Vladimir Kristl
Variables, 1962
wood / paper / wire
115 x 31 cm
MG-3002
Vladimir Kristl (1921 or 1923 – 2004) was a heterogeneous and polyvalent personality, who was active from the Post-Socialist and High Modernism period to Postmodernism. He was a painter, animator, film director and screenwriter, draughtsman, caricaturist, poet, professor and lecturer. In the visual arts field, his work includes paintings and drawings, caricatures and graphic designs, animated, experimental and feature films. Kristl was an intriguing and great artist of provocation (I. Zidić) who gained a cult following. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949, and was one of the co-founding members and painters of the EXAT-51 group of painters and architects (1951-1956) and exhibited at the group’s first public exhibition of abstract painting (Kristl, Picelj, Rašica, Srnec) held at the Croatian Architects Association in 1953. During the early 1950s he was one of the pioneers of Abstract art in Croatia and the most orthodox in the pursuit of geometric abstraction. In the late 1950s, he neared the concept of the materiality of painting as it was advocated by Art Informel. In 1959 he started painting a black and white series of positives and negatives, in which paintings became monochrome screens and which were painted in only achromatic white, for example. The painting Variation (1958) is divided into three ascetic achromatic sections and features a deliberate uncertainty of execution (J. Denegri). The painting’s irregular grid pattern heralds his Variables series from the early 1960s. This painting (Variables, 1962), broadly speaking a painting-object, indicates a spatial dynamic vertical and counterposed horizontal, in which he uses the raster method and cheap (non)painting materials (wire, thread, paper, wood), veering towards pure geometry. The Variants series, also from the early 1960s, follows along the same lines. He authored two anthological films of the Zagreb School of Animation: The Piece of Shagreen Leather (1960) and Don Quixote (1961), in which the characters are reduced to ideograms and he also experimented with animation. Because of social pressure and because he felt misunderstood by other members of the Zagreb School of Animation, he moved to what was then West Germany, where he became a protagonist of crucial events in German cinematography.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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