Seth Siegelaub

Updated
22 Apr 2021

Seth Siegelaub (1941–2013) was a curator, author, and researcher who played a vital role in the emergence of Conceptual art in the late 1960s, organizing experimental outdoor shows and innovating exhibitions in the form of publications. To distribute his catalogues and other artists’ publications, he founded International General in New York in 1970. The following year, he and lawyer Robert Projansky produced the influential artist’s contract “The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement.” In 1972, Siegelaub began publishing books on mass media and communications, including How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic (1976) by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart. In the 1980s, Siegelaub began collecting and researching hand-woven textiles and founded the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles. Later, he published Bibliographica Textilia Historiae, an authoritative bibliography on the history of textiles. In 2000, he established the Stichting Egress Foundation in Amsterdam to bring together his abiding concern for art and textiles with a new interest in time and causality. In 2009, Siegelaub and lawyer-curator Daniel McClean set up the Egress Art Law Resource Center, which focuses on critical legal issues around contemporary art. In 2015, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam presented the first exhibition around Siegelaub’s life and work, Seth Siegelaub: Beyond Conceptual Art. The Seth Siegelaub Papers are housed at the Museum of Modern Art Archives, and his library of 3,000 titles on media is owned by the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam. A volume of collected texts, Seth Siegelaub: “Better Read Than Dead,” Writings and Interviews, 1964–2013, is forthcoming from the Stichting Egress Foundation and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne.

Siegelaub's conversation with Theresa Gleadowe about his shows at Bradford and Wyndham Colleges (1968); The Xerox Book (1968); and the January, March and July, August, September shows (1969) is included in Site Read: Seven Curators on Their Landmark Exhibitions, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's anthology of essays from exhibition makers who illuminate the site-based innovations in now-iconic exhibitions they organized.