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Graphic Design - from Kontakt to Grifon

Graphic design produced within the framework of the Graphic Collective can be traced back to the early exhibitions in the 50s and 60s, through the Kontakt (Eng. Contact) manifestation of the 70s and 80s, which was finally renewed in collaboration with Quadra Graphic as Grifon (Eng. Griffin) in 1996, thus continuing the biennial evaluation of graphic design produced in Yugoslavia, and later on in Serbia, Republika Srpska and Montenegro.


Kontakt was first initiated by Bogdan Kršić, Miloš Ćirić and Slobodan Mašić in 1971, and is considered today to be one of the pioneering manifestations devoted to mapping the accomplishments in graphic design in the cultural space of Yugoslavia. Apart from the Belgrade team, Radoslav Putar, design critic and theorist from Zagreb, played an important role in the project. During the 80s, Kontakt was an annual exhibition devoted to affirming and exchanging ideas concerning what was, at that time, a relatively new field of applied graphics within the wider context of visual arts produced in the region.
The exhibitions were accompanied by lectures and discussions on design as a form of art which integrates the relations of art, society, living/working space, the economy and mass production. During the first few years, Kontakt mostly represented the works of artists from Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana, especially those of substantial creative individuals such as Slobodan Mašić, Mihajlo Arsovski, Ivan Picelj, Peter Skalar, Janez Suhadolc, and Matjaž Vipotnik. The number of participants from other art centers started growing in 1975, when artists such as Balint Sombati from Novi Sad, Mile Grozdanić, Saveta Mašić, Nenad Čonkić and Dragan Stojanovski from Belgrade, Sanja Iveković, Brane Horvat (Studio S) and Mitja Koman from Zagreb joined the exhibition. In his summary of the efforts of Yugoslav graphic designers represented in the Kontakt exhibition of 1975, Bogdan Tirnanic wrote: “... in our region, graphic design is the primary space for experimenting with a new form of communication, both between man and space, and between people within a space: it is as if la civilisation de l’image confirms its advantages during March every year in the Graphic Collective Gallery.”


The project was renewed in the beginning of the 80s (1983-1986), and the team - Kršić, Ćirić, Mašić - focused on new artistic phenomena, broadening the critical and theoretical discourse of design. Each of the three manifestations of that decade was devoted to a certain area of graphic design - package labelling, typography, newspapers and magazines, postcards, tickets, etc.
In 1983 the exhibition was devoted to daily newspapers and entitled “Yugoslavian reality on the front covers of Yugoslavian daily newspapers and their ad sections”; the 1984. Kontakt was all about affirming typography; the 1985. edition’s topic was “Container” and the concept behind the 1986. exhibition focused on the printmaking production of 22 Yugoslav cities.
Trying to contextualize the importance Kontakt had in the history of graphic design in the region, Gordana Popović Vasić wrote that those 15 years brought about the new generations of graphic designers who continued to create vital works, balancing the artform’s aesthetic values and tasks of functionality.
The next issue of The Binoculars of the Graphic Collective will continue along these lines, going more into the history of Grifon.
(translation: Dunja Karanović)





Graphic Collective Gallery, Dragoslava Jovanovića 11, Belgrade, Weekdays 12 - 20h, Saturdays 12 - 17h, Sundays closed
tel: +381.11.3285.923; tel/fax: +381.11.2627.785