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Art Historian and Curator, Peter Selz, dies at the age of 100

One of the most enterprising members who also help shape the Berkeley Art Museum in California as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Peter Selz, has died at the age of 100. This was announced by the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives. Peter had helped shape both the Museums in California and New York respectively in the middle of 20th century.

Also, Peter Selz is believed to have played a big role in writing various artists into history in the postwar art era and he has curated various milestones in that time too. 1959 is believed to be Peter’s most exhibition when he was a curator of painting and sculpture at MoMA. The show was named as “New Images of Man” and it was a survey of how humans were being represented by artists from mid-century America and Europe.

In that era, New York was believed to be the center of art world but this show by Peter started with works that were towards figuration at the time when Abstract Expressionism was less. Also, this show featured artists that were not based in New York which was against Western critics’ belief at that time.

In a press release by Peter after the show, he said that the “revelations and complexities of mid-20th-century life have called forth a profound feeling of solitude and anxiety,” He also added that “imagery of man which has evolved from this reveals sometimes a new dignity, sometimes despair, but always the uniqueness of man as he confronts his fate.”

At MoMA, Peter Selz worked for 6 years from 1958 to 1964. In that time period, Selz had organized Auguste Rodin’s first U.S. retrospective as well as a major survey of Futurist art.

Peter Selz’s greatest achievement at MoMA is believed to be the commissioning of Jean Tinguely’s Homage to New York (1960) which was a sculpture that destroys itself.