May 25, 2017 - MUSEION of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano - Július Koller: One Man Anti Show
May 25, 2017

MUSEION of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano

Július Koller, P.F. 1981, 1980. Xerox on paper. Photo: Archiv / archive Květoslava Fulierová.

Július Koller
One Man Anti Show
May 19–August 27, 2017

MUSEION of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano
Piazza Piero Siena, 1
39100 Bolzano
Italy
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm

www.museion.it
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Július Koller
One Man Anti Show
May 19–August 27, 2017

MUSEION of Modern and Contemporary Art Bolzano
Piazza Piero Siena, 1
39100 Bolzano
Italy
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm,
Thursday 10am–10pm

www.museion.it
Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Museion, in cooperation with mumok — Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien and the Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, presents the largest ever retrospective devoted to Július Koller (Piestany, Slovakia, 1939–Bratislava, 2007). Koller was one of the most important Eastern European artists working from the 1960s onwards and his art had, and continues to have, considerable international significance.

Based on painstaking research into his work and archives, the exhibition documents Koller's independent contribution to the neo-avantgarde, highlighting both his conceptual precision, and the wide range of artistic methods he used. Alongside internationally renowned pieces, the show presents many works, archival documents and ephemera that have never previously been exhibited. A number of conceptual photographs by the Slovak artist also connect his solo show with the current exhibition of photographic works from the Museion collection, The Force of Photography.

Koller's work developed in critical distance to the communist authorities and their official art, and it also questions traditions in modernism and the conventions of the Western art business. His strategy involves using everyday life to undermine aesthetic ideals, aiming ultimately to create a “new cultural situation” intended to lead to a “new life, a new creativity, and a new cosmohumanist culture.”

In the mid-1960s, using a deliberately amateur modus operandi, far removed from the dominant academicism of professional modernist art, Koller produced his first manifesto, Antihappening. In opposition to the formalism of the neo-avantgarde, he declared that his activities in various spheres of public and private life were to be viewed as art. He used and circulated the concept of the antihappening in telegrams and franked postcards, and it became a fundamental statement that featured throughout his career.

Koller saw tennis and table tennis as participatory art forms, drawing tennis courts on postcards, sketching out court lines using chalk and inviting his audience to table tennis tournaments rather than exhibitions. Connecting sport with political statement, he asserted the importance of keeping to the rules and fair play, as the basis of all social action, a notion that is more topical than ever today. The exhibition in Museion features a restaging of one of Koller’s legendary action environments: the J.K. Ping-Pong Club (1970), where both professionals and amateurs can play a round or two and exchange opinions and positions in an atmosphere of fair play.  

From 1970 onwards Koller began to shift his focus away from sport and towards linguistics, and defining a more profound, utopian vision. His performative “Universal Futurological Operations (U.F.O.),” with their codified “objects,” “orientations,” and “organisations” represent the system the artist used to define his mode of communication, in which all contacts become an urge to document and archive the world. Over the next three decades he created an essential nucleus of works, a “self-chronology” in which he himself became the subject of a series of annual portraits: U.F.O.-naut J.K. (1970–2007).

His radical-sceptical stance towards reality and everyday life underpins his use of the question mark, which appears in pictures and object-images in white latex. The term UmeNie (no art) also appears continuously in telegrams, postcards and his anti-paintings, expressing rejection as a modus operandi, distancing his artistic practice from any kind of formalism and underlining his opposition to the contemporary art scene and the authorities.

The exhibition lay-out designed by the Vienna architect Hermann Czech draws on Koller's original artistic lexicon and his systematic use of it. Czech's design highlights the open, transformative nature of the objects and actions that were a decisive element in the artist's practice.

The curators of the exhibition Július Koller. One Man Anti Show were awarded the “ART-Kuratorenpreis” for the show in 2016.

Catalogue (EN/DE) published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König in Köln.

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One Man Anti Show
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