The Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts Through The Poster

6 August − 3 December 2015

NLB Gallery Avla

opening 6 August 11 a. m.

Nowadays, as we are surrounded by images and messages displayed on various media, the poster, as the oldest form of visual communication, has already been pushed aside. The history of the poster is closely connected with invention and development of print and it flourished with development of industrial and consumerist society. The poster, which conveys cultural and artistic messages, reached its peak at the turn of the 20th century. Today such a poster is more than anything else a collectable and it no longer pursues its basic mission, which is attracting crowds to arts and culture events. Now collections of posters make it possible for us to follow and interpret cultural and historical events.

The Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is an event that has chosen not to abandon the poster, even though the organiser is fully aware of its value, which is now somewhat cultural and historical rather than communicational. An overview of the Biennial through its posters is at the same time an overview of historical developments, tastes over time, and also the development of local graphic design.

This year it has been 60 years since the 1st international graphic exhibition was organised under the baton of a nine-member Organisation Committee, presided by France Stele. Secretary General at the time was Zoran Kržišnik, who later became its spiritual leader. It is evident from the minutes of the Organisation Committee that they set the framework and structure of the exhibition, criteria and technical rules for the exhibitors and the scope of visual communications to accompany the exhibition. At their second meeting they decided that a bilingual catalogue and poster would come along with the exhibition. Riko Debenjak started working on the poster, and a wood engraving Dance of Kurent, carnival figures from Ptuj, made by France Mihelič, was later selected as its leading graphic. It was printed in 500 copies and a Pablo Picasso’s graphic found its way to the cover of the catalogue due to the set of circumstances at the time. (Picasso's graphics arrived at the exhibition at the last moment, when the catalogue was already placed in the press, so the Committee decided at its 12th meeting to put a reproduction of a Picasso’s graphic on the cover, which was initially supposed to feature a graphic by Miha Maleš.)

From the first to the eighth international graphic arts exhibition, the process of making a poster was based on an invitation sent out to the artists to outline it. Ivan Picelj’s poster for the 5th international exhibition most likely broke with tradition because it was so different from previous posters. It was no longer a reproduction of an artwork laced with typography of letters, but a contemporary graphic design transmitting visual communication about this particular art event. Next year the Committee invited Jože Brumen to participate and the way he saw the visual image of the entire exhibition was so elemental, that he created both the poster and the catalogue cover (by reproducing a Riko Debenjak), and he also made a logotype by building upon the design of the previous Picelj’s posters. Since 1969 the poster and the cover of the catalogue represented a part of the Biennial design, which was practically always based on a concrete graphic arts collection, and after 1975 on a graphic of one of the award-winning artists from the previous Biennial. After 1971 the Biennial posters were therefore based on graphics by Janez Bernik, Adriana Maraž, Tetsuya Noda, Andrej Jemec, Lojze Logar, Dan Allison, Günther Uecker and other. This convention was interrupted by the 24th International Biennial of Graphic Arts in the new millennium, which revived the exhibition by challenging its structure, internal organisation, relations with the local and international public and the performance of the curator, and also by bringing a new promotional approach with new designs and tools unifying the visual identity of this event. Same as the difference in the concept of future Biennials, a constantly changing design by a different designers or a group of designers who were allowed to use visuals as they saw fit has also become its regular feature. Art graphics as the basis for visual communication has disappeared from the poster, replaced by graphic elements composing the visual identity of each upcoming event.

mag. Breda Škrjanec

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ARCHIVE

You are invited to view the film "Am I a manager? Yes, I am."

Živa Škodlar Vujić, a long-time curator of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, and Mitja Rotovnik, the first director of Cankarjev dom, who professionally and personally followed the efforts of his friend Zoran Kržišnik, shared their views and memories in a short documentary about the international involvement of the Slovenian art scene. Their account takes us through the extremely dynamic period of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when Ljubljana became a cosmopolitan cultural centre. These events are illuminated from a cultural and historical perspective by Aleš Gabrič, who talks in the film about, among other things, the development of the managerial mentality in Slovenia and the importance of international cultural events, which distinguish cultural goings-on in Slovenia to this day.

From the MGLC Collection

Jo-ey Tang, The Manual
(Morava Books 14, 2012)
Collection of Art Publications

An FBI manual becomes a book of poetry, together with original microscopic and infrared images. The sculpted text is a meditation of surface and the infinitesimal space above and beneath the surface in the search for evidence.

Jo-ey Tang enacts the circulation and absence of images and objects, as well as the life cycle of ideas. The work takes on various forms of photography, video, sculpture, painting, sound, text and “self-assigned tasks”, spans over many exhibitions and is often seen as both the same and new work, in a constant process of building up and cancelling out. The publication was awarded first prize in the ROOKIE competition (June 2012, www.r-o-o-k-i-e.com), organised by City Gallery Arsenal, Poznań and Morava Publishing House.

The booklet comes in a hardback cover with 64 unpaginated pages and is offset printed in a circulation of 350 copies.

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Milton Glaser, Dylan (1966, offset)
Collection of Art Publications

The story of this poster, which was an insert on Dylan's 1967 album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, goes as follows. After suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1966, the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was bedridden and rumoured to be dead. To generate positive publicity for his forthcoming album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, CBS Records commissioned Milton Glaser to design a special poster to be included with the album. Glaser depicted the singer in profile, with his abundant curly hair rendered in saturated colours that stand out from the background. The intense, almost psychedelic colours can also be seen as the spirit of the time and the flower power generation from the second half of the 1960s.

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Photo: Jaka Babnik. MGLC Archive.

International Museum Day at MGLC

Tuesday, 18 May, 10.00-21.00
free of charge

You are invited to view and join in the following exhibitions and events!

Invader, Prints on Paper
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

EVENT
17.00–18.00 
Guided tour of the exhibition: Prints on Paper, conducted by Mitja Velikonja, PhD
To take part in the guided tour, bookings must be made at: trgovina@mglc-lj.si

Sonja Vulpes, Limbo
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

ONLINE
We have prepared a short film about the artist's creative process.

The Stojan Batič Memorial Studio
10.00–18.00
Permanent display at Švicarija

EVENT
Brane Zorman: The Spirit of the Trees | Touch
20.00
In front of Švicarija

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Photo: Urška Boljkovac. MGLC Archive.