MGLC 30 YEARS
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of MGLC, a question springs to mind upon the examination of historical facts (1) as to the main reason for the Biennial of Graphic Arts – which had up till then operated successfully under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Art as its constituent part – wanting to become an autonomous institution in a new location. It is quite clear from the numerous explanations and studies required to establish a new public institution that the motivation behind it entailed a moving away from an organizational and professional position within the graphic arts to a position that also included a practical and technical level of production. Among the organizers of the Biennial of Graphic Arts and the circle of artists that gathered around it, ideas clearly circulated about a special institution for the graphic arts that would be a cross between a museum and a specialized centre for production, education and publishing. There was a specific wish in the forefront to establish an experimental printmaking workshop, which was actually meant to take up the entire ground floor after the completed renovations of the mansion. The main reason, among many others probably, was therefore a need for a living arts centre that would be provided by the Biennial of Graphic Arts with a continuous circulation of artists and ideas as well as international visibility. The original vision of the founders came to fruition and MGLC became an important museum with a rich collection, a vibrant artistic centre with actively productive print studios, while at the same time remaining an internationally recognized producer of the Biennial of Graphic Arts. The Centre's thirtieth anniversary is a time for new ambitious plans: the museum of the 21st century must be a space of freedom, co-creation, giving and receiving. All this can be added to MGLC with the potential of live artistic creativity. MGLC will soon be complemented by the activities of an artist residential centre in the renovated Švicarija building, while thirty years is a period of time, after which Tivoli Mansion is once again ready for renovation. The newly renovated and easily accessible International Centre of Graphic Arts with the Švicarija residential centre will in the near future make up a complex linked into a core by location as well as programme – a new educational and social centre in the heart of Tivoli Park.
Nevenka Šivavec, MGLC Director
()The idea of a new institution, as proposed by the longstanding head of the Biennial of Graphic Arts, Zoran Kržišnik, dates back to the second half of the 1970s, when a steering committee for the construction of a centre of graphic arts was established, later becoming an action committee with a president, the high-ranking Yugoslav politician Stane Dolanc and special organizational headquarters led by cultural worker, Mitja Rotovnik. In 1979, the preliminary draft for the Graphic Centre – Tivoli Mansion was completed, which was conceived by the then head of the Faculty of Architecture, prof. Sergej Pavlin. His draft for the renovation of the mansion was fully completed in 1989. The mentioned organizational headquarters enlisted the Slovenian economy and politics to collect the necessary funds for the renovation, whereas local and foreign artists also generously took part by donating their artworks to the cause.
How colleagues remember the establishment and beginnings of MGLC
The Print Studios
The desire to establish a printmaking workshop appeared in as early as the 1950s, particularly through the need to enrich the print collection with new high-quality works by local and foreign artists. The first attempts at printing were made in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art in the 1960s but the activity did not flourish. The introductory text by the Secretary of the Biennial and the then Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Zoran Kržišnik, in the catalogue for the 9th International Exhibition of Graphic Arts from 1971, mentions Vila Bled as the most suitable place for setting up a centre, workshop, which would serve the purpose of reproducing the works of the contemporary masters of graphic art. With the consent of the policy-makers of the time, supported by the sponsorship of Slovenian companies, individual donors, artists and a selected team of employees, this ambitiously conceived project also came to fruition fifteen years later in 1986, after many years of effort and the reconstruction of Ljubljana's Tivoli Mansion.
mag. Boge Dimovski, Museum Counsellor, at MGLC since 1986
On Christmas Day thirty years ago, the City of Ljubljana established MGLC as the home of the Biennial of Graphic Arts and as a centre for the promotion and printing of fine art graphic works. The Centre received its domicile in Tivoli Mansion, to where a part of its property was moved from the Museum of Modern Art, already putting its name to the organisation of the 17th International Biennial of Graphic Arts in 1987, and opening the print studios, while the other activities of MGLC formed gradually from then on. In 1989, the first floor was renovated to house and open a gallery, with the transfer of approximately 500 prints – the heritage of the Biennial – from the depots of the Museum of Modern Art to the management of MGLC, hence establishing a base for the development of a collecting policy and the Centre's collections. MGLC received the status of a museum in 2000. This is when, along with an extensive donation of artist's books, it also began to extend the collection of art publications, which is one of the most referential collections in Central Europe. The collection, which mostly consists of fine art prints, is growing with the works of ongoing production, in addition to purchases and donations. Since 2001, it is methodically being supplemented by the works of artists that have won awards in the Biennial.
mag. Breda Škrjanec, Museum Counsellor, at MGLC since 1989
30 Years of Memories
My first day at MGLC was when I came in for a job interview in early May 1989. I had received an invitation for an interview at Tivoli Mansion at Pod turnom 3. Good God I said, where is that?! I had to find the address on the map of Ljubljana. I had no idea, even though my mum had often taken me to Tivoli, to the pond, when I was a child. But the mansion building was scary, abandoned, everything was somehow open and strange. We always avoided it. And then I came to the mansion with its huge, hard-to-open doors for a job interview. There was nothing written anywhere, everything was dusty, all the doors in the entrance hall were locked. There were prefabricated apartment walls on the first floor, where the last of the mansion's residents still lived. There were three apartments on that floor. I went a floor up as Mr Kržišnik was coming through the door on the left. I only knew him from the media and I was even a little surprised to see him there. I started the job on 15 May, about a month before the Biennial (16 June was the opening of the 18th International Biennial of Graphic Arts) and two days later the last resident moved out from the apartment, which is now the gallery. That was pretty worrying since a gallery had to be set up within a month. I remember Kržišnik being very anxious. He worried about the workers not being able to manage all the work that had to be done. But it all worked out. Zoran Kržišnik put in a lot of effort to establish the Tivoli centre. The refurbishment was sponsored, someone gave the paint, someone else the material for the electrical wiring, and so on. All the mansion's former residents received apartments. The Slovenian politician Stane Dolanc was also a great helping had to Kržišnik, they were friends.
Zmaga Šešelj, retired business secretary, at MGLC since 1989
I remember the graphic biennials of the late eighties and the early nineties. We were setting up at the Museum of Modern Art, there were prints under glass all over the place, and of course we were working all day. The teams were big, the atmosphere was great, the pace was much less stressful than it is today, and Kržišnik always saved the day when something went awry.
Generally people would always be popping by and everyone was very friendly and relaxed. There were many sponsors, there was always someone flying by for a coffee or meeting. There were loads of foreigners. We had lavish openings, they were at noon with a spread of food and drink. It was lovely! Once I had my son Gregor with me during the setting up of an exhibition, who was still a toddler then. You usually try to keep a child busy with drawing and Gregor drew the Jakopič Promenade. The drawing managed to get lost among the array of prints for the exhibition, and the curator almost exhibited this piece as well. There was much laughter to be had on that account! Now my friend, who also helped at the time, has the picture at home, and I would like to buy it from her to give it to my son for his 30th birthday.
Alenka Mikuž, administrative associate, at MGLC since 1987
When I arrived at MGLC a year after its establishment, the Centre was still in the process of being furnished, whereas work in the Print Studios began at a quick and very intensive pace. A lot of work was being made in intaglio printmaking and screen printing, and the least in lithography. Among the first to come and work in the studios were Bosnian and Croatian artists (it was still Yugoslavia then) and artists who lived farther away from Ljubljana. I think that the first artist I met was Bogdan Grom from America.
I met most of the artists through printmaking. The only one that I met later was Edo Murtić. Based on Kržišnik's recommendations of having a team that was able to do anything, Murtić sent his first piece for print – a landscape in 12 colours – by post, with instructions on how to print it. Then Leon Levar (the caretaker) took the prints to Dubrovnik by plane for the artist to sign.
In terms of time, I worked with Jože Ciuha the most. You could say that we became friends. He was torn between Ljubljana, Salzburg and Paris. We worked when he stopped over in Ljubljana, in the afternoons, weekends, public holidays, during vacation time. The Centre always adapted to the needs of the artists. After finishing work, we would often have a feast. We would sit down and celebrate. Artists love to stop by at MGLC, in the studios, not only for work, but also for help and information. We are a kind of centre of encounters.
Slavko Pavlin, printmaking master, at MGLC since 1988
The artists that made the renovations and founding of MGLC possible are Dan Allison, Marko Andlovic, Zvest Apollonio, Miroslav Arsič, Todorče Atanasov, Janez Bernik, Janez Boljka, Bogdan Borčić, Lucijan Bratuš (heirs), Jože Ciuha, Boge Dimovski, Vida Fakin, Mitja Ficko, Tomaž Gorjup, Samuel Grajfoner, Milena Gregorčič, Bogdan Grom, Toshihiro Hamano, Franz Hitzer, Goran Horvat, Drago Hrvacki, Jože Horvat Jaki, Danilo Jejčič, Andrej Jemec, Meško Kiar, Zorana de Kide, Janez Knez, Zora Koren Skerk, Bojan Kovačič, Ante Kuduz, Giani Llalloshi, Lojze Logar, Tim Long, Vladimir Makuc, Adriana Maraž, Edo Murtić, Dimče Nikolov, Polde Oblak, Valentin Oman, Freya Payne, Bill Penney, Amalija Perez Molek, Jože Peternelj, Konrad Peternelj, Veno Pilon (heirs), Rainer Plum, Concetto Pozzati, Anton Repnik, Jože Spacal, Lojze Spacal, Ljubomir Stahov, Zora Stančič, Mitja Stanek, Marija Starič Jenko, Gorazd Šefran, Gorazd Šimenko, Miroslav Šutej, Drago Tršar, Marijan Tršar, Max Uhlig, Franco Vecchiet, Vladimir Veličković, Jana Vizjak, Sašo Vrabič, Petar Waldegg, Huiquin Wang, Mehmed Zaimovič, Karel Zelenko and Giuseppe Zigaina.
The organizations that made the renovations and founding of MGLC possible are Adria Airways, Color, Elan, Emona, Ferromoto, Gorenje, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, GP Grosuplje, IMP Metall, IMV, Intereuropa, Iskra, Executive Council of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, Public Warehouses, JUB, Kemija Impex, Kompas, KP Rast, Cultural Community of Slovenia, Lek, Lesnina, LIZ, Cultural Community of Ljubljana, Mercator, Metalka, Moderna galerija, Oprema Kočevje, Petrol, Riko, SCT, Council of the City of Ljubljana, Slovenijales, Stol, Smelt, Self-Managing Community of Interests for Housing of the Municipalities and City of Ljubljana, Stenplast, Krško paper factory, Radeče paper factory, Vevče paper factory, Unitex, Velana.