East European art scenes have long invited mostly negative comparisons with their West European counterparts. During the Cold War era, external perceptions often blurred the many differences between state socialisms and their related cultural fields. For their part, local artists and art historians in the countries of Eastern Europe criticized such homogenizing accounts, pointing instead to the many, and wide-ranging, Western connections of individual artists or artist groups with the West, as well as their distance from so-called official art. Another question was also rarely asked: whether there was any dialogue between artists working in different state-socialist societies of Eastern … Read more
Henryk Stażewski (1894-1988) had a long artistic run in two different versions of his home country: first as a pioneer of the avant-garde in the Polish Republic between 1918 and 1939 and then his later, but no less experimental career in the communist Polish People’s Republic founded in the post-war world order after 1945. It is the latter that is the subject of the exhibition Henryk Stażewski: Late Style at the Muzeum Sztuki Lodz – to many known as a legendary institution with a pedigree as an avant-garde museum (including the colorful interior of the Neo-Plastic Room for abstract art) … Read more
Review of the conference organized by the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) in Lisbon, September 1–3, 2022
Since 2008, the roving biennial conferences of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies (EAM) have promoted the study of the avant-garde and modernism in Europe in a wide temporal and disciplinary framework, setting leading themes such as “High and Low“ (2010 Poznań), “Utopia” (2014 Helsinki), or “CRiSiS” in 2020. The mission statement and communications of the Network have always stressed the transnational aspects of avant-garde practices and indicated that Europe is to be considered in a global setting. … Read more
Ilija Šoškić, born in 1935 in present-day Kosovo (then part of Yugoslavia), and raised in present-day Montenegro, became the most known representative of the Montenegrin neo-avant-garde, although the artist would never call himself that. Rejecting any nationalist aspirations of the post-Yugoslav states, he sees himself instead as a nomad or a pilgrim(I refer to the title of Šoškić’s performance Pilgrimage (Hero’s Walk), from a 1975 performance realized at the Hohenzollern Castle, in Tubingen, Germany.)—somebody constantly on the road. Nevertheless, he has returned on several occasions to Montenegro and currently is based in neighboring Croatia.
Šoškić’s actions, installations, and … Read more
Agnieszka Pindera and Jarosław Suchan, Eds. The Avant-Garde Museum: Mузеи художественной культуры, Kabinett der Abstrakten, Société Anonyme, grupa a.r. (Łódź: Muzeum Sztuki, 2020), 624 pp.
In the context of the current worldwide pandemic crises that have accelerated the search for a new language and channels of communication with the new museum audience, the anthology The Avant-Garde Museum is a powerful reminder that the idea of a modern art museum—one that serves critical artistic, educational, and social purposes—has been shaped by avant-garde artists. Furthermore, the idea for such a museum was created in the shadow
24 Arguments: Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971, The National Museum of Art of Romania, November 7, 2019–February 2, 2020
While writing this article on an exhibition tracing cross-cultural relations between Romania and the United Kingdom, free movement and transnational and translocal exchanges have become, during the current pandemic, luxuries of a past epoch. The exhibition under review, 24 Arguments: Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971, recounts the cultural exchanges that took place during the three short years identified, which now loom in historical distance. In these far away times, just a few years after Ceaușescu came into … Read more
Ieva Astahovska and Antra Priede-Krievkalne, eds., Valdis Āboliņš. The Avant-garde, Mailart, the New Left, and Cultural Relations during the Cold War (Riga: Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, 2019), 662 pp.
Few publications deal with Latvian artists in exile who settled in various Western countries after they (or their parents) fled the approaching Soviet army at the end of the Second World War.(For a useful introduction to this topic, see the catalogue: Dace Lamberga, ed., Latviešu māksla trimdā – Latvian Art in Exile (Riga: LNMM & Neputns, 2013).) Costly and time-consuming research abroad is often necessary to tell the … Read more
Mattis Teutsch: Avant-Garde and Constructive Realism, Scena9, Bucharest, September 12, 2019 – October 25, 2019
János Mattis Teutsch, the Hungarian-German-Romanian painter from Brașov, was characterised in 1920 as “the first who has the audacity to present to the Romanian public works in an expressionist style.” (Sigmund Maur, Rampa newspaper, October 21, 1920.) Mattis Teutsch was associated with the likes of Kandinsky, Marc, and Klee both in actual exhibitions, and in discussions of his artistic and conceptual calibre. His legacy today, however, is something of a battlefield, and the explanation for this lies in the seemingly incongruent bodies of … Read more