The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb

Collection in Motion

I. Project and Destiny

PROJECT AND DESTINY encompasses artists and groups of artists who have identified their lives with programmatic goals set before art. In fact, they equate ethics and aesthetics.

By entitling this unit PROJECT AND DESTINY, according to the title of the famous modernist essay written by the Italian art theoretician Giulio Carlo Argan, we wanted to stress that the work of these groups of artists was founded on a certain program, project, manifesto or anti-manifesto, public appearances or conscious detachment from the public.

By equating their programs/projects with their personal destiny, these artists acted critically, often even subversively, in the cold-war climate of late modernism during the nineteen fifties and sixties. Some of them take the experiences of the historical avant-garde (futurism, Russian avant-garde, constructivism, Bauhaus, De Stijl, etc.) as their point of departure, advocating the need to connect art with certain forms of social activity, i.e., changing the social environment of art (EXAT 51 group), while others withdraw and consider giving up, simple associating, and other forms of passive behaviour to be forms of collective artistic expression (Gorgona group).

In Croatia, these two art collectives, EXAT 51 (1951-1956) and Gorgona (1959-1966), as well as the individuals who constituted them, have directly, but also retroactively, strongly marked art in this region of Europe. It is not an exaggeration to say that both groups, but especially Gorgona, attained mythical status in Croatian art. Apart from them, many other art groups and collectives have vigorously influenced the landscape of contemporary art with their work (OHO, Family at Šempas, IRWIN, and Group of Six Authors, to name a few).

Characteristic of the modernist notion of the world, which in its foundations carries the experience of the historical avant-garde, is here the notion of project, equated with the destiny and determination of the artist, his true vocation to change the world that surrounds him. Although in a large number of works from this unit it is impossible to recognize the statement of social mission as a mainstay of the artwork at first glance, because they are very often just a reconstruction, recycling, or revitalization of specific practices of the historical avant-garde and remind us of so-called formalist poetics, the knowledge of the context in which these works have been created, as well as their reception, confirm that here as well we are dealing with a social project par excellence.


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