(September 2019)

As the Cold War gained momentum in Europe, Tito’s break with Stalin led to Yugoslavia being expelled from the Cominform in 1948. Confronted with this new reality, the Yugoslav government decided to bridge the indeterminacy of its cultural politics through a creative strategy: it commissioned young artists and architects to draft the aesthetics of a non-Soviet form of socialism. Guided by abstraction and the idiom of modernism, four friends and later founders of the EXAT 51 collective—Vjenceslav Richter, Ivan Picelj, Zvonimir Radi?, and Aleksandar Srnec—gave shape to this endeavor. At the onset of the 1950s, they produced exhibitions at home as well as developed Yugoslav pavilions for trade fairs in the West, already arguing the case for the possibility of a non-aligned socialism. Agents of Abstraction frames this liaison of socialist cultural politics and modernist artistic practice by interlinking ideas of decentralization, experiments in state-funded arts and architecture, non-representational forms, and self-reliance. The cultural and geopolitical contexts the book revisits from a new perspective are accompanied by rare visual material, much of which appears in print for the first time.

Publisher: Sternberg Press Berlin

Edited by Jill Winder
Language: English
Pages: 400
ISBN: 978-3-95674-57-5