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Costakis Collection

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Date: 1950s-1977

Artists in the collection: Vasily Kandinsky, Ivan Kliun, Dmitri Krasnopevtsev, Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, Ivan Puni, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, Anatoly Zverev, among many others

Location: Costakis apartment, Prospekt Vernadskogo, Moscow

George Costakis (Georgii Dionisovich Kostaki, 1912-1990) began collecting Russian avant-garde art in 1946, when he discovered three paintings by Olga Rozanova in a Moscow studio, and was bitten by the collecting bug. He soon added 15th-17th century Russian icons and the work of young “nonconformist” artists, like Anatoly Zverev and Dmitri Krasnopevtsev, to his roster. Employed at the Canadian embassy as an administrative clerk, Costakis hunted for lost works by such artists as Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Ivan Puni, and Ivan Kliun anywhere he could find them, among remaining relatives and tucked away in private rooms and studios around the Soviet Union. At a time when modernist art was hidden from view in the storerooms of Soviet museums, Costakis’s private collection, which he displayed on the walls of his home, became Moscow’s unofficial museum of modern art and a meeting place for international art collectors and art lovers visiting the capital. Regular guests to Costakis’s apartment included nonconformist artists Anatoly Zverev (1931-1986), Oskar Rabin (b. 1928), Dmitri Krasnopevtsev (1924-1995), Dmitri Plavinsky (1937-2012), Vladimir Veisberg (1924-1985), and many others. Costakis’s friendship with the younger artists gave them access to the avant-garde legacy, to which many of their own works aspired and responded. Costakis left the Soviet Union for Greece in 1977, leaving a large portion of his collection as a gift to the Russian people to reside at the State Tretyakov Gallery.

Document: George COSTAKIS – excerpt from memoirs (1993)


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Image Architecture – exhibition by Lajos Kassák

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Date: 03 March 1967

Participant: Lajos Kassák (1887-1967)

Opening by: Máté Major (1904-1986, architect, editor)

Location: Adolf Fényes Hall, Budapest

The occasion for this exhibition was the 80th birthday of the artist,who since 1949, was hardly able to get official permission to exhibit his abstract works in Hungary. The Adolf Fényes Hall was an exhibition space offered for self-financed shows that were not funded by the state – as all other public exhibitions – but by the artists themselves. The author of the text, Ferenc Csaplár (1940-2007), was the director of the Kassák Múzeum from its foundation in 1976 until 2007. This article was written on the occasionof an exhibition with the same title.

Documents:

Ferenc Csaplár: From Prohibition to Tolerance, Kassák’s Work and the Cultural Politics of the 1960s (2006)

Victor Vasarely’s letter to Lajos Kassák (1966)


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Iparterv actions and exhibitions

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Dates: 29 November 1968 (Do You See What I See) , 22 December 1968 (Iparterv I), 24  October 1969 (Iparterv II)

Participants: Imre Bak, András Baranyay, Miklós Erdély, Krisztián Frey, Tamás Hencze, György Jovánovics, Ilona Keserü, Gyula Konkoly, László Lakner, János Major, László Méhes, Sándor Molnár, István Nádler, Ludmil Siskov, Tamás Szentjóby, Endre Tót

Organizer: Péter Sinkovits (1943)

Opening by: János Tölgyesi (Iparterv I)

Location: Iparterv State Architectural Office, meeting hall, Budapest

Tamás Szentjóby planned an exhibition entitled “Donor” in July 1968, in the Iparterv State Architectural Office, but it was cancelled after the invitation leaflet was printed and distributed. Three months later and three weeks before the famous first Iparterv exhibition he organized actions entitled  “Do You See What I See”  in the same location with Miklós Erdély and László Méhes. In the “Iparterv 68-80″ catalog issued in 1980 Erdély described these actions as his connection to the Iparterv group.

The hall of the Iparterv Office was not used regularly for exhibitions and the shows were open only for a few days. The first famous group show presenting the “first generation of the neo-avantgarde” in 1968  was accompanied by a small catalog containing a short introduction by the curator, Péter Sinkovits and the reproduction of the works and the CVs of the participants.

In 1969 four more artists, András Baranyay, László Méhes, János Major, and Tamás Szentjóby accepted Sinkovits’ invitation.  A year later a catalog was printed illegally in the printing house of the Iparterv Office with a slightly different list of artists (Tamás Szentjóby and Sándor Molnár was left out, Miklós Erdély and Attila Pálfalusi included).

In 1980 a commemorating exhibition was initiated by art historian László Beke (1944) and Lóránd Hegyi (1954). On this occasion a comprehensive English-Hungarian publication was issued containing several studies and also documents of the previous exhibitions in addition to the works of the participants.  Finally, shortly before the Regime Change, in December 1988 a three-part “Hommage à Iparterv” series was organized in the Fészek Gallery by Lóránd Hegyi.

Documents:

Péter Sinkovits: Introduction of the publication Document 69–70 (1970)

Miklós Erdély describing the actions performed by him (1980)


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Estonian Avant-Garde Art – exhibition

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Date: 17 – 23 August 1970

Participants: Enn Tegova (1946), Peeter Urbla (1945), Rein Tammik (1947), Vello Tamm (1940-1991), Ando Keskküla (1950-2008), Andres Tolts (1949), Leonhard Lapin (1947), and Sirje Runge (1950)

Location: Café Pegasus, Tallinn

The exhibition “Estonian Avant-Garde Art” that opened as part of the third International Finno-Ugric Days was supposed to become a group exhibition of the most radical Estonian art groups active at the time: ANK’64[1], Visarid[2], and SOUP’69. However, due to changes in the political situation[3], many artists decided not to participate.

The few faded photographs of the exhibition that have survived dynamically convey a sense of the exhibition itself as well as the space, which differs greatly from the white cube of the gallery. These are not anonymous shots of an exhibition; rather, they show the works in the social atmosphere of the café. The setting was probably important for creating the works as well. Most of the artworks are inspired by Pop Art—the notion of wanting to shock and grab attention is apprehensible. Urbla’s phallic object Kazachok made from patterned chintz, Tolts’s textile assemblages like the one titled Sleeping Place, and Lapin’s two readymades (pillows) all play with the idea of blurring the line between art and everyday objects. Relating to reality and its mass-produced objects—a concept stemming from Pop Art—leads to the idea of the artist’s need to intervene, which in turn becomes the agenda for the following years. This new role of the artist (and its unique accompanying capabilities) was also referenced on the exhibition poster, which displayed a red cross and a crescent moon along with the slogan, “Sick ones, we will heal you!”


[1] ANK’64 was the first artist’s group in the Soviet period. It formed 1964 from the students of printmaking at the State Institute of Art, including Tõnis Vint, Malle Leis (1940), Jüri Arrak (1936), Kristiina Kaasik (1943), Tiiu Pallo-Vaik (1941), Enno Ootsing (1940), Tõnis Laanemaa (1937), Aili Vint (1941), Marju Mutsu (1941-1980), Vello Tamm (1940-1991). Their pursuits in art were connected with youth culture, Pop and Op Art, as well as with the Avant-Gardes of the early 20th century.

[2] The artist’s group Visarid formed 1968 around the art studio of the Tartu State University and the head of the studio Kaljo Põllu (1934-2010). Other members were: Peeter Lukats (1933), Jaak Olep (1945-2000), Rein Tammik (1947), Enn Tegova (1946), Peeter Urbla (1945), et. al. Visarid advocated “total art”, art that do not design individual commodities, but reorganize the hole environment. The group dissolved 1972.

[3] In aftermath of the Prague Spring events the pressure on artists as well as other members of the society got higher,  the system got more repressive.


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Direct Week

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Date: 6-9 July 1972

Organisers: Gyula Pauer (1941), Tamás Szentjóby (1944)

Participants: László Beke, Miklós Erdély, Gyula Gulyás, Miklós Haraszti, László Haris, Ágnes Háy, Tamás Hencze, Péter Lajtai, Péter Legéndy, József Molnár V., Gyula Pauer, Margit Rajczi, Tamás Szentjóby, Endre Tót

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

Direct Week was an exhibition and event series that incorporated works and actions replying to Pauer’s and Szentjóby’s call, as well as lectures and screenings that were originally in the program of the “Avantgarde Festival” planned in April in a Budapest Club, but banned shortly before its scheduled date.

Documents:

Gyula Pauer, Tamás Szentjóby: Call for “Direct Week” (1972)

Gyula Pauer: II. Pseudo Manifesto (Advertisement) (1972)

Tamás Szentjóby:  Exclusion exercise – Punishement-Preventive Autotheraphy (1969-72)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003):  126-135.

On the website of Artpool Art Research Center


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A White Space in a White Space

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Date: 1973-1974

Participants and organizers: Stano Filko (1937), Miloš Laky (1948–1975), Ján Zavarský (1948)

Locations: Studio of Stano Filko, Bratislava; House of Arts, Brno; Young Artists Club, Budapest

The joint initiative of three artists—Stano Filko, Miloš Laky, and Ján Zavarský—left behind the sphere of science and technology in order to reach a spatial experience of the color white, and to equate painting to a mystical experience. White paint was applied, without any personal gesture, onto various objects and materials (i.e., carton tubes, felt)—it considered as a sign of transcendence beyond the the boundaries of the objective world. In a joint manifesto, the authors removed themselves from all systems of representation in order to fulfill the following goals: to create a visual equivalent of an empty space and in a sense to dematerialize art objects to exceed individuality; to clear away a single author’s personal perspective; and to negate traditional means of painting in visual art. The project was exhibited in the House of Arts, Brno (1973) and in the Young Artists Club,  Budapest (1977). Two self-published catalogs by the artists were published, accompanied by a manifesto, and texts written by Jiří Valoch, Tomáš Štrauss, and László Beke.


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László Beke, Miklós Erdély, György Jovánovics, Péter Legéndy, János Major, Gyula Pauer, and Tamás Szentjóby – exhibition and actions

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Date: 24 June 1973

Participants: László Beke (1944), Miklós Erdély (1928-1986), György Jovánovics(1939), Péter Legéndy (1948), János Major (1936-2008), Gyula Pauer (1941), Tamás Szentjóby (1944)

Location: Chapel Studio of György Galántai, Balatonboglár

This exhibition – presented two months before the Chapel Studio was occupied and closed by the police – did not have any title and was completed spontaneously with works and actions during two weeks. The works exhibited were used as props for theatrical performances in the next few weeks.

Documents:

Miklós Erdély: What is avantgardism? (1973)

Tamás St. Auby – interview (1998)

György Jovánovics – interview (1998)

Source: Törvénytelen avantgárd. Galántai György balatonboglári kápolnaműterme 1970–1973 [Illegal Avant-garde, the Balatonboglár Chapel Studio of György Galántai 1970–1973], eds. Júlia Klaniczay and Edit Sasvári  (Artpool–Balassi, Budapest, 2003): 150-5.


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Street – exhibition by Erzsébet Schaár

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Date: 23 June 1974

Participant: Erzsébet Schaár (1908-1975)

Opening by: János Pilinszky (1921-1981)

Location: Csók István Gallery, Székesfehérvár

The last exhibition of Erzsébet Schaár was accompanied by a catalog containing the poems of János Pilinszky coupled with the art pieces, next to which they were read out at the opening. The process of building the exhibition and the opening was filmed by János Gulyás (1946). The installation was later displayed in Lucerne and then, finally, in Pécs, where the temporal styrofoam components of the sculptures were replaced with pieces made of concrete. Géza Perneczky writes about Schaár in his comprehensive essay about the Iparterv group and the Neo-Avant-Garde in Hungary.

Document: Géza Perneczky on Erzsébet Schaár (1996)


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Reconstruction. Idea. Project. Object. – Jüri Okas’s solo show

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Date: 18­–29 March 1976

Participant: Jüri Okas (1950)

Location: Tallinn Art Hall, exhibition space on the third floor of the Artists’ Union

In the late 1960s, the Artists’ Union set up a small room on the third floor of the Tallinn Art Hall to enable artists whose works had been rejected from official exhibitions to show their work. Access to these exhibitions was technically open to all, but since one could enter the space only through the premises of the Artists’ Union, the wider public was automatically excluded. The exhibitions were approved by a board of Artists’ Union functionaries and a poster was produced for each exhibition.

The walls of the exhibition space displayed black-and-white photographs and print works—what were called “reconstructions”—dealing with structural analyses of concrete, mostly urban, environments. With the additional use of black-painted wooden staves and mirrors, Okas created an all-encompassing perceptual environment, and with this installation he made one of the first attempts in Estonia to redefine the exhibition genre and also the art object.
Perhaps referencing Minimalist art practices as well as El Lissitzky’s Proun Room (1923), Okas fully engaged the viewer with the exhibition space—distorted and deformed by mirrors, it was a deconstructive space that confused and disoriented viewers as they moved about. Following the exhibition, Okas shot the 8 mm film Environment (1976, black and white, 5 min.). The film combines exhibition views with exterior views of the city. Like Reconstruction, the film is characterized by bustling montage, jumpy rhythm, and sharp cuts; it provides an analysis of the space and perceptions of it.

Later, Okas preferred the title “Environment” for the exhibition as well as the film.


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Portraits of the actors, directors, composers, and set designers of the State Russian Drama Theater, Vilnius – exhibition of photographs

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Date: January 24–February 14, 1985

Participants: Algirdas Šeškus (1945) and Alfonsas Budvytis (1949)

Organizer: LSSR (Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic) Art Workers’ Palace, Vilnius

Location: LSSR Art Workers’ Palace, Vilnius

This series of photographs, created in 1984, was an interpretation of a state commission. Algirdas Šeškus and Alfonsas Budvytis, at the time outsiders of the official art-photography scene, authored the project. “Ignoring the standards of the portrayal of public figures and experimenting with the models’ characters and psychological types and the composition of the shots, these artists have expanded the space of the traditional aesthetics of Lithuanian photography,” noted art historian and curator Margarita Matulytė.[1] The collection of sixty works was first presented at the Yermolova Theater in Moscow in 1984, accompanying the State Russian Drama Theater’s official tour, and then traveled back to be exhibited in Vilnius: it was exhibited in the theater as well as presented at the LSSR Art Workers’ Palace in 1985. The press did not take notice the project at the time, and its innovative character and the artists’ avant-garde attitude have only recently been highlighted.


[1] Margarita Matulytė, Annotation for the exhibition “Portraits of the Actors, Directors, Composers, and Set Designers of the State Russian Drama Theater”, National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, 20 April – 27 June, 2010.


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Beginning – photography exhibition

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Date: 1989

Participants: Galina Moskaleva, Vladimir Shakhlevich, Uladzimir Parfianok, Sergey Kozhemyakin and others.

Location: House of Cinema (Dom Kino), Minsk

Their photographic works demonstrated an approach to photography as a form of contemporary visual art that inherited the experimental and innovative traditions of avant-garde art.

“Beginning” was one of the most significant Belarusian photography exhibitions in the ‘80s. The show presented work by Valery Lobko’s students. Lobko was a prominent teacher of experimental photography, and ran workshops on creative photography between 198186.

Concurrently, informal, creative associations of self-taught photographers such as Pravintsyia, Meta, Bielaruski Klimat, and Panorama started exhibiting between 198791.

 

 


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Exhibition of “Blo” Association

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Date: 1987

Participants: Ilona Baradulina, Huzel Zalayeva, Artur Klinau, Lus (Andrej Lusikau), Siathej Pilat, Valery Pesin, Vital Charanbrysau

Location: House of Cinema, Minsk

The exhibition of artists group called “BLO Association” in the House of Cinema (now – The Red Cathedral) comprised individual and collectively-produced paintings, installations and performances. “The Songs of a Superman” was performed by Artur Klinau at the opening. The exhibition was the first group show presenting the works of artists who were not associated with official Art Academy and felt unrestrained in their methods and approaches. As opposed to ‘academic’ artists who emphasized the importance of the early avant-garde tradition, geometrical abstraction, picture-based works, they used pop-culture imagery and trash in their installations.


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Kazimir Malevich-110 – group exhibition

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Date: 4 November–4 December 1988

Participants: the association of Vitebsk artists known as Kvadrat (“Square”); Pluralis”; Ihar Kashkurevich; Ludmila Rusava; the artist collective Komi-Kon; Association of Experimental Visual Arts (SEVA, Leningrad)

Location: Union of Artists, Vitebsk

The opening featured performances by the collaborative duo Ihar Kashkurevich and Ludmila Rusava, and was dedicated to the 110th anniversary of Malevich’s death. The event was the first in a series of ritualistic performances exploring Malevich’s legacy in Belarus (other exhibitions included “Kazimir’s Revival” in Minsk, 1988 , and “Suprematist Kazimir Revival” in Moscow, 1990). This exhibition also marked the beginning of artistic collaborations between performance artists Kashkurevich and Rusava.

Source: Volha Archipava. Belarusian Avant-garde of the 1980s. ‘pARTisan’s Collection’ series. Minsk 2012. http://partisanmag.by/

 


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