Diego Cortez, an influential determine in New York City’s Downtown art and music scenes who in 1981 curated a huge exhibition showcasing dozens of artists that introduced the 20-12 months-outdated Jean-Michel Basquiat to community renown, died on Monday in Burlington, N.C. He was 74.

The cause was kidney failure, his sister, Kathy Hudson, reported. He died in hospice treatment at her property but had been living in nearby Saxapahaw.

Mr. Cortez appeared to be in all places in SoHo, TriBeCa and beyond in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He was a founder of the Mudd Club, a gritty, boundary-pushing nightclub that opened in 1978. He done with Laurie Anderson and Kathy Acker directed audio videos for Blondie and the Speaking Heads mounted displays of drawings and images by the singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith and wrote “Private Elvis,” a book with photos of Elvis Presley’s time in the Army that Mr. Cortez identified in West Germany.

Then came the “New York/New Wave” display in 1981. Held at the slicing-edge P.S. 1 Up to date Art Centre (now MoMA PS 1) in Very long Island Metropolis, Queens, the exhibition demonstrated Mr. Cortez’s eclectic know-how of the visible and musical worlds that he’d been immersed in considering the fact that he moved to New York City.

He recruited much more than 100 artists for the clearly show, among them Ms. Acker, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, David Byrne, William Burroughs, Futura 2000, Ann Magnuson, Fab 5 Freddy and Basquiat, whom he had achieved on the dance ground of the Mudd Club.

“It was huge — pretty much 600 to 700 operates of artwork that took 3 weeks to put in, using two set up crews,” Alana Heiss, the founder of P.S. 1, stated by mobile phone. “He was incredibly persuasive: we started with one particular team of galleries on the to start with floor and ended up on two floors.”

“Diego,” she mentioned, “was entire of unquenchable enthusiasm.”

Curt Hoppe, a photorealist painter whose work was in the exhibition, recalled: “He brought uptown and downtown collectively, graffiti and downtown artists, and he hung it in an unconventional way, splattering all the things on the walls. It was a riveting demonstrate.”

He additional, “Diego was the epitome of awesome.”

In a maximalist clearly show that Mr. Cortez packed with present and upcoming stars, Basquiat was introduced to a broader globe. Recognised first for his graffiti art, he had morphed into a painter who integrated photographs of angular people and symbols with words and phrases and phrases. The present, for which Basquiat created about 20 new operates, introduced him to the interest of dealers. By the time he died in 1988 at 27, he was a superstar.

“What will make this function is the depth of the line,” Mr. Cortez claimed in 2017 when the Basquiat portion of “New York/New Wave” was partly restaged at the Barbican Artwork Gallery in London. “Jean-Michel was genuinely a lot more of a drawer. It keeps that innocent component, that childish facet which is significant, simply because it is a little bit not grownup.”

Mr. Cortez remained connected to Basquiat long just after the P.S. 1 exhibition. He curated a number of more shows of his do the job encouraged his estate and served on its authentication committee acted as a expert to the painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel when Mr. Schnabel directed the movie “Basquiat” (1996) and performed a little bit portion as what the credits named a “fist-fighter at the Mudd Club” in “Downtown 81,” one more movie about Basquiat, unveiled in 2001.

James Allan Curtis was born on Sept. 30, 1946, in Geneva, Ill., and grew up nearby in Wheaton. His father, Allan, was a warehouse supervisor for a steel organization, and his mother, Jean (Ham) Curtis, was a manicurist.

Following graduating from Illinois Point out College with a bachelor’s degree, he acquired a master’s diploma in 1973 at the College of the Artwork Institute of Chicago, where he examined movie, movie and general performance artwork. His teachers integrated the avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage and the online video artist Nam June Paik.

He adjusted his title to Diego Cortez prior to transferring to New York Metropolis in 1973, adopting it as an inventive pseudonym and as a reflection of the Hispanic community in Chicago exactly where he experienced lived.

At the time in New York, he worked as a studio assistant to the conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim and then to the online video and performance artist Vito Acconci. About the upcoming couple decades, as he grew to become even further enmeshed in the Downtown songs and artwork worlds, he held a range of jobs, which include a single as a stability guard at the Museum of Modern-day Art. The task influenced Ms. Anderson in 1977 to release “Time to Go (For Diego),” a song that tells how Mr. Cortez, functioning the late change, would explain to people when it was time to go away:

Or, as he put it, snap them out of their … art trances.
People today who had been standing in front of a single point for hrs.
He would bounce in entrance of them and snap his fingers.
And he’d say, “Time to go.”

Mr. Cortez’s occupation right after “New York/New Wave” was multifaceted, but he in no way structured an additional tremendous exhibition like that 1. He was an occasional agent and curator collaborated on initiatives with his buddy Brian Eno, the innovative musician and producer and served as an artwork adviser to the Luciano Benetton and Frederik Roos collections. He designed an album, “Traumdeutung” (2014), a recording of his snoring blended with new music. And at one stage he tried out, unsuccessfully, to start off a museum in Puerto Rico.

“His primary intention was to to aid artists by getting collectors purchase their work or to get their work into museums,” explained Ms. Hudson, his sister, who arranged exhibitions with her brother at the John Hope Franklin Heart at Duke College, where she worked.

In addition to her, Mr. Cortez is survived by a different sister, Carol Baum, and a brother, Daniel Curtis.

Patti Smith, in a cellular phone job interview, said she to start with bought to know Mr. Cortez in the 1970s. He later on urged her to resume working on her visible artwork, which she had mostly stopped pursuing throughout a long hiatus from community daily life. “He was a bridge to supporting me get my ft back again on the ground,” she explained.

He aided curate a display of Ms. Smith’s drawings and images at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh in 2002 and an exhibition of her pictures in 2010 at the New Orleans Museum of Artwork, exactly where he was the curator of photography at the time.

“He did not like to stand in other people’s light,” Ms. Smith stated. “He desired Basquiat to stand on his personal. He needed me to stand on my individual at my exhibition in New Orleans. He was truly fascinated in observing persons he imagined experienced promise flower.”