Gorgona Group, Josip Vaništa, Untitled (cut), 1990, Silkscreen on cloth, 155 × 239 cm, Edition of 20
Courtesy of Archivio Conz, Berlin
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  • Silkscreen on cloth
  • 155 × 239 cm
    (61 × 94 ⅛ inches)
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  • Taking their name from Greek mythology, the Gorgona Group was a Croatian avant-garde collective of artists and art critics. The group operated as a forum, whose critical, anti-artistic, and radical ideas had their primary goal in the dematerialization of art. Gorgona was founded in Zagreb by the visual artists Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer, Duro Seder, and Josip Vaništa, the sculptor Ivan Kožarić, the architect Miljenko Horvat, and the art historians Dimitrije Bašičević (Mangelos), Matko Meštrović, and Radoslav Putar. Taking Marcel Duchamp’s Dada as their starting point and aware of the activities of John Cage and Piero Manzoni, the members of Gorgona marked their trajectory between silent transgression, existentialism, and metaphysics through a process that embraced concretism and absurdity, the paradoxical and the immaterial. Apart from presenting individual works, the collective had no strict agenda. Their practice mainly revolved around Studio G (also known as Salon Šira) for gatherings and installations, and curated exhibitions that stood out for their minimalistic presentation. The existence of Gorgona became known within the Zagreb art milieu through the publication of an eponymous “anti-magazine,” distributed free of charge and consisting of eleven uniquely conceptualized issues published between 1961 and 1966. The group’s activities remained barely known until a first retrospective was presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 1977. Their works were later included in the 1981 Bienal de São Paulo and the 1997 Biennale di Venezia. They have participated in group exhibitions at the Ludwig Foundation in Vienna (2000), The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2006), and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2010).
  • Josip Vaništa was an influential painter, graphic designer, writer, and academic. Like the other members of the Gorgona Group, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. The dichromatic paintings produced in the 1960s stand out in their minimalism, rendered by thin horizon lines on homogeneous backgrounds. The painting Black Line on a Silver Background (1965) from the same period was the focus of the action Deposition from 1986. The performance, conceived by Vaništa and carried out together with Radoslav Putar and Marijan Jevšovar, involved leaving the painting in the snow until it gradually disappeared into the landscape. The action, progressively documented, revoked the existentialist themes of disappearance and immateriality characteristic of the Gorgona Group. Later paintings mark a return to figurative depiction and, in particular, to traditional still lifes and landscapes. Vaništa was a professor in the architecture department at the University of Zagreb until 1994. His work has been exhibited worldwide, and an extensive retrospective was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 2013.

Artworks (9)