15 May 2008

Olivier Debroise 1952 - 2008

Art critic, curator, writer and film maker.

I first knew about him when I read his book Diego de Montparnasse. I was probably 15 when I read it and in a surprising way had a big impact on me. It translated vividly the years of Diego Rivera in Paris and I saw the man and the period that he lived. He was not any more only an 'art figure' but a person who made mistakes too. The book always stayed in my mind.
Years later he founded Curare and in a way he was an important part of a new art atmosphere in Mexico City.
Here fragments of a text by the mexican author and critic Cuauhtemoc Medina published at e-flux:

Olivier Debroise 1952 - 2008
by Cuauhtémoc Medina

"Some lives can't fit in a single lifetime; they challenge our expectations about how many stories could possibly be provoked, contained, told and thought by a single individual. Olivier Debroise was one of the most ferocious art critics and curators in Mexico, a homosexual novelist who explored the intersections of history, violence and desire, and a cultural agent who was equally devastating in destroying myths and sustaining institutional transformations; and this is only the beginning. His death has created a massive commotion, because Debroise did not merely treat culture as his profession. He was a potent force within a multitude of critical circles that extend across disciplines, iconographic camps, academic circuits, and creative trajectories, and his loss has permanent ramifications for all those that he touched."

"- A heterodox historian who beginning in the late 1970s bombarded the official narrative of Mexican modernism, exploring the cubist structure underlying Diego Rivera's work (Diego de Montparnasse, 1979), chronicling the marginal artistic circuits of the 1920s and '30s (Figuras en el trópico, 1982), dissecting the cadaver of the "mass individual" in Siqueiros's painting (Portrait of a Decade, 1997), and articulating a polemical geneaology of contemporary art (Age of Discrepancies, 2007).

- The inventor of the notion of the curator as a leftist cultural politician, a critical virus of globalization, and an agent of continuous intellectual effervescence. The founder and ideologue of Curare (1991-1997), the Camara Nacional de Industrias Artísticas (National Chamber of Art Industries, CANAIA) (2001-2004), Teratoma (2000-2008), and more recently, the curator responsible for reactivating the neglected task of forming public collections of contemporary art in Mexico through his work at the MUAC (University Contemporary Art Museum) of the UNAM (National Autonomous University)..."

Translated by Jennifer Josten. Photo by Alejandro Navarrete to read the whole text e-flux.

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