"Magiciens de la Terre" and Multiple Histories of Curating Global Art in Paris



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Curator Jean-Hubert Martin’s 1989 exhibition "Magiciens de la terre" is considered the first exhibition of global contemporary art, displaying recent works by 50 Western and 50 Nonwestern artists. Most of the scholarship concerning "Magiciens" focuses on its legacy, including critiques of the exhibition model in addition to the show serving as a springboard for subsequent exhibitions of global contemporary art. My thesis analyzes the exhibition within a larger history of French display of nonwestern and western objects and artworks in Paris. By placing "Magiciens" within this history, this thesis project examines how this exhibition which opened during the bicentennial celebrations of the French Revolution in Paris reified Paris’ claims of being an international center of art and culture in addition to positing Martin as “curator-as-artist.”



Magiciens de la terre, Centre Pompidou, La Grande Halle de la Villette, Exhibition histories, Jean-Hubert Martin