Organizers: HDLU and Modern Gallery
Time: June, 9 – June, 13, 2021
Concept: Branko Franceschi
The symposium is entitled Gesture and Freedom, and it will mark the centenary of the birth of Edo Murtić, the most notable representative of gestural abstraction and high modernism (in)of Croatia and Yugoslavia, as well as the 60th anniversary of the exhibition Contemporary Art from the USA held in our museum in 1961. The exhibition was curated by Harvard Arnason and featured works by 33 most distinguished representatives of US abstract expressionism.
The key idea of the symposium (a quite utopian one) is based on the notion that within political context of socialist Yugoslavia the (participating?) artists’ free gesture(s) brought in the visual language of abstract expressionism and symbolised social emancipation towards a more democratic society. Of course, it is a far more complex story minding geostrategic political realities of the era. At the time when culture was still used as an argument, Yugoslavian cultural agenda was to promote abstract art as a sign of departure from the SSSR umbrella and its doctrine of social realism. That political attitude was backed by the USA and was in accordance with the US agenda to promote own political supremacy by exhibiting what was the most influential art movement at the time.
**The Contemporary American Art exhibition has had a huge impact in the country. Edo Murtić, who was pursuing gestural abstraction ever after he had returned from the USA where he met Pollock in 1953, became the most influential and celebrated painter of the second half of the century in Croatia and Yugoslavia. The symposium intends to contextualise his oeuvre within that era.