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Anuška – A Sketch for a Portrait of a Curator

The identity of the Graphic Collective, its collective, program exclusivity and unique history, was partially created by generating both the spiritual and the material; respect for the authorship of artistic ideals, love and promotion of fellowship cultivated by affinity and empathy. Together with the artists, an integral part of this system, was developed by the gallery curators. Ana Čolak-Antić, with her creative commitment, had a strong impact on the life of this cult institution in the 1960s and 1970s. That Periclean Age coincided with many changes and innovations in the activity of the Graphic Collective. The second generation of Belgrade printmakers became active on the exhibition scene, and the architect Peđa Ristić designed the new interior of the gallery, a very practical small space whose walls were covered with wood paneling and illuminated by mirrors which captivated visitors by its originality for decades.


Leonid Šejka, Ana Čolak-Antić, Kemal Širbegović, Milan Đokić, 1968
Ana Čolak-Antić, Biljana Vuković, Inger Lise Rasmussen in the office of the Graphic Collective


Council of the Graphic Collective Gallery - Branislav Makeš, Slavoljub Čvorović, Emir Dragulj, Miloš Ćirić, Bogdan Kršić, Božidar Džmerković, Ana Čolak-Antić, 1966, photo by D. Gajer

The exhibition Anuška – A Sketch for a Portrait of a Curator (2005) paid homage to the profession of an art historian reviving the memory of the first curator of the Graphic Collective. Štefka Cobelj was the curator for a very short time before Anuška, but she left the Graphic Collective to work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, after which she continued her career in Slovenia. This unique biographical exhibition was more than a homage to one person and a profession, rather it expressed the need to cultivate tradition, continuity and highlight exemplary eternal values. Ana Čolak-Antić belonged to a selected circle of devotees to her vocation, and her contemporaries, colleagues and artists revived her creative personality, that cultivated refined ethical and aesthetic principles, with their sincere memories of her printed in the catalog of this exhibition. It included texts by: Svetlana Beca Nenadović, Vojislav Simić, Ljiljana Mihać Simović, Irina Subotić, Miodrag B. Protić, Boško Karanović, Branislav Makeš, Branko Miljuš, Pedja Ristić, Božidar Džmerković, Miodrag Nagorni, Slobodan Mašić, Slobodan Šijan, Ivanka Živković, Zoran Fehimović and Ljiljana Ćinkul. Anuška was a well educated and sensitive person brought up in a prominent Belgrade family who first affirmed herself as a fashion designer and journalist (Ukus, Bazar, Radio-Television Belgrade), but her greatest professional contribution was her work in the Graphic Collective, whose curator she was from 1960 until her untimely death in 1977. In those decades, the medium of printmaking greatly expanded, and the Graphic Collective followed, affirmed and critically problematized the situation on the art scene. Among Anuška's bold curatorial initiatives were: Olja Ivanjicki’s happenings, Šejka's one-evening exhibition, establishment of a new award for printmaking - the Big Seal of the Graphic Collective, the publication of Krug (Circle) - chronicle of the annual activity of the Graphic Collective Gallery, and the Small Monographs of the Laureates of the Big Seal Award. From the national culture perspective, the part of her life and work most often mentioned is her connection with the work of the charismatic Leonid Šejka. Namely, their companionship (in the late 1960s) coincided with the Šejka's last creative phase, which was interrupted by the artist's untimely death in 1970; Ana Čolak-Antić great gesture followed – she bequested Šejka's artwork to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade - 90 paintings, 106 drawings…




Opening of the exhibition "Anuška – A Sketch for a Portrait of a Curator", The Graphic Collective, 2005

The concept of the exhibition dedicated to Anuška was to observe the historical aspects of artistic and documentary facts where, by the nature of things, the marginal parts of the professional and the private come into contact. The spirit of the intellectual elite of the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, to which Anuška belonged, could be seen at the exhibition, where her portrait was the focal point of numerous works of art (Mirjana Mihać, Aleksandar Jeremić Cibe, Leonid Šejka, Mladen Srbinović), as in the works by artists Radomir Reljić, Bogdan Kršić, Bora Iljovski, Bojan Bem…, and in the presented documentary material (photographs, Šejka's letter, books…), which served as an additional "conductor" of ideas and ideals of that time. The exhibition dedicated to Anuška and her time also had a certain promotional character, because in addition to thematizing and accentuating her contribution to national culture, the exhibition showcased many works (from private collections) presented to the public for the first time. Miodrag B. Protić who opened the exhibition said: "The showcased works are a paradigm of the artists’ attitude towards the curator and curator’s towards art.” Certainly, this anthological remembrance of Ana Čolak Antić is more than a homage to one person, one profession and one institution.


Mirjana Mihać, Without title, around 1960, oil on canvas, 62x110 cm
Leonid Šejka, To Anuška for Her Birthday 7. X 1968. box-doors, 10.2x10.2x3.4 cm, mixed media


Mirjana Mihać, Holiday, oko 1954, oil on canvas, 75x72 cm (Anuška, Olga Bosnić, Katarina Antić Kukica and Ljiljana Mihać)
Mirjana Mihać, The Girl in Front of the Vine, oko 1950, linocut, 40x31 cm


Mirjana Mihać, Anuška and Kukica, 1954, oil on canvas, 45x34.5 cm
Leonid Šejka, Without title, 1968, oil on plywood, 20.3x22 cm

Ana Čolak Antić, born Simić (1929-1977, Belgrade), graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade (1954), with a paper on the painter Marko Čelebonović. She wrote two books, the first with Ljiljana Mihać Simović Attractive Woman (BIGZ, Belgrade, 1976) and the second Classicism in Art (Rad, Belgrade, 1960). She wrote articles, catalog prefaces and translated from French for the Yugoslav Gallery of Reproductions. As the curator of the Graphic Collective Gallery, she organized together with her associates over 500 exhibitions and was the editor of important publications and editions published by this house. She worked on the production of prints and collections of prints, as well as on expanding the Print Collection of the Graphic Collective. She established cooperation with museums Departments of Prints, institutions and individuals in order to promote and affirm printmaking in the country and abroad.

Translation from Serbian: Vanda Perović



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