Sven Stilinović, Collage, 1974

Sven Stilinović
Collage, 1974
analogue photography, silverprint
960 x 1770 mm

The youngest member of the Group of Six Authors, Sven Stilinović (1956), was strongly attracted to film and photography in the early stages of his artistic career. Even as a teenager, he made short films, questioning film conventions such as narration, camera position, and framing. He approached photography in the same way, questioning its objectivity and tendency to present the world as a self-sufficient fragment of reality, sacrificing the entirety of human perception in favor of a formally rounded visual fragment. In the 1970s, together with Fedor Vučemilović and Željko Jerman, he un-dertook a series of experiments in photography: he disrupted the relationship between positive and negative images, “spoiled” scenes with chemical stains and multiple exposures, and cut out finished photographs, randomly reassembling them. When working in the realm of traditional photography, in turn, he depicted subjects that pointed to the dark side of civilization, such as illegal waste dis-posal and ruins. In a way, Stilinović’s “Collage” connects his experimental and traditional approaches to photography. On one hand, he extensively modifies the photographic image, negating its repre-sentational objectivity. There is actually a certain destructive activity in “Collage,” a series of artistic processes that express a different form of the call made by Stilinović's friend Jerman: “Drop dead, photography!”. On the other hand, the abandoned car, along with the applied wire and padlock, symbolically indicate Stilinović’s open rebellion, which takes on forms of anarchism within broader social frameworks. Known in the public as the “enfant terrible of the Croatian art scene,” this art-ist’s conflict with the majority of artistic and social norms was both the trigger and the driving force of his work. After deconstructing artistic conventions, Stilinović turned his critical edge, his “J'Accuse...!” towards society. After creating a Yugoslav flag out of razor blades in 1984, he declared social reproduction, through a series of unsettling performances, as “geometry of bloodthirstiness”.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator 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

Boris Demur, Liberalization of Means, 1974

Boris Demur
Liberalization of Means, 1974
collage, mixed media
129 x 186 cm

Using various materials such as obituaries, cardboard packaging, and text, Boris Demur created the Liberalization of Means in 1974, through the process of collage and interventions with dark blue and green colors. By consciously controlling the psychological process through the use of an obituary with the name Ante, he equates the meanings of words with the act of collage, evoking emotions in the observer and making the collage visually memorable.
Conceptual artist Boris Demur (1951-2014, Zagreb) obtained a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1975, in the class of professor Raoul Goldoni, and in the same year, he enrolled in professor Albert Kinert’s printmaking class. At the same time, he attended the Master Workshop of Ljubo Ivančić, which he completed in 1977. Since 1975, he has been a member of the Croatian Association of Fine Artists (HDLU) and one of the founders and members of the Group of Six Authors, which operated through exhibitions, actions, projects, and performances from 1975 to 1978. Demur has been working as a freelance artist since 1994 and has held around 80 solo exhibitions and participated in over 200 group exhibitions, actions, performances, and artistic concepts in Croatia and abroad. He represented Croatia at the 23rd São Paulo Biennial in 1996 and was awarded the Order of Danica Hrvatska with the image of Marko Marulić in the same year. Demur has received several valuable awards and recognitions, and his works are included in collections and permanent displays of significant museums and galleries, as well as numerous private collections in Croatia and abroad. In 2004, a retrospective exhibition of Boris Demur's painting and sculpture was held at the Modern Gallery in Zagreb (today the NMMU), featuring works created from 1970 to 2000.

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Željko Jerman, A Nude at the Cemetery, 1974

Željko Jerman
A Nude at the Cemetery, 1974
photography, mixed media, 1405 x 1095 mm

Before becoming a member of the Group of Six Authors – a group of conceptual artists consisting of, besides Jerman, painter Boris Demur, photographers Sven Stilinović and Fedor Vučemilović, poet Vlado Martek and experimental filmmaker Mladen Stilinović – Jerman tried his hand in many forms of photography. First, after he dropped out of high school, he attended courses in amateur photography; then he opened a photo studio called Blow Up, but this very quickly proved financially unsustainable. In the period from 1972 to 1973 he published photographs of female nudes in the erotic magazine “Eva i Adam”. In the early 1970s, he also started exhibiting his work more often and to define more clearly his specific relationship towards photography.
Jerman focuses on the technical aspect of photography, the chemical processes that lead to its appearance. He consciously creates “bad” photographs, that is, he refuses to create a photographic image according to the rules of fine-art photography, both amateur or newspaper, of the time. Instead of framing skills, balanced compositions, poetic motifs or dramatic documents of reality, in 1973 he used a developer to write “Drop dead, photography!” on the surface of photographic paper. He soon expanded the procedures of negating traditional photography by scratching, tearing and burning.
Although the theme of “A Nude at the Cemetery” does not go beyond the framework of fine-art photography – it is an erotic version of the allegory of the transience of life – with a specific treatment of photographic paper and unusual development of the negative, Jerman managed to transform an almost erotic scene into a photography that expands our understanding of it and enriches our experience of art.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Josip Diminić, Mutual Acceptance, 1974

Josip Diminić
Mutual Acceptance, 1974
fiberglass, paint
58.5 x 55 x 21.5 cm

Josip Diminić (1937-2019) graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1963 under Prof. Marino Tartaglia. Between 1984 and 2008 when he retired, he taught sculpture at the Department of Fine Arts at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka, which became the Academy of Applied Arts, which Diminić was a co-founder of. He was also a co-founding member of many arts events and exhibitions in Croatia, such as the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium in Labin and the Montraker International Summer School of Sculpture in Vrsar.
Diminić was most recognised for his coloured organic and anthropomorphic sculptures, which he often translated into the mediums of drawing and graphic art equally successfully. He modelled stylised associative and often erotic sculptures in wood, stone, bronze and coloured plastic. In 1980 he turned to figuration and started modelling ceramic sculptures thematically related to birds of anthropomorphic forms as symbols of freedom. He sculpted monuments and park sculptures mounted in Labin, Rijeka and Karlovac, and published several graphic art folios.
Diminić’s very own abstract expression of typically concise sculptural forms which he reduced to primordial organic symbols is metaphorical in meaning. He modelled sculptures often with erotic associations which he frequently accentuated with colour. Diminić’s abstract Mutual Acceptance sculpture from 1974 is made of fiberglass, a pliable sculptural material that Diminić often worked with.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Vjera Lalin, Melpomene, 1974.

Vjera Lalin
Melpomene, 1974.
pencil, ink, pastel

Melpomene, in Greek mythology, is one of the nine Muses and the protector of poetry and art. She was the Muse of tragic poetry, that is, what we have today come to know as tragedy, a genre of drama in theatre. From Antiquity until the modern times, when her depictions became less frequent, Melpomene’s attributes – objects that distinguished her from other Muses – have been a tragic mask and an ivy wreath round her head. It is interesting that the tragic mask that Melpomene holds in her hand is actually a male bearded face with a mouth distorted in a painful grimace. The calmness that emanates from Melpomene’s body position and facial expression is in stark contrast to the image of the distorted male face on the mask, so this ancient scene can today carry a completely different, even feminist, meaning.

In Vjera Lalin’s drawing, an artist from Zagreb who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in 1974, there is no trace of this ancient tradition. Melpomene herself, who has for centuries been portrayed as a true protector and goddess – in ancient images she stands upright and dignified, and her face is calm – is here portrayed as a half-nude woman. Moreover, in Vjera Lalin’s drawing, Melpomene is not only depicted without an ivy wreath on her head, but her head is bald. Since this is an image of two very similar half-nude women, the observer cannot be sure which of them is the protector of tragic poetry, but given the peculiarity of the scene that is actually not so important. Is it a criticism of the impotence of art to express the tragedy of contemporary life, or does it ironize the norm which dictates that in fine arts everything must be depicted as harmonious and appealing, even in situations that are far from either beauty or harmony, we cannot be sure. Either way, it is an exceptional drawing that refers to tradition, but stands out from all representational standards.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb 2022

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