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THROUGH THE BINOCULARS OF THE GRAPHIC COLLECTIVE - MAPPING HISTORY


Printmaking Club - ARTA


Since the Graphic Collective was founded in 1949, each year in the life of this house of artists (and first NGO in the region) has been filled with the youthful energy of its innovative founders. First there was a printmaking workshop, then from 1952 a Gallery and a collection, and in 1952 the Collective started creating contacts with similar initiatives in other countries. This was an intense creative period in which the Graphic Collective was a leading actor in the promotion of fine art printmaking on the local art scene. Collaborating with arta, an organization from Zurich was part of this effort. In 1954, a branch of the Printmaking Club arta was founded in Belgrade. According to its records, the club helped to create “a direct contact between the artist and the audience, creating an opportunity for both workers and intellectuals to bring high-quality fine art prints to their homes for reasonable prices… it promoted Yugoslavian printmaking and exchange opportunities for artists from different countries…” (1) Arta brought together printmaking admirers who could afford to collect the works of Yugoslavian and foreign printmakers. In the first two years, the number of members rose to 300, and the society Friends of Printmaking arta was registered, with an official statute, Board, Council and one employee working in the administration. Afterwards, the Society got a space from AFAS for exhibiting its collection in the Terazije Gallery. Živka Pajić, the printmaker, was managing arta. The membership regulations for artists and friends were soon established. The Council selected works of Yugoslavian printmakers which were printed in editions of 200. Every artist agreed to give their first selected work as a gift for arta’s collection, all members paid a yearly membership fee and promised to buy at least two prints per year. Soon, six other countries started doing the same - Italy, Austria, Germany, Colombia, Israel and Spain, as well as the organization Igas in New York. The national branches collaborated through the Swiss arta in Zurich. The standardized catalogue had reproductions of all the selected works with basic information about the author, work and the price. Prints were ordered through the catalogue in all of the member countries, based on a shared agreement to exchange prints. This way, members of arta could collect prints from foreign artists in the same way they collected Yugoslavian artists’ works. During the 14 years arta was active (until 1968), the address book had 1000 members. (2) In this period, 104 works from 49 artists were printed in editions coming up to around 20.000 prints, half of which were exchanged for prints from abroad.


           


An exhibition of arta’s collection was held in the Graphic Collective in 1982, in an effort to renew some of those ideas and present them to new generations. In October 1999, the exhibition “arta 1954-1968” was held, on which occasion Boško Karanović shared some of his memories of arta:

“Armin Grossenbacher founded arta in 1937, and managed it with his wife for 55 years. Thanks to his efforts, arta has retained its original idea for six decades, and it remains the same today. Remembering Armin Grossenbacher is an opportunity to go back to how we came to the idea of founding arta in the Graphic Collective. I met A. Grafo-Burken, a true admirer of printmaking, in the home of Božidar Jakac. He told me about arta in Zurich. By the end of 1953 I travelled to Switzerland and met mr. Grossenbacher. The meeting was a lucky start and in the next days I was already printing my first lithographs for arta in the Wolfsberger printing workshop, with the help of master lithographer mr. Mayer. That first work meeting was the beginning of beautiful friendships, meetings and correspondences. I came to know the details about arta, the work and organizational structure, and brought back these ideas to Belgrade and to the Graphic Collective. The idea came to life in our small circle and arta was founded.”

(1) Quote from an arta catalogue
(2) One of the reasons arta was closed after 14 years was its move to Delijska street, as well as the financial model. The other branches closed down around the same time, while the one in Switzerland is still working today.

Translation from Serbian: Dunja Karanović



     

           

-Photos of the exhibition "Print of Time - Fragments from History", Graphic Collective, 2018: left - prints from the Arta Collection (authors: Kosta Angeli Radovani, Slobodan Pejović, Bogdan Kršić, Ferdinand Kulmer); right - publications of arta.
-Prints from the Arta Collection, authors: Boris Anastasijević, Karel Zelenko, Ankica Oprešnik, Vesna Borčić.

 

 

 
 
 
 
   
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