A Word with Klaus Biesenbach

Posted filed underContemporary Art, Criticism, Curators.


“Art is not the art market. Art history is not the history of the art market. Art is about ideas and civilization, and yet too often it’s marginalized by the market in America.”

Words from Klaus Biesenbach, the Museum of Modern Art curator, who’s cultivated his own celebrity status, on why art should be disruptive and deeply inspiring, and need not hang preciously on the walls.

From The Wall Street Journal: ““I’m from a village where the church comes from the 11th century. As a child, I’d imagine what it must have felt like, a few hundred years earlier, coming to Cologne to see this dome and these stained-glass windows even as everyone for miles around lived in earthen huts. You come into this cathedral and are hit with organ music, incense, colored light and a skyscraper-tall building—let’s call it architecture or art—but the rest of your existence is lived in a mud shack. Wow. It’s an inspiration. Then years later, civilization built museums so we could go there and find that inspiration.

Today, the thing that inspires artists, and us, are all the images that surround us. So what are those images? It might not be Cologne Cathedral as much anymore because we have lots of skyscrapers, and it might not be paintings because we have YouTube on our phones. So museums have to embrace contemporary practice as something as wide-spanning as a German band like Kraftwerk—along with visual performance, music, synesthesia, and fashion, and all these possible articulations of boundless creativity whenever they reach a certain innovative excellence. Museums have to realize that the influential images that might change our lives are not necessarily paintings, drawings, and sculptures.”

Read the whole story about Klaus Biesenbach at The Wall Street Journal.