two works by Mario Merz, Sit-in (1968) and Appoggiati (Leaning, 1969). A self-portrait of sorts by fellow Italian artist Alighiero e Boetti – a silhouetted figure on the floor made of 110 hand-size cement balls, titled Io che prendo il sole a Torino il 24 febbraio 1969 (Me Sunbathing in Turin on 24 February 1969, 1969) – was placed in the centre of the room, apparently added by Boetti after the rest of the room was installed. Beuys and Oldenburg, Morris and Nauman, Merz and Boetti; Szeemann set up in these rooms a rapid sequence of alternating influences and examples of current practice that respectively prefigured and introduced some of the sculptural strategies of the time, including the use of soft materials, neon, mastic and other uncommon media, the body of the artist as a formative component, as well as stacking, piling, random order and chance as compositional strategies.

The parcours culminated in a grand gallery dedicated significantly, if not exclusively, to the youngest generation of artists from the US, such as Bill Bollinger, Gary Kuehn, Walter De Maria, Alan Saret, Keith Sonnier and Richard Tuttle. Despite being interspersed with works by German artist Reiner Ruthenbeck and Swiss artist Markus Raetz, the North Americans clearly dominated the installation of this central gallery. Many of the works in this room were produced on site, as a short film made by Marlène Bélilos for the Franco–Swiss Télévision Suisse Romande documents. 67 The film shows Sonnier applying fibre particles onto enormous sheets of cloth, tacked to the wall or pulled away from it with strings. Flocked Wall and Flock Pulled from Wall with String (both 1968) are perhaps the most directly visible examples of a creative process shaping the form of a work. The same film also shows Weiner on the staircase leading to the lower galleries producing A 36” x 36” Removal to the Lathing or Support Wall of Plaster or Wallboard from a Wall (1968), a square area of wall from which he removed the surface layer of plaster. As Weiner conveys in the documentary, the work existed already in its verbal description: its execution is not important and could be done by anyone; the idea for the work is what counts.

In the downstairs galleries, installations by Paris-based Turkish artist Sarkis using electricity and water, now known as Rouleau en attente (avec néon blanc) or A Roll Waiting (with White Neon) and Conversation (both from 1968), works by Italians Anselmo, Merz, Zorio and by the North American Jenney can all be broadly grouped in a category of natural materials and processes of transformation. Water and fire, dissolution and incineration, the changing of aggregate conditions and the definition of light – even neon and fluorescent light – as a ‘natural’ material, all come to bear on the art presented on the lower level of the kunsthalle. If the central hall had a strong emphasis on US post-Minimalist practices, downstairs Szeemann surveyed a different sensibility. In these rooms the transformation of materials, although still tied to the creative process in the studio or conceived through an experimental relation to the original object, was also understood to be symbolic or at least metaphorical, and the works were never solely understood as physical manifestations of the inherent qualities of the materials.

Across the street from the kunsthalle, in a space normally used as a school, the exhibition continued with several large-scale installations and some scattered works that seemed not to fit elsewhere. These included Robert Morris’s Specification for a Piece with Combustible Materials (1969, an instruction piece that, as mentioned earlier, was also included in ‘Op Losse Schroeven’), Michael Buthe’s Untitled (1968), a painting-object made of torn-canvas strips on stretchers, Allen Ruppersberg’s Untitled Travel Piece, Part 1 (1969), consisting of a card table covered in white tablecloth displaying four regional newspapers from the United States (Desert News from Salt Lake City, Utah, Omaha World Herald from Omaha, Nebraska, Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois, and The Plain Dealer from Cleveland, Ohio), as well as the work Confluenze (Confluence, 1967) by Pino Pascali, a large field of square shallow metal containers filled with blue-dyed water. According to Meyer’s eye-witness report, works by Thomas Bang, Marinus Boezem, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Paul Cotton, Ger van Elk, Rafael Ferrer, Emilio Prini, Frank Lincoln Viner and William T. Wiley were also displayed at the school.

Looking back on ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ and ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ from a distance of over twenty years, Szeemann asked himself ‘why did Bern succeed?’ and concluded: ‘Amsterdam was conceived more museum-like and nearly each artist had an individual room. In Bern, by contrast, the climate of departure of a new art after 1968 was palpable.’ 68 Evoking what has become the classic image of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, Szeemann characterises the crowded installation in Bern as a direct expression of a climate of revolt, experimentation and freedom, a narrative with which ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ has not been able to compete. The Amsterdam exhibition has likewise paled in the historical record given the energy and excitement attributed to the installation process in Bern. Even though for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ a significant number of artists came to install their works on site – and several site-specific, new and public installations were made – the same activity for ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ has, following Szeemann’s lead, been particularly accentuated. Szeemann’s diary entries for the final week of installation of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ reveal an almost constant coming and going of artists and their assistants, families and friends, as well as gallerists. Heizer and Serra, Anselmo, Merz, Zorio, Boetti and Kounellis, Beuys and Buthe, Ruthenbeck, van Elk, Dibbets and Boezem, Long, Flanagan, Louw and Lohaus, Weiner, Kosuth, Artschwager, Kuehn, Jacquet and Sarkis all arrived in the final days of preparation to install their works – both new and old – in Bern. Moreover, testaments to the intensity of the installation period were, as already described, given corroborating visual form; not only in Shunk’s installation photographs but also in Bélilos’s film. Szeemann would seem to loom large behind these documentary endeavours: he invited Bélilos to film the artists working in the galleries and Shunk’s photographs became a part of his personal archive, rather than remaining at the kunsthalle.

Sources of Influence

Despite the spatial limitations imposed by the strictly linear progression of galleries at the Stedelijk Museum, Beeren, like Szeemann, dreamt of a new approach to exhibition installation – less formal, less museum-like. He directly drew inspiration from a model of display he had observed when travelling to Turin in the final week of 1968. Following a recommendation by Piero Gilardi, Beeren visited the short-lived but influential Deposito D’Arte Presente (DDP), a mix of studio, gallery and storage space (hence, deposito). 69 Located at 3 Via San Fermo, in a 450-square-metre space previously used as a car showroom, the DDP, active between June 1968 and April 1969, was founded by collector and local philanthropist Marcello Levi, who modelled it on the private art associations of the turn of the century. Teaming up with art critic Luigi Carluccio and gallerist Gian Enzo Sperone, Levi worked closely with artists associated with Arte Povera, including Anselmo, Calzolari, Gilardi, Merz, Pistoletto and Zorio. Gilardi helped renovate the space and remained involved over its ten-month run. In a 1995 interview, Beeren recalled his impression of the DDP:

As for the artists, Gilardi was so clearly against the gallery establishment, so I had the idea that all artists thought the same way. This was confirmed when I arrived in Turin, like a bureaucrat, really, with the museum floor plan offering each of them a room. They weren’t the least bit interested. They had their Deposito. That gave them a way of both storing and exhibiting their work; it was a generously sized stockroom where the best works, works that are so well-known today, all stood next to each other. 70

The DDP, as Beeren clearly understood, presented not only a different sort of installation than that of a conventional museum show – it was an outgrowth of a new kind of art. (‘The status of the work of art had changed’,he later reflected.) 71 He also acknowledged the more active role the artists played in the placement and organisation of the display: ‘The extraordinary thing about “Op Losse Schroeven” was the process. Up until then all you did was place something or hang something, but this time the operation was carried out by the artists together with the curator.’72 Beeren was inspired by the presentation of the DDP, given its lack of formality and with works less isolated than in a conventional museum exhibition. He liked the collaborative organisation and haphazard character of the installation, and responded to the dense placement of all manner of objects, hung on the wall, leaning against each other or placed in close proximity to each other on the floor, seemingly without an overarching curatorial logic.

In presenting this new kind of art himself, he took his cue directly from the DDP, albeit carefully calibrated to his ends. He understood that the DDP combined a number of functions: ‘All the works were bunched together, but not in the way they were in the museum basements. There was a degree of presentation, but it didn’t set out deliberately to be an exhibition.’ 73 However, the DDP was not a public space: ‘they did have the door locked. […] It was their work terrain and it wasn’t open to the world outside.’ 74 By contrast, ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ needed to be a public exhibition: ‘No matter how extraordinary and non-conformist it was, “Op Losse Schroeven” did have that aim.’ 75Overall, Beeren seems to have been guided by his desire to integrate the deposito model into his institution, emulating the tentative connections formed between objects in the studio rather than the rigidly constructed juxtapositions of museum display, to the degree that the en suite layout of the galleries would allow for such a fluid presentation. Beeren installed the works in ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ in a way that would suggest their ‘deposition’ rather than their display: often situated along the perimeters of a room, their placement radiated inward from corners, edges and walls, as if the work were just temporarily stored in the room, out of the traffic routes, until another, more ‘deliberate’, placement could be achieved. This applied to all works, regardless of their geographical origin, and not just to the artists he had encountered at the DDP in Turin. Certainly the installation of works by Calzolari and Kounellis in galleries near the beginning of the exhibition followed this principle. Two of Calzolari’s works – Un flauto dolce per farmi suonare (A Recorder to Make Me Play, 1968) and Impazza angelo artista (Auricolare) (Go Mad Angel Artist (Headphones), 1968) – were simply placed in the middle of the gallery on the floor, one parallel to the route from one doorway to the next, the other moved a bit further into the depth of the space. And Kounellis’s coal truck – Senza titolo (Carboniera) (Untitled (Collier Ship), 1967), a low iron cart partially buried under a heap of coal – seemed so temporary and vexing to contemporary taste that visitors to the exhibition apparently began shovelling the coal on and off the cart until a terrified guard intervened. Here, the haphazard aesthetics of the new art could only be understood as meaningful if the material form was considered incomplete, unfinished or mutable, and thus allowing or even inviting intervention, alteration and destruction. Elsewhere in the exhibition, works by Morris, Jenney, Smithson and Ruthenbeck – three North Americans and one German – also appeared to be casually, even randomly, placed in the galleries. — For Szeemann it seems that a similarly important source of inspiration was ‘Nine at Leo Castelli’ (commonly referred to as the ‘Castelli Warehouse Show’, as it took place in the gallery’s storage facility at 103 West 108th Street in Manhattan). Visiting on 11 December 1968, Szeemann saw works by the nine exhibiting artists: Anselmo, Bollinger, Hesse, Kaltenbach, Nauman, Saret, Serra, Sonnier and Zorio. Not included in the exhibition, but present through an intervention in the staircase, staged as a protest, was Rafael Ferrer, who scattered leaves in the hallway of the gallery storage, in the entry of Castelli’s 77th Street gallery and in the elevator shaft of the building on 57th Street that housed the Dwan, Tibor de Nagy and Fischbach Galleries. Szeemann invited all nine artists included in the warehouse show, its curator Robert Morris and Ferrer to participate in the Bern exhibition, clearly responding to what he must have considered a coherent and compelling presentation of artists, and, in some cases, to a reappearance of positions already known from elsewhere.

Although Morris made no ideological claims for ‘Nine at Leo Castelli’, it clearly tied into his larger project of moving away from the sculptural language of Minimalism. Rather than casting the affinities of the invited artists through a consideration of formal vocabularies or shared compositional principles, the show allowed each artist to present a different yet related approach driven by process rather than arrangement, material rather than form, flexibility rather than rigidity and site-specificity rather than permanence. In a review of the exhibition, the critic Max Kozloff identified this fundamental shift away from the relative permanence of previous works: It is not that we are irritated by a disdain for permanence, but we are touched by the knowledge that these works cannot even be moved without suffering a basic and perhaps irremediable shift in the way they look. The life and salience they have as objects, rather than the intactness of their medium, is, therefore, of a pathetic transience. 76 Although Kozloff notes that the works gathered in the ‘Warehouse Show’ refuse a stable shape and any subsequent claim for permanence, he does not yet account for the fact that fixity in ‘the way they look’ is largely besides the point, and that their ‘pathetic transience’ actually does survive their moving. What is required is a new and different involvement of the artist, an active stance toward the placement, installation and interpretation of the artwork that is significantly more involved than the relationship Minimal art had established with the white cube of the gallery a few years prior. It is precisely this newly active role for artists in the exhibition of their work that Szeemann would develop in ‘When Attitudes Become Form’. One of the twelve articles listed in the General Bibliography supplied by the catalogue for the Bern exhibition is Morris’s article ‘Anti-Form’, published in Artforum in April 1968, a few months before the warehouse show opened. 77 Here, in opposition to Minimalism’s subjugation and limitation of materials to a preconceived form, and rejecting its exclusion of process from the finished object, Morris proposes a new art that reverses the formative process and in which material qualities, procedural concerns and unplanned events all contribute to the end result: The focus on matter and gravity as means results in forms which were not projected in advance. Considerations of ordering are necessarily casual and imprecise and unemphasised. Random piling, loose stacking, hanging, give passing form to the material. Chance is accepted and indeterminacy is implied since replacing will result in a different configuration. Disengagement with preconceived enduring forms and orders for things is a positive assertion. It is part of the work’s refusal to continue aestheticising form by dealing with it as a prescribed end. 78 In an entry in his exhibition diary dated 13 December 1968, Szeemann quips that ‘Anti-Form’ is too negative a label for the art he wants to show, 79 and in the catalogue text for ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ he dismisses it again – along with other labels, specifically ‘Microemotive art, Possible art, Impossible art, Concept art, Arte Povera, Earth art’ – for being too narrowly focused. 80 Nonetheless, in his exhibition for the Kunsthalle Bern, Szeemann foregrounds change, indeterminacy, flexibility, transformation and temporality, and celebrates formal solutions based on inherent material characteristics and the overcoming of previous compositional principles in favour of random order and process. I believe that Szeemann’s wholesale embrace of the artists in Morris’s exhibition at Castelli points to an intuitive understanding that these qualities were defining for international practice at the time, an impression no doubt reinforced by the inclusion of two Italians in the group. This emphasis on form and materials may seem to cast a shadow on his initial pronouncements about focusing on artworks that are modelled after Dibbets’s ‘gesture’ (of watering his grass-covered table) and p.21 are, indeed, examples of the titular ‘attitudes’. Szeemann, I would argue, never lost sight of the fundamental importance of the materiality of most of the works in ‘When Attitudes Become Form’. Morris’s concept of ‘Anti- Form’ is then key for understanding the Bern exhibition since it casts in material terms an attitude that Szeemann had detected as gesture in Dibbets. Morris provides a philosophy of process, chance, random order, indeterminacy and impermanence that coincides with several main principles of other artists at the time, but renders the origins, procedures and effects of these ‘attitudes’ in a decidedly physical language.

Another artist writing about the new material-based practices in Europe and the US at this time was Turin-based Gilardi, who had recently abandoned his process-oriented sculpture in favour of connecting up other young artists whose art he considered to be revolutionary political expressions of the time. His best-known essay, ‘Primary Energy and the “Microemotive Artists”’, was first published in English in Arts Magazine in September 1968, with a Dutch version simultaneously appearing in the Stedelijk Museum’s Museumjournaal. 81 Here Gilardi emphasises not just the physical but also the emotive characteristics of the new art. Opposing ‘primary energy’ to ‘primary structures’ – Kynaston McShine’s term and title for his 1966 exhibition of Minimal art at New York’s Jewish Museum – Gilardi puts forward a material condition that is ‘present both before and after ‘structure’”. 82 He describes the ‘psycho-physical time’ of the artist and the ‘sensorial perception’ of the viewer, as well as the changeable conditions of events and atmospheric space, suggesting the metaphorical, poetic potential of materials, which, he concludes, should lead to a ‘primary emotive freedom that is parallel to but independent of “structural action”’. 83

However, Gilardi’s influence on ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ and especially ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ went beyond providing a suggestive theoretical framework: the artist-turned-critic served as a direct advisor to Beeren (and initially to Szeemann) in the selection of artists. By the summer of 1968 both curators had been introduced to Gilardi’s work through Jan Dibbets and Ger van Elk, and in the autumn of that year his thoughts on Microemotive art were in print. 84 Szeemann then met Gilardi on 19 November 1968, when both joined Boezem, Dibbets and van Elk at the latter’s house in Arnhem, as recalled in Szeemann’s diary of the exhibition:

The night of discussion at van Elk’s place revolves less around the necessity of the exhibition than around the way it should be carried through. Gilardi wanted to see the whole thing as an assembly of artists, from which the exhibition would then naturally emerge: no shipping, no art dealers, but rather the results of discussions among artists and the self-criticism of the museum. The title of the exhibition should thus be as non-committal as possible, rather than a new hit that postulates a movement again. 85

Szeemann understood the changed climate of production and how it might necessitate a different approach to the presentation of these positions, but he was not ready to give up on the idea that he would have some control of the outcome. ‘For my part, I was able to assure them that each artist would be represented in the way he feels appropriate, and only when an artist wants me to select him will I do this. The exhibition really shouldn’t simply reinforce the idea of the museum as a temple, but rather bear witness to the fact that, done in the same spirit, different things can develop.’ 86 The title, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, may have been intended to be non-committal but it has nonetheless proved itself to have enormous historical resonance; without positing a new movement as such it gave a hugely compelling description of a new moment in art, and in the curatorial presentation of art.

Meanwhile, Gilardi began to focus his energies on Beeren and ‘Op Losse Schroeven’. Repeating his role as advisor and correspondent just as he had initially tried with Szeemann, Gilardi sent a letter to Beeren dated 1 December 1968 in which he summarised the activities of like-minded artists working internationally and listed related exhibitions in Cologne, California, New York and Europe with a focus on what he calls ‘Funk Art’. 87 Most artists in ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ (and several who made it only into ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ such as Michael Buthe, Eva Hesse, Steven Kaltenbach, Ed Kienholz and Gary Kuehn) are mentioned in the letter, organised by geographic provenance. But in the final paragraph, Gilardi already suggests his farther reaching ambitions in hoping for a new generation of artists that would not be defined by their sculptural experiments but rather through their revolutionary politics:

The current research has formally surpassed the dualism of the Microemotive arts and is set on realising a mental ‘unification’ of the individual and the totality [of nature], beyond the subtle differences between California, New York and Europe; man and his national cultures are finished: what remains is ‘life’. The new artists will refuse all attributions; the others, like those of Anti-Form, Earth works and Arte Povera are closer to Pop art and the New Realists than to the new situation (but eternal spirit) and the cultural revolution. 88

Beeren visited the DDP in Turin on Gilardi’s recommendation around 29 December 1968, as already described. Gilardi followed up with Beeren by sending him a further list of artists, including their contact information and addresses, proposing them for what he called (in English) ‘Witness Room’. 89 In a letter dated 22 February 1969, Gilardi explains (with rather shaky diction): ‘About witness room, I too, I was doubtfull wy the difference between the two kind of invitations was hierarchic; perhaps the witness room it’s a idea for a unique show.’ 90 Presumably, Gilardi is referring to a special section of serigraphed pages in the catalogue where artists were invited to submit proposals and statements.

Beeren decided to ask Gilardi to contribute an essay to the catalogue, believing that, together with his logistical and intellectual contribution to the research and preparation process, ‘it could be said that we have taken up Gilardi’s “work” in the exhibition’. 91 Gilardi submitted his text on 25 January 1969, already translated into English. Titled ‘Politics and the Avant-Garde: Pop and Nouveau Réalisme. Analysis and Myth of the Technological Society’, the essay picks up where his earlier letter left off and traces a lineage from Pop art and Nouveau Réalisme, from West Coast ‘Funk Art’ and New York Minimal art to the most recent artistic experiments, structured through an increasingly left-leaning ideological understanding of society as ‘technological’, ‘consumer’ and ‘alienating’. 92 Quoting Mao Tse-tung and Herbert Marcuse, acknowledging student revolts in Berkeley and Paris, and radical groups in Italy and New York’s Greenwich Village, Gilardi constructs a broad-ranging tableau of the socio-cultural climate at the time, and concludes with the following words:

Between today and the achievement of the ‘global continuum’ of art–life lies a series of ‘economic’ actions that must be undertaken: participation in the revolutionary praxis, demystification of the cultural dialogue and ‘epidermic contact’ between artists all over the world. 93

By mid-1969, Gilardi had stopped his involvement with the art world altogether to work as a ‘political militant’. 94 In a letter to Beeren dated 27 March 1969 (after the opening of the exhibition) he writes in broken English and with clearly broken spirit: ‘I’m not shur if the museums can to transform themselves without “revolutionary break-dow” […] revolution (the new’s) going on. … So, now all people know my double-game with you and Szeman. … I’m really arrived to the bottom: I’ve maked a spiral of mistakes at political and human level; I’m wrong definitely.’ 95 He includes mention that he has refused to cash his cheque from the Stedelijk, and concludes with a line that mixes personal despair with a hope for social progress: ‘Personally I’m ruined but revolution (the new’s) going on.’ 96 But even if Gilardi considered his impact on ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ a failure in political terms, his influence as a guide to art was considerable, as was his introduction of a new model of installation practice based on the activity of a ‘temporary community’ of artists working together in the space. 97

A fascinating final document exemplifies Gilardi’s efforts to make his position heard and reveals the extent to which he felt wronged by the art world he had endorsed just months before: an open letter he sent shortly before the opening presumably to all the artists in the exhibition calling for a public boycott and demonstration against ‘When Attitudes Become Form’. 98 In it, Gilardi reiterates his claim that Szeemann had agreed to organise the exhibition as a workshop involving all the invited artists, so that they could determine the form and content of the exhibition, in order to allow for a ‘“self-criticism of the institution of the museum” and a free and autonomous structuring (autodetermination) of the exhibition by the artists’. 99 He says that, after visiting New York, Szeeman caved in under pressure from the US art market and the main sponsor Philip Morris rather than following through on his agreement. Gilardi ends by appealing to artists to join him in a public demonstration during the press conference and opening festivities of the exhibition in Bern.

It seems that no demonstrations were held, but the extent to which Gilardi was prepared to make his controversy with Szeemann public and the rhetoric of ‘cultural revolution’ indicate the gulf that had opened up between him and the art world over the previous year or so. ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ would mark Gilardi’s exit from the art world for over a decade. Nonetheless, he had a clear idea of what he had hoped these exhibitions would accomplish; the radically process-driven, artist-determined and jointly conceived presentation of works made on site, after communal and collective debate, which Gilardi proposed as a working model to both Beeren and Szeemann, was his preferred production method in a moment of revolution.

In the end, Gilardi’s direct influence on ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ was confined to the early planning stages, yet his advocacy may also be perceived in the way in which Szeemann chose to promulgate the image of the exhibition. It seems that Szeemann understood the attraction of Gilardi’s ideas and cultivated the image of an exhibition put together on these principles. As already described, he chose to promote the show in retrospect on the basis that it ‘took the artists as its starting point’, 100 and an emphasis on artists working together in the gallery space has entered public consciousness through visual documentation of activity during the installation process.

The Titles and Catalogues as Frameworks

Much has been made of the untranslatable title of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’. 101 Literally meaning ‘on loose screws’, it is a Dutch idiomatic expression indicating a state of uncertainty or instability. In the English-speaking world, the exhibition has sometimes been known as ‘Square Pegs in Round Holes’, a title proposed by Edy de Wilde in his foreword to the catalogue, but this translation has never been widely adopted. 102 I believe that an alternative rendition of the title would better capture the meaning of the original Dutch expression: ‘Tentative Connections’. Interestingly, by way of comparison, Szeemann recounts in his diary a conversation with Richard Artschwager in which the artist proposes ‘Weak Interactions’ as a title for the Bern exhibition. 103 In his essay for the ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ catalogue, Beeren suggests a reason for choosing the title, which, he writes, ‘presupposes a construction that, with proper connections and tight relations between the parts, would make a unified whole. Loosening the screws a bit does not break those relations but only disrupts them.’ 104 This metaphorical loosening of tight connections, a celebration of ambiguities and allusions, may be understood as the starting point for the exhibition.

Designed by Wim Crouwel’s office Total Design, 105 the catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ was graced with the striking cover design of a meteorological chart of Europe – part of Marinus Boezem’s contribution to the exhibition – and the bold logo of the Stedelijk Museum – a large red ‘SM’ – while the title of the exhibition is relegated to the back cover. An elaborate double- bound volume, the catalogue consists of two parts: the more traditional exhibition documentation – including essays, biographical information about artists and details of the works they were exhibiting – was staple- bound on the left side of the spread; and a booklet of serigraphed artists’ contributions, bound with metal split-folding pins, was set opposite. This special section included a number of artists not in the exhibition, 106and spanned a range of contributions from sketches of unrealised projects, to simple drawings made on the occasion of the invitation, to more conceptual interventions into the printed page, all clearly executed with an eye toward the role of this section as a separate element of the catalogue. As described previously, Gilardi referred to this part as the ‘witness room’ and suggested it might be regarded as an exhibition unto itself.

After a short introduction by de Wilde and a section of images of the galleries in which the exhibition was held (although with installation views of a previous exhibition), the catalogue opens with Beeren’s essay, which reflects the speculative subject of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and responds impressionistically to the work presented. Beeren names four fundamental categories that he sees as being operative in the exhibition: ‘change as a formative principle’, ‘contrast between material and experience’, ‘form and surroundings’ and ‘art and action’. Rather than defining these terms, he cites works in the exhibition to illustrate each category. Here, given the lack of further explanation by Beeren, it might be helpful to consider the subtitle for the exhibition – ‘situations and cryptostructures’ – as an underlying guide to his thought process: for all the works selected and described, Beeren claims a ‘sitedness’ of sorts, a relation to their surroundings and context; and he addresses their structures as a result of both material and process, and as arising from deliberate formal consideration as well as from other more indirect determinations. What had begun nearly two years earlier as an investigation of unusual materials and a new objecthood in contemporary art had by 1969 developed into a study of the broader and more complex relationships between the artwork and its surrounding spaces and sites, and corresponding modalities of conception, production, reception and context. Questions of material and process, placement and experience and the fluidity between the studio and the museum also triggered a rethinking of how to install an exhibition such as ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ – in which Beeren wanted to reflect these new, tentative relations, but which still had to function as a museum exhibition. Beeren fought for the role of the museum in the presentation of the new art, despite this art’s already apparent multiple resistances against the boundaries of the institution – particularly the radical expansion of place that occurred with the projects of Earth and Land art, which Beeren was only to acknowledge in the galleries with documentation. Nonetheless, he still believed in the usefulness of the museum as a forum of reconsideration, even for these radically expansive practices, and he used his catalogue essay to explore some of the issues they posed and possibilities they allowed.

Evaluating the new art against previous movements and modalities presented at the Stedelijk Museum – Beeren cites ‘Dylaby’ (1962), a landmark exhibition of artists’ environments, for which, he argues, the role of the museum as a provider of neutral space and technical services was essential 107 – Beeren appeals for a different relationship between ‘situation art’ (by which he means the new works presented in ‘Op Losse Schroeven’) and the museum. 108 While environmental art was concerned with space, it still regarded the museum as an ‘empty’ space to be filled and made to disappear. But ‘situation art’ was changing the work of art’s relationship with the museum ‘from an art that dominates and determines the space to an art that takes up a certain relationship to the space’. 109 The new art of the late 1960s corrects, bends, maps, affects, notes, expands, contracts – ‘but never negates’ – the space it occupies. 110

Beeren is clearly grappling both with contemporary criticisms of the museum and with the radical expansion of artistic materials, operations and contexts (what Rosalind Krauss would call ‘sculpture in the expanded field’), 111 and he aims to understand these works and the artistic attitudes behind them as something more than simple enquiries into conditions of objecthood, of relation between object and surrounding space and between object and viewer. In his catalogue essay, Beeren asserts that this new art still needs the space of the museum to function, and likens the museum’s role to that of a laboratory, as many of the works still require enclosed space, concentration and clarity. But he also proves aware that the new art forms of Earth works and Land art sometimes no longer depend on the museum space at all, and that the relationship between object and museum has thereby developed into a more complicated dialogue.

What has become possibly the most iconic exhibition title of the post-War period, and is often used to describe the artistic atmosphere of the late 1960s in general, was in fact only a part of a much longer whole: ‘Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form (Works – Concepts – Processes – Situations – Information’. All but the prefacing motto is reproduced in English, German, French and Italian on the cover of the catalogue. ‘Live in Your Head’, a phrase suggested by artist Keith Sonnier (as retold in Szeemann’s exhibition diary), 112 may be understood literally as expressing an interest in the experiences and emotions, decisions and directions that occur during the creative act, in the process of artistic production. The list of terms suggested in the final clause of the exhibition title are defined by Szeemann in his brief catalogue text as direct outcomes of this creative process:

Works, concepts, processes, situations, information (we consciously avoided the expressions ‘object’ and ‘experiment’) are the ‘forms’ through which these artistic positions are expressed. They are ‘forms’ derived not from pre- formed pictorial opinions, but from the experience of the artistic process itself. This dictates both the choice of material and the form of work as the extension of gesture. This gesture can be private, intimate, or public and expansive. But the process itself always remains vital; it is ‘handwriting and style’ simultaneously. Thus the meaning of this art lies in the fact that an entire generation of artists has undertaken to give ‘form’ to the ‘nature of art and artists’ in terms of a natural process.113

Thus Szeemann understood the new art not as a primarily formal investigation, driven either by the relationship of objects to one another, to their surroundings or to the viewer, but through a fundamentally different relationship between artist and viewer, one grounded in the ‘artistic position’ or attitude, an inner artistic necessity for which the work becomes only a carrier of expression, a trigger to replicate the ‘experience of the artistic process’.

While Beeren declared that his interest was to provide a laboratory environment in which the ‘situation art’ could best present its experiments with space through a focus on its objects, going on to conclude that the most radical aspect of the new art lay in its expanded and unbound relationship to space and matter, Szeemann seemed to think that the most radical achievement of the recent art was its abandoning of ‘the articulation of space’ and its attaining a ‘freedom from the object’ in order to allow ‘processes’ to bring forth the inner ‘attitude’ of the artist as the fundamental locus of the creative act. 114 Unlike Beeren, Szeemann did not attempt to provide a definition of the materials, subjects and objects in his exhibition, or a larger interpretation of the art of the time. Instead, he approached the art he included in the show from a very specific interest in the creative acts that took place on the level of experience of the artists themselves.

The focus on individual artistic practice is also a guiding principle for the organisation of the catalogue, which follows the model of an office binder. Inside basic cardboard covers that are Manila in colour and held together by flexible binding coils, Szeemann assembled the materials in the exhibition catalogue – the acknowledgments, essays and list of works, as well as individual pages on each artist, neatly separated by alphabetical tabs – according to a simple administrative filing logic. Each artist was represented with an A4 sheet bearing a photographic portrait, biographical information and some images of works (frequently pieces included in the exhibition). 115 As already noted, several of the artists mentioned in the tabulated register only appear in the catalogue, without otherwise featuring in the exhibition, and they are recorded in the list of works as participating with ‘Information’ only. Like the insert of serigraphs presented in the catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, this inclusion of additional artists within the catalogue of ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ expands the framework and reach of the exhibition to works and practices that do not lend themselves to display in a gallery space (such as Land art or purely immaterial propositions). However, unlike the separation between exhibition and serigraphic sections in the ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ catalogue, Szeemann’s alphabetical order conceals any division between inclusion and exclusion, between physical and immaterial presence.

Critical Responses

When the two exhibitions ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ opened in Amsterdam and Bern within a week of each other, it was immediately apparent to contemporary observers how intimately they were connected. The history of close collaboration between both institutions by way of exchanging and co-organising exhibitions on a regular basis would also be known to many of the more informed observers at the time. And anyone who read Szeemann’s account of the making of his exhibition, as published in the catalogue for the other show, would come across references to Stedelijk Director Edy de Wilde early in the planning process. The contemporary criticism, published in the daily press in the Netherlands, Switzerland and adjoining countries with an active and internationally oriented feuilleton, such as Germany, 116 as well as that published by art periodicals at the time, sometimes reviewed both exhibitions together, or, when focusing on one only, tended to mention the other as evidence for a larger trend.

The eminent Dutch critic Cor Blok, in his ‘Letter from Holland’, published in Art International in May 1969, places both exhibitions in a line of investigations that also include Lucy Lippard’s ‘Eccentric Abstraction’ (1966) and ‘Arte Povera + Azioni Povere’ in Amalfi, and it reiterates the terms ‘Minimal art’ and ‘eccentric abstraction’, ‘Microemotive art’ and ‘Conceptual art’ as guideposts. Ultimately, however, the author accepts the grander visions of both shows when he writes that ‘“Square Tags in Round Holes” [sic] and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ incorporate too many divergent tendencies to present a very clear picture; the two museums themselves are caught in the whirlpool of emerging possibilities. The confusion may well prove a healthy one, though: it may explode art and its attendant system instead of merely establishing another movement alongside those that have been absorbed by the system during recent years.’ 117

Jean-Christophe Ammann, writing his ‘Schweizer Brief’ (‘Letter from Switzerland’) for the same issue of Art International, displays a certain patriotic pride in his unmistakable opening remarks: ‘Without doubt, Harald Szeemann has organised the most important exhibition of the year.’ 118 And although he does not mention the exhibition in Amsterdam explicitly, he attempts to offer a detailed description of many of the artists included in both shows, and by extension suggests defining characteristics that may be understood to be valid for the art presented. He writes that, whereas ‘“Nouveau Réalisme” was guided by the principle of directly investing a conceptual or figurative reality into an image and its composition – in order to emphasise its character as an object – this [art] is characterised by a visualisation or demarcation of thought processes, which results in the relativisation of the object’. 119 Further international coverage of both exhibitions in the art press followed in September 1969 in Domus, where Tommaso Trini, who had already contributed to the catalogue for ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, reviewed each one in conjunction with a Pistoletto show in Rotterdam. Trini described the ‘Amsterdam and Bern exhibitions’ as having ‘officially launched an artistic revolution that is already very much in the news’. 120

Jürgen Morschel, in the Frankfurter Rundschau, simply declares that ‘the exhibitions in Amsterdam and Bern are basically similar in conception. The Bern exhibition – it was financially supported by the Philip Morris company – with the inclusion of information about 69 artists, is a bit more extensive and complete than the Amsterdam one. Different impressions arise predominantly from the different spatial configurations, which in Amsterdam, due to the smaller rooms, result in a more detailed structuring, isolation of individual artists, and a more pronounced site-specificity (sometimes almost in the sense of an environment) than Bern with its large museum galleries.’ 121 And Laszlo Glozer, in the influential Southern daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, dubbed both exhibitions ‘poor, amorphous and anarchist’. 122 The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany’s most important national newspaper and most authoritative cultural voice, even published a set of articles describing each exhibition separately (but introducing both as related reportage). Hans Strelow considers Szeemann’s exhibition a ‘consequential caesura in the contemporary artistic imagination, while Georg Jappe does not consider Beeren’s exhibition up to par: ‘those who want to be informed will find “Op Losse Schroeven” only a first connection; the Kunsthalle Bern carries the theme farther’. 123 The German press in particular, both in the cultural pages of the national dailies and weeklies and in the multitudinous regional newspapers of the West German Rhine/Ruhr area, also continued very extensive coverage of the touring versions of both exhibitions, the Amsterdam exhibition travelling to Essen, the Bern exhibition simultaneously travelling to Krefeld – two West German cities barely fifty kilometres apart. 124 Despite the extensive coverage, we should not be mistaken about the tone of most of the more local coverage: in one widely syndicated article for regional dailies, the critic called Szeemann’s exhibition an example of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ – and did not mean that comparison as a compliment. 125

‘When Attitudes Become Form’ also travelled to London, even though its make-up and direction were changed on its last stop to become more regionally and conceptually inflected under the curatorial stewardship of Charles Harrison, who organised the exhibition for the city’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. 126 Harrison added the work of Victor Burgin and increased the prominence of four other artists based in England: Bruce McLean and Roelof Louw, who were each already represented in the catalogue but did not show work in the galleries in Bern; Barry Flanagan and Richard Long. Although not invited to participate in the exhibition, Gilbert & George were a notable presence at the opening, appearing with their hands and faces painted bronze. In his review, John Russell, art critic of The Sunday Times, conflated the show with ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ by describing it as reaching London by way of Amsterdam, as well as Bern and Krefeld. 127

As both exhibitions became historicised, their respective profiles began to change considerably. In 1973, Lucy Lippard still listed in Six Years both exhibitions as equally important manifestations of the time. 128 By the mid- 1990s – with the advent of the first wave of anthologies on curatorial practice – scholarly reassessments of Conceptual art and textbooks on the advanced art of the 1960s tended overwhelmingly to cite ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ as the reference exhibition of this moment; while ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, if not entirely ignored, routinely received little more than a mention as the source of Szeemann’s travel diary. 129


Just over a decade after ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ took place, Beeren revisited his achievement and the ideas behind the exhibition in a text written for the catalogue of the show ‘’60’80: Attitudes, Concepts, Images’, which in 1982 looked back at two decades of programming at the Stedelijk Museum. 130 Beeren began his reminiscence of ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ by reiterating the moment’s possibilities:

We are speaking about visual arts in the year 1969, seen internationally. This art is formulated on Seth Siegelaub’s calendar, drawn on the cracked desert floor of Nevada, sprayed on the floor with a paint can by Lawrence Weiner. It is the granite colossus placed in a quarry by Michael Heizer, the floating wooden line of Richard Long in the sea before Amalfi, the cleanly polished triangle of a floor by Ger van Elk, the boiled lead that Richard Serra threw against the wall, the physical behaviour of Bruce Nauman fixed on film with sound manipulation, the ice processes of Calzolari, the incineration cage of Zorio, the igloo of Mario Merz, the hanging sculptures of wood, plaster and water by Neil Jenney, the earth transplantations of Robert Smithson, the lard sculptures of Joseph Beuys, the filmed perspective corrections on the beach by Jan Dibbets, the advertisements by Kosuth in the newspapers, the paintings of Ryman, white on white painted on white paper. 131

He then points to some of the most remarkable features of this time:

That the visual arts crop up on a world-wide terrain of locations and materials, legible in the descriptive lines of a booklet, imaginable on a floor plan, conceivable from a written formula, perceptible in full plasticity but dug out in an almost inaccessible area, changing in a process, appearing in the forms of light and wind and, as such, registered in phases, hidden but made demonstrable in descriptions, creating and indicating space by repositioning geological materials. Considered this way, the visual arts have taken possession of the world. 132

Beeren not only understood the radical expansion of art’s possibilities that characterised the late 1960s, but considered the changes in scale and material, scope and vision, approach and expression as encompassing the entire world, bringing to bear a different hold on the universe. ‘What took place was majestic and grandiose. The earth and its atmosphere, water and the air, fire and ice became the terrain of the visual arts; the experience of time and all abstract measuring systems were involved in it.’ 133 But this almost biblical-sounding description of his experience of the late 1960s and the ambitions he ascribed to the art he encountered at the time should not be mistaken for a simple romanticism. As much as he was impressed by the enormous impact of these changes, Beeren stressed the modesty of means and materials with which the artists worked, emphasising, with almost moral force, the way in which this art manifested a ‘purification to the essence of things’:

In order to register, to indicate or to reveal it, the most exact formulations are sought and placed in accentuated space and emptiness. Every serviceable medium is withdrawn from its ordinary usage and employed in a highly concentrated form: language, photography, film, sound, the geographical map, the floor plan, the drawing. Time is taken for everything; duration is assumed for everything; attention is expected to be given to the slightest thing. 134

With hindsight, Beeren recasts and clarifies some of the central arguments of his catalogue essay for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, but he does not fundamentally modify them. Art has presented and exposed a new relationship with space, be it the immediate surroundings of the white cube of a gallery or the vast plains of the North American desert. Art has expanded its vocabulary of materials to include air and earth, water and sky, words and ideas. But art has also produced a new language of analysis; a concentrated, conceptual approach to exegesis and understanding that is absolutely serious about its enquiries. And Beeren understands this enquiry as a uniting rather than divisive force, an internationalism that goes beyond political differences between Western European and North American artists: ‘The point is that throughout the world a group of extremely intelligent people were taking art very seriously, understood its qualities very well, and have made art the main issue of their lives.’ 135

Beeren’s essay makes it clear that ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ changed his understanding of art forever. As already mentioned, shortly after the exhibition he left the Stedelijk Museum to work on Sonsbeek 71, ‘Sonsbeek Buiten de Perken’, the public art project that would occupy him for two years and allowed him to radically reconsider and expand his notions about art and nature, objects and their context, as well as the power of simple, discrete gestures. Thinking of it as a next step to develop the lessons learned from ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, Beeren declared: ‘in a certain sense Sonsbeek was the sequel’. 136 For Sonsbeek, which is one of the oldest recurring exhibitions of art taking place in the public sphere, 137 Beeren radically expanded the parcours, placing works in many different cities, often just a single object in one location. According to Carel Blotkamp’s account, Sonsbeek 71 ‘extended over the whole of the Netherlands, from the Waddenmuseum in Pieterburen, where Richard Long showed a single photograph of a sculpture that he had completed on the island of Schiermonnikoog, to a barn in the village of Vlake, Zealand, where you could sit on bales of straw and listen to an interview about Joseph Beuys on the headphones. It would have taken at least a week to visit every location and event.’ 138

But by the time Sonsbeek 71 concluded its run, Beeren felt that art, artists and maybe the world had changed; the public’s response had not been better than the reactions to ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, and after two years of experimenting with taking the most advanced art of its time outside the institution, Beeren reconsidered his move:

After Sonsbeek however I really wanted to get back to the museum. There was so much aggression around me, from the public and from the press. It was two years on now and the artists had in fact embarked on their careers with presentations in well-ordered rooms and so on. I just couldn’t accept it that the trowel that Oldenburg had made for Sonsbeek was painted blue afterwards and that it was placed in the garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum. It became so unexceptionable [sic]. Even so I longed to be back in a serious art institute after all that fuss. 139

But the return into a serious art institute would take a bit longer than the exit from it. In 1972, Beeren took a teaching position at the University of Groningen and it would not be until the end of the decade that he worked again for a museum, and nearly fifteen years until he could return to the Stedelijk, this time as Director. 140

Beeren commenced the research that would lead to ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ with a relatively traditional enquiry into the changing application and representation of materials, then slowly came to see the more profound transformation that had permeated these experimental practices, and he drew lessons that placed him outside of the museum infrastructure to affect a new relationship between art and its environs. In contrast, Szeemann started his parallel research, which would lead to ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, from a dialogue with artistic practice as a creative act and as a processual approach to interacting with the world. And although he likewise left the Kunsthalle Bern shortly after his spring 1969 exhibition, his resignation and remove from institutional responsibilities was instead accompanied by a rapid increase in stature and power in the international art world.

Szeemann, from the very beginning, had a keen interest in and sensibility for the centrality of the artistic gesture, but accompanying this was an appreciation of the object as the carrier of meaning. Precisely because he was able to understand the most contemporary artistic expressions and experiments in historical terms without ever intending to explain them as a part of a historical impetus or continuum, he could respond to artists as a co-conspirator, knowing exactly where the work had sprung from without the need to judge it in art-historical terms. Szeemann turned his attention to the selection and presentation of what he considered the most accomplished and radical works, with a keen sense of the drama and spectacle of the avant-garde and a knack for displaying the works to their best effect. He could capitalise on allowing artists a free hand because he had given the selection of the work, or rather the parameters within which he wanted the work to be understood, very precise prior consideration, and he did not shy away from involving galleries and collectors early in the process. He laid out the exhibition with an eye toward the effect of the singular object strategically placed, and with a subtle hand for the suggestions of influence and confluence, of historical succession and contemporaneity, for the mixing of like-minded artists and the opening up of relationships where in principle there were none. Furthermore, Szeemann understood that artists are almost always the best judges of how their work should be placed and be seen. By starting from the physical reality of an object rather than its semantic reality, and drawing connections to its vital rather than its symbolic qualities, Szeemann gave his exhibition installation a sense of drama and dynamism that had few if any precedents, certainly for such radical contemporary art. But at the same time, if Gilardi’s version of events (and certainly the fervour of his actions in the immediate aftermath of collaborating with Szeemann) is taken into account, we need to challenge Szeemann’s claims about the extent to which ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ was a realm of artistic freedom. The reasons that made Szeemann’s installation so successful and memorable were precisely his choosing works before he chose artists, his strong voice in his initial consultation with an artist and the limits he set upon allowing artists truly a free hand. Indeed, he always needed both aspects – the artistic vision and its physical manifestation, ‘attitude’ and ‘form’ – to succeed before he would invite an artist to participate.

When Harald Szeemann resigned from his position as Director of the Kunsthalle Bern in the summer of 1969, he understood the hostilities he faced in the local administration and regional artistic base as a sign that he had outgrown the institution and needed to find a larger stage for his curatorial ambitions. But the nature of his curatorial vision, his speculative approach and proximity to the experimental nature of artistic practice were not only too advanced for any conventional institution at the time in Europe; increasingly, the topics of his enquiries also coalesced around geographic and cultural specificities that required him to venture into particular terrains, such as the top of a mountain in the Swiss alps (as for his complex of exhibitions around Monte Verità). Furthermore, one could argue that the very core of his innovative approach to curatorial practice was modelled on an idea of artistic production: more sculptural than essayistic, it involved accumulation, piling, random juxtaposition and forceful joining. After ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, Szeemann increasingly drew from his personal cultural obsessions, such as the nature and history of utopias, and he developed formulas and terminologies that have since become his signature: the Individual Mythologies of documenta 5 that described the origin of creation within the cosmos of the artistic imagination; the utopian aspirations toward a unity of the arts (in ‘Der Hang zum Gesamtkunstwerk’), a merging of art and life and a radical transformation for all relationships that would become the historical source of almost all of his exhibitions; and the later attempts to mine the visionary potential of the margins of Europe via a series of shows with a national focus (‘Visionäre Schweiz’ or ‘Visionary Switzerland’ in 1991, ‘Austria im Rosennetz’ or ‘Austria in a Net of Roses’ in 1996, ‘La Belgique Visionnaire’ or ‘Visionary Belgium’ in 2005), which Aaron Schuster conjured elegantly by borrowing Szeemann’s own terminology, describing them as ‘“pataphysical anthropology”: an attempt to discern the “spiritual contours” of a region via an examination of its most extraordinary and even unclassifiable cultural artefacts’.

For Beeren, whose approach to art was, as has already been described, partly shaped by his more traditional art-historical education, partly necessitated by his comparatively conventional institutional role and quietly inquisitive nature, contact with artists meant, first and foremost, an intellectual exchange. To understand works and artists he placed them in a historical continuum and experienced and described the effect they have on the viewer. The role of the curator was, for Beeren, a quest to ascribe meaning, to understand and interpret artistic intentions, actions and the effect of the objects that would result from them. Armed with his academic training and a decade of curatorial practice in Dutch museums, he approached ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ with the aim of tracing the use of new materials in the most recent art production. But with the guidance of Dibbets and van Elk, and above all the persistent advice of Gilardi, his focus changed quickly and profoundly, and by the time the exhibition opened not much was left of his initial impulse. Instead, Beeren had drawn lessons from his encounters with artist-organised experimentations of display in Italy and elsewhere, there instructed in the role of revolutionary politics in recent art and its shortcomings, and he had come to value the poetry of immaterial actions and the communion of art and nature in the experiments of Land art artists as different as Long in England and Smithson in the US. Moreover, he felt the most profound lessons that could be learned from the experiments of the late 1960s were not so much the new freedom of material expression, the primacy of the artistic gesture or the temporality and ephemerality of an artistic intervention, but an awareness of the interaction between art and its environment, a newfound site-specificity that not only involved formal concerns for the white cube and the institution, but aimed at a relationship of a higher order, clearly phenomenological and essentially spiritual. While Szeemann travelled a route that would take him from an interest in fundamental gestures of artistic intensity to an investigation of the effect of these gestures in material sedimentation – a profoundly anti-metaphysical proposition – and further on to the makeup of a collective utopian material culture, Beeren traced the reverse journey, from a curiosity about the repercussions of industrial material culture on art making toward a practical philosophy of the union between humans and nature as a study in relations – a poetry of object, site, viewer and surroundings.

Looking back at ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ and ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ from a distance of more than forty years, it is important to remember that differences in understanding and approach on the part of the two curators responsible came to bear on the physical and intellectual contours of the exhibitions (and their contemporary reviews), whilst influencing our retrospective attempts at historical analysis. It is far from sure that we have in fact a clearer view of the ways in which the differences between the two shows must be understood; it may be that to a contemporaneous observer in 1969 they were distinct in ways that now elude us. And yet, compared with the many other attempts to respond to new developments in art that occurred at roughly the same time (from documenta 4 in 1968 to documenta 5 in 1972), it seems striking how much these two exhibitions share in general outline, curatorial selection and artistic sensibility. Through their similarities and differences the two shows together offer a fascinating opportunity to grasp what was at stake in artistic practice and its public display at the end of the 1960s.


  • For more information on Harald Szeemann and his work, see Nathalie Heinich, Harald Szeemann, un cas singulier: Entretien, Paris: L’Échoppe, 1995; Søren Grammel, Ausstellungsautorschaft; Die Konstruktion der auktorialen Position des Kurators bei Harald Szeemann. Eine Mikroanalyse, Frankfurt a.M.: Revolver, 2005; Hans-Joachim Müller, Harald Szeemann: Ausstellungsmacher/Exhibition Maker, Ostfildern-Ruit: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2006; Florence Derieux (ed.), Harald Szeemann: Individual Methodology, Zürich and Grenoble: JRP | Ringier Kunstverlag and Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain, 2007; Tobia Bezzola and Roman Kurzmeyer (ed.), Harald Szeemann with by through because towards despite: Catalogue of All Exhibitions 1957–2005, Zürich, Vienna and New York: Edition Voldemeer and Springer Wien, 2007; and Hans Ulrich Obrist, A Brief History of Curating, Zürich: JRP | Ringier Kunstverlag, 2008, pp.80–102, as well as two collections of essays and personal contemplations by Szeemann himself: Individuelle Mythologien, Berlin: Merve, 1985, and Museum der Obsessionen von/u ̈ ber/zu/mit Harald Szeemann, Berlin: Merve, 1981. See also Nathalie Heinich and Michael Pollak, ‘From Museum Curator to Exhibition Auteur: Inventing a Singular Position’, in Reesa Greenberg, Bruce Ferguson and Sandy Nairne (ed.), Thinking About Exhibitions, London and New York: Routledge, 1996, pp.231–50.
  • Chronological documentation of all of Szeemann’s exhibitions is published in T. Bezzola and R. Kurzmeyer (ed.), Harald Szeemann with by through because towards despite , op. cit.; and F. Derieux (ed.), Harald Szeemann: Individual Methodology, op. cit.
  • The exhibition closed a few days early, on 23 April 1969.
  • H. Szeemann, Individuelle Mythologien, op. cit. and Museum der Obsessionen von/ u ̈ber/zu/mit Harald Szeemann, op. cit.
  • See Steven ten Thije, ‘“Op Losse Schroeven” and “When Attitudes Become Form”: Public Reception in the Netherlands and Switzerland’, in this volume, pp.212–19.
  • ‘Primary Structures: Younger American and British Sculpture’, Jewish Museum, New York, 27 April–12 June 1966, organised by Kynaston McShine.
  • ‘Eccentric Abstraction’, Fischbach Gallery, New York, 20 September–8 October 1966, organised by Lucy Lippard.
  • ‘Arte Povera’, Galleria La Bertesca, Genoa, September–October 1967, organised by Germano Celant; ‘Arte Povera + Azioni Povere’, Amalfi, 4–6 October 1968, organised by Germano Celant at the request of collector Marcello Rumma.
  • ‘January 5–31, 1969’, The McLendon Building, New York and ‘March 1969’, an exhibition existing only in publication form, both organised by Seth Siegelaub. Other key exhibitions prior to ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ include ‘Prospect 68’ at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, 1968, and ‘Nine at Leo Castelli’ at the Leo Castelli Warehouse, New York, 1968.
  • In his catalogue essay, Szeemann gives a list of all the different proposed terminologies for the new art, including ‘Anti-Form, Microemotive art, Possible art, Impossible art, Concept art, Arte Povera, Earth art – each describe only one aspect of the style…’ H. Szeemann, ‘Zur Ausstellung’, When Attitudes Become Form (exh. cat.), Bern: Kunsthalle Bern, 1969, n.p. English translation, under the title ‘About the Exhibition’, in this volume, p.192.
  • A common Dutch expression indicating that something is loose or unstable, ‘op losse schroeven’ could be translated literally as ‘on loose screws’. In the introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition, Edy de Wilde, then Director of the Stedeljk Museum, suggested ‘square pegs in round holes’ as a translation and this is sometimes used in the literature referencing the exhibition, although not frequently. The exhibition title is further discussed below.
  • The catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ also listed a contemporaneous solo exhibition by Michelangelo Pistoletto in Rotterdam. See Op Losse Schroeven (exh. cat.), Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1969, title page.
  • The artists whose work was in both exhibitions are Carl Andre, Giovanni Anselmo, Joseph Beuys, Marinus Boezem, Bill Bollinger, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jan Dibbets, Ger van Elk, Rafael Ferrer, Barry Flanagan, Michael Heizer, Douglas Huebler, Paolo Icaro, Neil Jenney, Jannis Kounellis, Richard Long, Walter De Maria, Mario Merz, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Panamarenko, Emilio Prini, Reiner Ruthenbeck, Robert Ryman, Alan Saret, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Keith Sonnier, Frank Lincoln Viner, Lawrence Weiner and Gilberto Zorio. Artists whose work was only in ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ are Richard Artschwager, Thomas Bang, Robert Barry, Mel Bochner, Alighiero e Boetti, Michael Buthe, Paul Cotton, Hanne Darboven, Eva Hesse, Alain Jacquet, Stephen Kaltenbach, Edward Kienholz, Yves Klein, Joseph Kosuth, Gary Kuehn, Sol LeWitt, Claes Oldenburg, Pino Pascali, Markus Raetz, Allen Ruppersberg, Fred Sandback, Sarkis, Jean-Frédéric Schnyder, Richard Tuttle, Franz Erhard Walther and William T. Wiley – although Barry, Buthe and Kosuth also contributed to the ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ catalogue. Several artists were represented only by ‘Information’ in ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, in some instances in vitrines in the galleries, otherwise simply in the catalogue. These were Jared Bark, Ted Glass, Hans Haacke, Paolo Icaro, Jo Ann Kaplan, Bernd Lohaus, Roelof Louw, Bruce McLean, David Medalla, Denis Oppenheim, Paul Pechter, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gianni-Emilio Simonetti and William Wegman – with Louw and McLean also contributing to the ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ catalogue. The artists whose work was only included in ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ are Olle Kåks and Marisa Merz. When ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ toured to London, works by Victor Burgin were added.
  • See, for example, Jürgen Morschel, ‘Land Art in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam und in der Kunsthalle Bern’, Deutschlandfunk–Feuilleton (Radio), March 1969, transcript in the Szeemann archive, Maggia, Switzerland; Cor Blok, ‘Letter from Holland’, Art International, vol.13, no.5, 20 May 1969, pp.51–53; and Tommaso Trini, ‘The Prodigal Maker’s Trilogy. Three Exhibitions: Bern, Amsterdam, Rotterdam’, Domus, vol.478, no.9, September 1969, pp.45–53, reprinted in this volume, pp.202–10
  • See Szeemann, ‘Reisebericht von den Vorbereitungen und nur von diesen für die Ausstellung “When attitudes become form (works, concepts, processes, situations, information)”’, in Op Losse Schroeven, op. cit. This version of the diary, as the title indicates, only covers the preparation for the exhibition (until 20 February 1969). A longer version, with entries until 13 June, was published as ‘Wie Entsteht eine Ausstellung?’ in Jean-Christophe Ammann and Harald Szeemann, Von Hodler zur Antiform: Geschichte der Kunsthalle Bern, Bern: Benteli Verlag, 1970, pp.142–62. An English version, based on a translation by Gerard Goodrow, is published in this volume under the title ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, pp.174–91. It should be noted that some dates in the original text in the catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ appear incorrectly. Entries that occurred in December 1968 are dated January 1968, and in a letter in the Stedelijk Museum archive Szeemann identifies the mistake. Subsequent published versions of the diary are correct.
  • See Hans Ulrich Obrist, Delta X: Der Kurator als Katalysator, Regensburg: Lindinger + Schmid, 1996.
  • See, for instance, the interviews with Piero Gilardi, Marinus Boezem and Ger van Elk in this volume, pp.235, 243–44 and 255. For contrast see the interview with Richard Serra in this volume, p.264.
  • Kaiden was a pioneer in encouraging corporations to support contemporary art. See Nina Kaiden, ‘The New Collectors’, in Nina Kaiden and Bardett Hayes (ed.), Artist and Advocate: An Essay on Corporate Patronage, New York: Renaissance Editions, 1967, pp.5–20. For a full account of the sponsorship of Szeemann’s exhibition, see Claudia Di Lecce, ‘Avant-Garde Marketing: “When Attitudes Become Form” and Philip Morris’s Sponsorship’, in this volume, pp.220–29. Ruder & Finn’s name later changed to Ruder Finn.
  • Rolf Eichenberger quoted in T. Bezzola and R. Kurzmeyer (ed.), Harald Szeemann with by through because towards despite, op. cit, p.212.
  • ‘12 Environments: 50 Years Kunsthalle Bern’, 20 July–29 September 1968.
  • ‘They would like me to organise an international exhibition for which Philip Morris would provide me with $15,000 for the preparation and $10,000 for the catalogue’. H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.274.
  • ‘They would like me to organise an international exhibition for which Philip Morris would provide me with $15,000 for the preparation and $10,000 for the catalogue’. H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.274.
  • Szeemann presented the exhibition ‘Junge Kunst aus Holland’ (‘Recent Art from Holland’) 2 November–1 December 1968 at the Kunsthalle Bern. Edy de Wilde presented the exhibition ‘22 jonge Zwitsers’ (‘22 Young Swiss Artists’) 28 March–5 May 1969 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (almost exactly simultaneously to ‘Op Losse Schroeven’). This show then travelled back to Bern as ‘22 junge Schweizer’, 7 June–6 July 1969.
  • Szeemann was thinking of artists such as Robert Irwin, Doug Wheeler, Larry Bell and James Turrell. See H.U. Obrist, ‘Mind Over Matter: Hans Ulrich Obrist talks with Harald Szeemann’, op. cit., p.111.
  • Ibid .
  • Ibid . A similar account can be found in Szeemann’s diary, see H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.173.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.173. Szeemann exhibited the turf and neon tables in Bern before ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, as he included them in ‘Recent Art from Holland’.
  • Dibbets and Long studied at St Martin’s School of Art. Van Elk introduced Piero Gilardi’s ‘Microemotive Art’, published in Stedelijk Museumsjournaal, vol.13, no.4, 1968, p.198.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, pp.173–74. Szeemann is referring to the exhibition ‘Towards a Cold Poetic Image’, Galleria Schwarz, Milan, 13 June – 30 September 1967, which included works by Shusaku Arakawa and Öyvind Fahlström among others.
  • Ibid ., p.174.
  • See Carel Blotkamp, ‘1969’, in Suzanna Héman, Jurrie Poot and Hripsemé Visser (ed.), Conceptual Art in the Netherlands and Belgium 1965 1975: Artists, Collectors, Galleries, Documents, Exhibitions, Events (exh. cat.), Amsterdam and Rotterdam: Stedelijk Museum, NAi publishers, 2002, pp.16–27.
  • The postponed exhibition was Yaacov Agam’s. See H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.174.
  • Bart De Baere and Selma Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, Kunst & Museumsjournaal, vol.6, no.6, 1995, p.42.
  • Ibid., p.41. The exhibition ‘Dies alles Herzchen wird einmal dir gehören’ (‘All This Will One Day Be Yours, Sweetheart’) was a one-day event organised by Paul Maenz on 9 September 1967 at the country house of Galerie Loehr outside of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The event lasted from 7.45 pm to 9.55 pm, and included Dibbets, Barry Flanagan, Bernhard Höke, John Johnson, Richard Long, Konrad (Fischer) Lueg, Charlotte Posenenske and Peter Roehr. Dibbets contributed a heap of white sand poured into the courtyard of the exhibition site, and during the few hours of the event the sand became displaced and scattered by the visitors, until, by the end of the evening, it had all but disappeared. See Suzaan Boettger, ‘The Lost Contingent: Paul Maenz’s Prophetic 1967 Event and the Ambiguities of Historical Priority’, Art Journal, vol.62, no.1, Spring 2003, pp.35–47.
  • Galerie Mickery was in fact an experimental theatre, at that time housed in a barn, run by Ritsaert Ten Cate.
  • See Ger van Elk’s introduction to P. Gilardi, ‘Microemotive Art’, op. cit., p.198.
  • For a more detailed account of Beeren’s preparation of the exhibition, see Steven ten Thije,‘Tracing“Op Losse Schroeven (Situations and Cryptostructures)”’, in this volume, pp.106–14.
  • Wim Beeren, ‘De Tentoonstelling’, in Op Losse Schroeven, op. cit., n.p. Reprinted in this volume as ‘The Exhibition’ (trans. Charles Esche and Steven ten Thije), p.122.
  • Ibid., p.119.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.43.
  • As suggested by a note in the Stedelijk Museum archive dated 30 December 1968.
  • Both exhibition catalogues include reading lists that overlap with each other. Reproduced in this volume, pp.127 and 201.
  • Ger van Elk, conversation with the author, 24 September 2009.
  • Sophie Richard, ‘Conversation with Harald Szeemann, Maggia, 22 July 2003’, Unconcealed: the International Network of Conceptual Artists 1967–77. Dealers, Exhibitions and Public Collections (ed. Lynda Morris), London: Ridinghouse, 2009, p.474.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.43.
  • An initial resistance has also been suggested by artists Marinus Boezem and Ger van Elk. See interviews in this volume, pp.242 and 257–58.
  • Gijs van Tuyl, conversation with Teresa Gleadowe, 26 April 2009.
  • Ank Marcar, conversation with Steve ten Thije, 26 August 2009.
  • Szeemann himself noted this on several occasions, including in a conversation with the author in 1998. See H. Szeemann, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, in Bernd Klüser and Katharina Hegewisch (ed.), Die Kunst der Ausstellung. Eine Dokumentation dreißig exemplarischer Kunstausstellungen dieses Jahrhunderts, Frankfurt a.M.: Insel Verlag, 1991, p.217. Alison Green, in her essay ‘When Attitudes Become Form and the Contest over Conceptual Art’s History’ makes a similar case, especially in footnote 34. See Alison Green, ‘When Attitudes Become Form and the Contest over Conceptual Art’s History’, in Michael Corris (ed.), Conceptual Art: Theory, Myth, and Practice, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p.141.
  • C. Blotkamp, ‘1969’, op. cit., p.23.
  • Inside a gallery in the Stedelijk Museum, Boezem placed weather maps prepared daily using information from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (Weerbericht, or Weather Report, 1969). The weather maps were further represented on the cover of the exhibition catalogue, reproduced in this volume, p.117.
  • As Beeren said, Prini ‘had the terrain where the Van Gogh Museum now stands completely filled with tents. He’d made a sort of internet system there before it was actually invented.’ B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.45.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.45
  • The floor plans included in the exhibition catalogue sometimes diverge from the photographic documentation in the Stedelijk Museum archive. For example, rooms number 7 and 10 are exchanged. Certainly, this can easily be explained through the production deadlines of the catalogue, but it also indicates that Beeren was not afraid to make these changes despite his clearly developed plans for installation.
  • Installation views of ‘Atelier VI’ are printed in the catalogue for ‘Op Losse Schroeven’, giving an impression of the exhibition venue. See Op Losse Schroeven, op. cit.
  • C. Blotkamp, ‘1969’, op. cit., p.23.
  • Headlines such as ‘Sabotage in the Temple of Art’ (Tages-Anzeiger, 14 April 1969) and ‘Asphalt Damaged in the Name of Art’ (Der Schweizer Bauer, 9 April 1969) reflect the opinion of the regional and daily papers. For a study of the reception of the exhibition by the Swiss press, see Steven ten Thije, ‘“Op Losse Schroeven” and “When Attitudes Become Form”: Public Reception in the Netherlands and Switzerland’, in this volume, pp.212–19.
  • The newspapers were: Berner Tagwacht, 8/9 March 1969 (which featured two adverts, ‘A: Abstrakter Raum’ and ‘D: Existenz im Raum’); Sonntags-Illustrierte der Neuen Berner Zeitung, 8/9 March 1969 (‘B: Spezifischer Raum’); and Der Bund, 9 March 1969 (‘C: Relativer Raum’). See Jean-Christophe Ammann (ed.), Joseph Kosuth: Investigationen u ̈ber Kunst & ‘Problemkreise’ seit 1965 , Lucerne: Kunstmuseum Luzern, 1973, vol.2, pp.36–40.
  • Joseph Kosuth, artist’s statement, When Attitudes Become Form (exh. cat.), op. cit., n.p. The statement was also published in Seth Siegelaub, January 5–31, 1969, New York, 1969; and reprinted in Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972, New York: Praeger, 1973, pp.72–73.
  • See H. Szeemann, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, in B. Klüser and K. Hegewisch (ed.), Die Kunst der Ausstellung, op. cit, p.213. See also vol.3 of Daniel Buren’s catalogue raisonné, where the work is listed as no.77, Affichages sauvages (T III-77, – last accessed on 24 June 2010).
  • As already mentioned, Meyer was Szeemann’s predecessor at the Kunsthalle Bern (from 1955 to 1961). He was the director of the Kunstmuseum Basel from 1962 to 1981.
  • Franz Meyer, ‘Wenn Attitüden Form werden’, in Uwe M. Schneede and Monika Wagner (ed.), Im Blickfeld: Jahrbuch der Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg: Christians, 1996, p.11. Translation the author’s.
  • Ibid., p.10.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.180. Szeemann is referring to Belts (1966–67).
  • See Walter Kambartel, Robert Morris: Felt Piece, Stuttgart: Reclam, 1971. Jean Leering spoke about this on the occasion of simultaneous exhibitions of Minimal art from the US and Joseph Beuys at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in 1968; and Jean-Christophe Ammann compared both in his review of documenta 4 (1968), originally published in Werk-Chronik, vol.8, 1968, p.566. See also Dirk Luckow, Joseph Beuys und die Amerikanische Anti Form-Kunst, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1998.
  • See Robert Morris, ‘Anti-Form’, Artforum, vol.6, no.8, April 1968, pp.33–35. Reprinted in Robert Morris, Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris, Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1994, p.46.
  • Marlène Bélilos (journalist and producer) and André Gazut (director), Quand les les attitudes deviennent formes, Geneva: Télévision Suisse Romande, broadcast 6 April 1969.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘When Attitudes Become Form’, in B. Klüser and K. Hegewisch (ed.), Die Kunst der Ausstellung, op. cit., p.217. Translation the author’s.
  • For a discussion of the DDP, see Robert Lumley, ‘Arte Povera in Turin: The Intriguing Case of the Deposito D’Arte Presente’, in Robert Lumley and Francesco Manacorda (ed.), Marcello Levi: Portrait of a Collector, Turin: Hopefulmonster, 2005, p.201.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.45.
  • Ibid .
  • Ibid., p.46.
  • Ibid ., p.45.
  • Ibid., p.46.
  • Ibid., p.45.
  • Max Kozloff, ‘9 in a Warehouse’, Artforum, vol.7, no.6, February 1969, p.38. Quoted in Irene Calderoni, ‘Creating Shows: Some Notes on Exhibition Aesthetics at the End of the Sixties’, in Paul O’Neill (ed.), Curating Subjects, London: Open Editions, 2007, p.73.
  • R. Morris, ‘Anti-Form’, op. cit. The General Bibliography for ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ is reproduced in this volume, p.201.
  • R. Morris, ‘Anti-Form’, op. cit., p.35.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.178.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘About the Exhibition’, in this volume, p.192.
  • Piero Gilardi, ‘Primary Energy and the “Microemotive Artists”’, Arts Magazine, vol.43, September/October, 1968, pp.48–52. The Dutch text was introduced in Museumjournaal by Ger van Elk, see P. Gilardi, ‘Microemotive Art’, op. cit. The same text was published in Italian much later in an anthology edited by Germano Celant, Arte Povera/Art Povera: Storie e protagonisti/Histories and Protagonists, Milan: Electa, 1985.
  • P. Gilardi, ‘Primary Energy and the “Microemotive Artists”’, op. cit., p.48.
  • Ibid ., p.51.
  • As already mentioned, Gilardi’s work was known in the Netherlands through an exhibition of his foam sculptures at Mickery Gallery in Loenersloot (8 October–6 November 1967).
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.176.
  • Ibid .
  • Piero Gilardi, letter to Wim Beeren, 1 December 1968, Stedelijk Museum archive.
  • Ibid . Translation (from French) the author’s.
  • P. Gilardi, ‘Witness Room’ document, Stedelijk Museum archive.
  • P. Gilardi, letter to Wim Beeren, 22 February 1969, Stedelijk Museum archive.
  • W. Beeren, ‘The Exhibition’, in this volume, p.125.
  • P. Gilardi, ‘Politics and the Avant-Garde’, in Op Losse Schroeven, op. cit., n.p.
  • Ibid
  • Piero Gilardi (Intervista)’ (October 1972), in Mirella Bandini (ed.), Piero Gilardi: Dall’Arte Alla Vita, Dalla Vita All’Arte, Paris: Prints Etc., 1982, p.48.
  • P. Gilardi, letter to Wim Beeren, 27 March 1969, Stedelijk Museum archive.
  • Ibid.
  • Piero Gilardi, conversation with Francesco Manacorda, in this volume, p.235. 98 The letter addressed to Marinus Boezem has been preserved.
  • The letter addressed to Marinus Boezem has been preserved.
  • Piero Gilardi, ‘Offener Brief’, in Edna van Duyn and Fransjozef Wittneven (ed.), Boezem, Bussum: Thoth Publishers, 1999, p.539. Translation the author’s.
  • S. Richard, ‘Conversation with Harald Szeemann, Maggia, 22 July 2003’, Unconcealed, op. cit.
  • Most of the Dutch reviews riff on the title and often make a reference to its meaning, sometimes praising its strange poetry. For instance, Carel Blotkamp, writing for Vrij Nederland, 12 April 1969, considers the exhibition title a ‘toepasselijke naam’ (‘fitting name’), even though the ‘dilemma’ mentioned in the article’s title (‘Het Dilemma van de Losse Schroeven’) might suggest a more conflicted meaning.
  • E. de Wilde in Op Losse Schroeven, op. cit.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.181.
  • W. Beeren, ‘The Exhibition’, in this volume, p.118.
  • Wim Crouwel designed most Stedelijk communication materials during the 1960s and went on to become one of the most important Dutch designers and curators, and later Director of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.
  • Ben d’Armagnac, Robert Barry, Michael Buthe, Gerrit Dekker, Pieter Engels, Bernhard Höke, Hetty Huisman, Immo Jalass, Hans Koetsier, Joseph Kosuth, Roelof Louw, Bruce McLean and Gianni-Emilio Simonetti.
  • ‘Dylaby: Dynamisch Labyrint’, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 30 August–30 September 1962, curated by Willem Sandberg with Ad Petersen. The exhibition included environments by Robert Rauschenberg, Martial Raysse, Niki de Saint Phalle, Daniel Spoerri, Jean Tinguely and Per Olof Ultvedt.
  • W. Beeren, ‘The Exhibition’, in this volume, pp.122–23.
  • Ibid. , p.122.
  • Ibid .
  • See Rosalind E. Krauss, Passages in Modern Sculpture, Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1977.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘How Does an Exhibition Come into Being?’, in this volume, p.187.
  • H. Szeemann, ‘About the Exhibition’, in this volume, p.193.
  • Ibid., pp.192–93.
  • Joseph Beuys, Hans Haacke, Edward Kienholz, Walter De Maria, Robert Morris and Claes Oldenburg are dedicated two sheets each.
  • See Steven ten Thije, ‘“Op Losse Schroeven” and “When Attitudes Become Form”: Public Reception in the Netherlands and Switzerland’, in this volume, pp.212–19.
  • Cor Blok, ‘Letter from Holland’, Art International, vol.13, no.5, May 1969, p.53.
  • Ibid .
  • Tommaso Trini, ‘The Prodigal Maker’s Trilogy. Three Exhibitions: Bern, Amsterdam, Rotterdam’, Domus, vol.478, no.9, September 1969, p.45. Reproduced in this volume, p.202.
  • Ju ̈ rgen Morschel, ‘Abkehr von Technik und Warenhauswelt’, Frankfurter Rundschau, 6 April 1969. Translation the author’s.
  • Laszlo Glozer, ‘Arm, amorph, anarchistisch’, Su ̈ddeutsche Zeitung , 11 April 1969. Translation the author’s.
  • Hans Strelow, ‘Regungen einer neuen Romantik’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10 April 1969; and Georg Jappe, ‘Die neue Geste’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 16 April 1969. Translation the author’s.
  • ‘Op Losse Schroeven’ toured to Museum Folkwang, Essen, under the title ‘Verborgene Strukturen’ (‘Hidden Structures’), 9 May–22 June 1969; ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ toured to Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, 10 May – 15 June 1969.
  • Ulrich Seelmann-Eggebrecht, ‘Rosemary’s Baby auch in der Kunst’, Saarbruecker Landzeitung, 19 May 1969.
  • ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ was on view at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 28 August–27 September 1969. For discussion of the London presentation see Charles Harrison, ‘Interview with Teresa Gleadowe and Pablo Lafuente, October 2008’, Looking Back: Charles Harrison, London: Ridinghouse, 2010, pp.93–150.
  • John Russell, ‘Striking Attitudes’, The Sunday Times, 31 August 1969.
  • L. Lippard, Six Years, op. cit., pp.80–81.
  • See, for example, R. Greenberg, B. Ferguson and S. Nairne (ed.), Thinking about Exhibitions, op. cit.; Bruce Altshuler, The Avant-Garde in Exhibition: New Art in the 20th Century, New York: Abrams, 1994; B. Klu ̈ ser and K. Hegewisch, Die Kunst der Ausstellung, op. cit.; Thomas Crow, The Rise of the Sixties, New York: Abrams, 1996; or Ann Goldstein and Anne Rorimer (ed.), Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965–1975 (exh. cat.), Los Angeles, Cambridge, MA and London: Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and The MIT Press, 1995.
  • Wim Beeren, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: Pro Memoria. An Exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, 15.3.–27.4.1969’, in Ad Petersen, Maja Bloem and Karel Schampers (ed.), ’60’80: Attitudes, Concepts, Images (exh. cat.), Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1982, pp.51–55. This exhibition, like ‘When Attitudes Become Form’ over a decade earlier, was sponsored by Philip Morris.
  • Ibid ., p.51.
  • Ibid .
  • Ibid.
  • Ibid., p.52.
  • Ibid ., p.54.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.46.
  • It dates back to the 1940s and has historically focused on presenting sculpture en plein air.
  • C. Blotkamp, ‘1969’, op. cit., p.21.
  • B. De Baere and S. Klein Essink, ‘Op Losse Schroeven: An Interview with Wim Beeren’, op. cit., p.47.
  • For an overview of Beeren’s career, see Wim Beeren, Wim Beeren – om de Kunst (ed. Jan van Adrichem, et al.), Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2005.
  • Aaron Schuster, ‘Visionary Belgium’, frieze, no.91, May 2005, p.81.