December 2015. The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is an international museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design. On Christmas Eve, staying at de Hallen apartments in Oud West, with the tram stop a few metres away, I went to see the Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art exhibition, as well as the permanent gallery and the smaller items.
Seth Siegelaub is sometimes described as the father of conceptual art – he was certainly the first western art dealer to promote and deal in conceptual work. The show at the Stedelijk appears to be an update of one at MoMA (New York) in 2013. There were many lists, many books, some costumes, textiles and some ‘ethnic’ hats and headgear in a large display. Siegelaub was a collector of hand-woven textiles and wrote an authoritative work on the history of textiles.
He redirected his activities into publishing, including the bestseller, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (1976) by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart.
The Xerox Book, “one of the most revered artists’ publications ever – was published in New York in 1968 by dealers Seth Siegelaub and John W. Wendler. The book was conceived by Siegelaub as an exhibition in print.”
This was a large exhibition and sometimes difficult to get to grips with. The museum did not have an English text of the show, they had sold out in the first week and were waiting for more copies. Nor did they have an illustrated catalogue of the permanent collection, at least not for less than 50E.
I spent some time in the permanent collection, there were some wonderful pictures including more of the CoBrA artists Karel Appel and Constant.
The most moving picture for me was a painting by Marc Chagall, however this is not on the web site and I cannot positively identify it in my own books.
The Stedelijk is a fantastic museum in an amazing building, it was a shame that they did not have more publications in English, and surprising as so many of their visitors and English speakers. A small selection of work is available on the museum website.