Zagreb Calling: Ivan Picelj, Vjenceslav Richter and Julije Knifer

Curated by Ilaria Bignotti


28 March - 28 June 2019

Installation view, Zagreb Calling: Ivan Picelj, Vjenceslav Richter and Julije Knifer, Cortesi Gallery Milano, 2019. Photo: Bruno Bani

Cortesi Gallery is pleased to present Zagreb Calling, an exhibition dedicated to three main artists of the Sixties and Seventies: Ivan Picelj, Vjenceslav Richter and Julije Knifer.

Founders of the new-constructivist and the conceptual languages, they have actively operated, leaving the former Yugoslavia, at an International level, elaborating a deep linguistic revolution that still keeps on contaminating and inspiring our visual culture and is more and more interesting the International collecting.

Ivan Picelj has been the founder and the leading man of the International movement nove tendencije (New Tendencies), born in Zagreb in 1961 from a team of artists, critics and cultural operators coming from all over the world: from the groups ZERO and GRAV, to the groups N and T, from Piero Manzoni to Enrico Castellani, from Almir Mavignier to Ivan Picelj. Vjenceslav Richter, who also worked among the ranks of nove tendencije, has been one of the most important Croatian architects of the XX Century as shown by the extraordinary structural clarity and the very elegant shape of his works. Finally, Julije Knifer who transited through nove tendencije has been one of the founder of another very important group, Gorgona, and since 1960 he has been able to find a linguistic form, the Meander, that makes him one of the most important conceptual artist of our time.

Today firmly historicized and at the center of a critical debate intended to underline their centrality in the development of the art of the Sixties and Seventies, Cortesi Gallery dedicates to the three artists, thanks to the wardship by Ilaria Bignotti, one of the best-known experts of the artistic relationships between Italy and the former Yugoslavia, a fascinating and original expositive path.

The exhibition in fact includes more than forty pictorial, sculptural and graphic works directly selected from the Archives of the artists – Ivan Picelj Archive, Vjenceslav Richter Collection – and from the main International Collections, proposing an historic – artistic path that also underlines the importance of the city of Milan as a center, since the end of the Fifties, for the exchanges between European and Balkan artists.

The exhibition, completed by a bilingual edition published by Skira, care of Ilaria Bignotti and with essays by Ilaria Bignotti and Vesna Meštrić for the Richter Collection, continues the virtuous route marked in 2016 by the Cortesi Gallery with the monography dedicated to Ivan Picelj, titled The Concrete Utopia. Ivan Picelj and New Tendencies 1961-1973, again by Ilaria Bignotti and at the time exclusively dedicated to the founder and leading man of the great International movement nove tendencije.

Over a distance of three years, and after two years of research, relationships, dialogues Ilaria Bignotti and the Gallery have been able to organize an expositive path that has also gained the precious support and the patronage of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Zagreb, “temple” of the New Tendencies.

The artists:

Ivan Picelj (Okučani, 1924 – Zagreb, 2011)
Among the most important artists of the post-WWII in the former Yugoslavia, Picelj has been the founder and the animator of the artistic and cultural debate initially born around the group Exat 51 and then around the International movement nove tendencije. Cosmopolitan and intellectual personality, Picelj has crossed all the visual languages, from painting to sculpture, from architecture to design, to graphic, becoming a graphic designer of the movement itself and of the bit international magazine. His works can be found in museums and institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Boymans Museum in Rotterdam. Since 2011, the Museum of Contemporary art in Zagreb has preserved, in addition to a fundamental nucleus of his works, his Archive and the library.

Vjenceslav Richter (b. 1917 in Omilje – d. 2002 in Zagreb)
Vjenceslav Richter was architect, artist, painter, graphic designer, stage designer, theoretician one of the key figures on the Croatian art scene in the second half of the 20th c From the 1946 he was engaged in exhibition architecture and from 1948 works together with I. Picelj and A. Srnec designing many exhibition pavilions and exhibition set-up. In this early period he was strongly influenced of historical avant-garde movements, primarily the Bauhaus, Russian Constructivism, De Stijl and the architectural paradigms of W. Gropius, M. van der Rohe, E. Mendelson and Le Courbusier. Richter was a co-founder of the EXAT 51 group and an active participant of the New Tendencies international art movement from 1963 to 1973, and the author of many successful, award-winning architectural projects for exhibition pavilions, including the pavilions for the EXPO in Brussels in 1958, the international labour exhibition held in Turin in 1961 and the 13th Triennale in Milan in 1963/64. His plastic explorations and exhibitions merge visual arts, architecture and sculpture: Reliefmeter, Systemic Scultpures, Systemic Prints, Systemic Paintings.

Julije Knifer (Osijek, Croatia, 1924-Paris 2004)
Among the main artists of conceptual art in the former Yugoslavia, Knifer has gone through the geometrical abstraction and the new-constructivism, languages at the heart of nove tendencije, and was active in the ranks of theGorgona group, that he co-founded in 1959, until 1966, reflecting and operating with the purpose to undermine the traditional artistic forms and to deeply renew the languages. The “Meander “dates back to 1960: so the artist defines his black/white two-color shape that, in infinite variants, he kept on creating extending it from the two-dimensional work to the environmental dimension. He represented Croatia at the Venice Biennale in 2001. His works can be found in the main International institutions, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich,to the National Galerie in Berlin.

With the patronage of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Zagreb. (Muzej suvremene umjetnosti):



Gallery Coordinator:
Valentina Lovato

Sales Director:

Gala Kalchbrenner



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