Igor Zabel was during his entire life actively involved in many fields of theory and culture – as an art historian, modern and contemporary art curator, writer, literary and art critic, columnist and essayist, translator, and mentor for new generations of curators and critics of contemporary art.

Igor Zabel graduated in comparative literature, art history and philosophy from the University of Ljubljana in 1982. After graduation he worked for two years as assistant lecturer at the Department for Comparative Literature of the Faculty of Arts. In 1989, he received his MA from the same university. Between 1984 and 1986, he worked as a freelance writer. Starting in 1986, Igor Zabel worked as curator at the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art, where he gained the title of senior curator and prepared a number of anthology exhibitions of Slovenian art, solo as well as thematic exhibitions: Aspects of the Minimal: Minimal Art in Slovenia 1968–1980 (1990); OHO–A Retrospective (1994); Inexplicable Presence: Curator's Working Place (1997); Tank! Slovene Historical Avant-Garde (1998, with: Breda Ilich Klančnik); The Eye and Its Truth (2001); Seven Sins: Ljubljana – Moscow (2004, with: Zdenka Badovinac and Viktor Misiano); an exhibition trilogy Slovene Art 1975–2005 (2003–05, with: Igor Španjol).

His curatorial work outside Slovenia includes distinguished exhibition Individual Systems at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and, among others, 33rd Zagreb Salon at the Museum and Gallery Centre Zagreb (1998); Aspects/Positions at the Museum moderner Kunst – Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (1999, member of the team of experts, chief curator: Lóránd Hegyi); and The Future Is Not What It Used To Be, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (2004, with Barbara Steiner).

Zabel was coordinator of Manifesta 3, European Biennial of Contemporary Art, in Ljubljana in 2000 and a member of the International Board of Manifesta. He was co-editor of the first six issues of the MJ – Manifesta Journal: Journal of Contemporary Curatorship (with Viktor Misiano) and for several years editor of the magazine of Moderna galerija Ljubljana M’ars as well as one of the advisors for the Moderna galerija's 2000+ Arteast Collection (curator: Zdenka Badovinac).

Igor Zabel is the author of two books of essays on contemporary art and a number of essays and articles published in Slovenian and international anthologies, collected editions, catalogues and magazines (including Art Journal, Art Press, Flash Art, Index, Moscow Art Magazine, and others). A selection of his essays in English was published after his death: Igor Zabel: Contemporary Art Theory. He wrote short stories and translated (into and from the Slovene language) numerous texts and books from the field of humanities and literature (his Slovene translations include: Thomas Pynchon, Edward W. Said, Oscar Wilde, Immanuel Maurice Wallerstein, Sigmund Freud, Michael Baxandall, Erwin Panofsky, etc.).

For several years, he engaged in passing on his broad knowledge and experiences in writing and curating contemporary art to younger generations in the World of Art – Curatorial Course for Contemporary Art in Ljubljana.

photo: Borut Krajnc
photo: Borut Krajnc