It was the novel ways of comprehending the structure and the meaning of a work of art, based on mental and post-aesthetic attributes, as well as the emergence of a broader social and spiritual atmosphere, that had conditioned the newest developments and opened up the way to a better understanding of a whole range of artistic processes. In Zagreb, the phenomena to which this general comment refers include some examples of Radical Art informel that appeared between 1956 and 1962 and all the activities of the group named Gorgona (‘Gorgon’), which was active between 1959 and 1966.
The Concept of a ‘Yugoslav Art Space’
The concept of a ‘Yugoslav art space’ denotes the geographic area and political environment in which the polycentric and decentralised, yet at the same time unified, and shared, art life of the ‘Second Yugoslavia’ (1945-1991) was maintained. It was polycentric and decentralised, because it consisted of several cultural milieux and their capitals, i.e. the republics of the former country which have meanwhile become independent states; unified and shared in common, for it was interlinked by numerous personal and institutional ties between the many active participants in Yugoslavia’s art scene of the time.
In contemporary European art, the concept of Art informel implies a complex which goes beyond one particular school, movement or ‘style’: actually, that is a 'state of mind', characteristic of the situation in the early post-war years, when the atmosphere was transformed and gradually altered the whole complexion of the 1950s.
Anyone fortunate enough, closely to have monitored the birth and development of Arte Povera, to have witnessed Kounellis’ live horses and Merz’s igloos displayed at the Galleria L’Attico in Rome, in early 1969, to have listened to Beuys retelling the legend of his life, to have read and leafed through Celant’s book, with its illustrations of Land Art, Anti-Form, ‘Poor’ and Conceptual Art, and to have heard about Szeemann's exhibition in Berne, When Attitudes Become Form, could not fail to be tempted to go along with Renato Barilli’s prediction that future art historians, discussing the history of 20th-century art, would divide the entire period into two halves - the age preceding, and the age following the critical year, 1968.