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Seth Siegelaub: When, What, How


Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como October 7, 2023 -- January 7, 2024


Triennale, Milano  October 5, 2023 – January 7, 2024




In 2022 the Fondazione Antonio Ratti (FAR) in Como acquired the  textile book collection of Seth Siegelaub, published in the Bibliographica Textilia Historiæ. Towards a General Bibliography on the History of Textiles Based on the Library and Archives of the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles. 


The Stichting Egress Foundation, which oversees his estate, generously donated Siegelaub's collection of historical textiles. This set in motion the  plan to curate an extensive exhibition that encompasses Siegelaub's diverse activities. From the inception of his gallery in New York in the 1960s  to his endeavors in collecting, publishing, and lecturing in Amsterdam, Seth Siegelaub emerged as an important figure, revered by curators, artists, and scholars alike. His  involvement in conceptual art ( especially his involvement with Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner), coexisted with his, political activism, and insightful commentary on artistic production as well as practical and theoretical engagement with textiles of which he consistently recognized the social significance as well as the beauty.


During the FAR Collecting Textiles symposium in 2012, Seth Siegelaub articulated his desire to find a suitable institution to safeguard his extensive textile and book collection , the result of more than five decades of passionate research.


Fulfilling this aspiration, Fondazione Antonio Ratti committed itself to acquiring Siegelaub's collection, consisting of over 9,000 volumes. This invaluable addition expanded the Foundation's library, augmenting its completeness and accuracy. It also fostered a profound connection between FAR's textile collection and Siegelaub's, uniting two collectors which, despite their differences, shared a common cultural vision. The amalgamation of these collections signifies a distinctive bibliographic and textile heritage that FAR is dedicated to safeguarding and promoting.


Siegelaub's textile collection, encompassing 723 items, includes ritual objects, headpieces, costumes, carpets, and fabrics from around the globe. These artifacts were collected to explore the social, political, and religious functions of textiles within European and non-European cultures. The mosaic of Tapa, Suzani, Coptic, European velvets, Turkish embroideries, and artifacts from the South Seas reflects a wide array of cultural manifestations, intricately linked to their specific contexts of production. He ardently sought to highlight the manifold social and economic implications associated with this medium.


Additionally, the book bequest encompasses also collections dedicated to Marxist political theory, economic and industrial history (a significant portion of which was donated to the International Institute for Social History at the University of Amsterdam), quantum physics, anthropology, philosophy, arts, and crafts.


In the exhibition a special room will be dedicated to The Artist's Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale agreement, 1971, a project initiated by Siegelaub and lawyer Robert Projansky entailing the organization, preparation and publication of a sale contract for artists that would outline and protect the artist’s moral and economic rights. The contract includes a provision that entitles the artist to 15 percent of any profits made on the resale of his or her work. This part of the exhibition is curated by Lauren van Haaften-Schick.




In Como several works of younger artist will be shown, a result of Siegelaub's ongoing interest in contemporary art: Sam Hersbach, Rini Hurkmans, Matthieu Laurette, Izhar Patkin, Hans Scholten, Berend Strik, Remco Torenbosch.




The exhition is curated by Marja Bloem, Director of the Egress Foundation, Lorenzo Benedetti, free lance curator and Maddalena Terragni, curator at the Fondazione Ratti.











Gratefully supported by mondriaan fonds and stroom den haag