WEDNESDAY, 30 June 2021

ANDREAS NIERHAUS, Museum of the City of Vienna, Austria

Keynote lecture: Modern – Baroque: State Representation, Nation-Building and the Visual Arts in Austria 1898–1938

The lecture sheds light on the continuities and breaks in state representation and art politics in Austria between the last years of the Habsburg monarchy and the annexation into Nazi Germany in 1938 alongside major national and international exhibitions, from the Jubilee exhibition and the opening of the Vienna Secession building in 1898 to the Paris World’s Fair in 1937. Within this context, the terms „modern” and “baroque”, as used in the title of the lecture, are not put into opposition, but are rather seen as two closely intertwined and at the same time contradictory traces of artistic discourse and political instrumentalization: at the exhibition in Vienna 1898 modernism was celebrated as a “new style” to represent the state, whereas two years later in Paris the Empire erected a “typical austrian” baroque palace that housed interiors in the style of the Secession. In contrast, the following international presentations (Rome 1911, Cologne 1914, Paris 1925) showcased Austria as a pioneering state for modern architecture, painting and the arts and crafts. The young republic after 1918 was still in search of an identity of its own, when it was replaced by the authoritarian “Ständestaat” (corporate state) in 1934, which put itself in opposition to the Third Reich. Now, official art politics relied again on the baroque tradition, thus interpreted as the real basis of modern Austrian culture – a concept that would be taken up again after 1945. What becomes visible here, especially when compared to the other “successor states” of the Habsburg monarchy, is a complex “baroque modernity” that characterizes the process of nation-building in Austria in the interwar period and beyond.

Andreas Nierhaus studied Art History and History at the University of Vienna. From 2005 to 2008 he worked at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, since 2008 he is curator for architecture at the Wien Museum (Museum of the City of Vienna), since 2017 also curator for sculpture. In 2019, he held a visiting professorship at the University of Frankfurt/Main. His curatorial work includes major exhibitions such as „Werkbundsiedlung Wien 1932“ (2012), „Der Ring. Pionierjahre einer Prachtstraße“ (2015) „Otto Wagner“ (2018) and „Richard Neutra“ (2020). Upcoming exhibitions will feature the work of the viennese Bauhaus designers Franz Singer and Friedl Dicker (2022) and baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach (2023). His research and publications focus on the history of architecture since 1800, Otto Wagner and his school, architecture and the media, architectural drawings and architectural photography as well as the relationship between architecture and sculpture. Recent publications: „Ein Architekt als Medienstratege. Otto Wagner und die Fotografie“, Salzburg 2020; „Los Angeles Modernism Revisited. Häuser von Neutra, Schindler, Ain und Zeitgenossen“, Zurich 2019; „Otto Wagner“ (editor, together with Eva-Maria Orosz), Salzburg 2018.


THURSDAY,  1 July 2021

MIRKO ILIĆ, graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist

Keynote lecture: Subversive Design and the Decoding of State Discourses in East and West

The Yugoslav policy of open borders, market socialism and favourable economic development in the 1960s opened the door for the influx of western popular culture, while a gradual liberalisation led to cultural and, to a certain extent, political pluralism. The situation temporarily changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s when political turmoil in Croatia and Serbia resulted in considerably strong control over culture by the communist party. The control again weakened in the second half of the 1970s, and especially in the 1980s. This allowed artistic criticism of the regime, which was particularly strong in the 1980s at the time of the economic crisis that significantly lowered living standards in most parts of Yugoslavia.

Insight into the ways in which an artist coped with these socio-cultural and political tendencies, popular and liberal and at the same time controlling and censorial, will be given in the presentation by Mirko Ilić, a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist. His career in Yugoslavia spanned the period between the early 1970s, when he created his first works and 1986, the year when he moved to New York, his present home and place of work. In that period, there were several occasions when Ilić had to face censorship of his work, which led him to develop different subversion tactics. As a member of the Novi kvadrat art collective and a member of the new wave generation and punk subculture, he interpreted contemporary social reality in his works. His subversion of public media, such as youth publications and fanzines, and graphic designs for the music industry helped to shape the iconography of everyday life for a generation that developed a rebellious and radical attitude to the regime. In comic books and illustrations, LP covers, and front pages of then popular magazines such as Danas, Start, Pitanja, Polet and Studentski list, he creatively toyed with the codes of both popular and official culture. He also playfully referred in his designs to otherwise untouchable people from Yugoslav political life, president Tito for example, pointing out the political and economic crisis in the country. In the late 1970s and during 1980s, he artistically dealt with the topics of Goli Otok (the infamous prison for persons considered the greatest enemies of the Yugoslav communist regime), police repression, the corruption of the communist establishment, and the stratification of communist society in which some individuals began to accrue considerable wealth.

In addition to his own production while living and working in Yugoslavia, Ilić will also show in his presentation the ways in which he and other artists from ex-communist countries and the USA developed personal subversion strategies within different political regimes, thereby illustrating the complex relationships between the states and artists, and the state and art in general.

Mirko Ilić is a graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist. He graduated from the School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb in 1976. The same year, he became the editor of comics and illustrations for Polet magazine and the following year, he founded the Novi kvadrat group of cartoonists. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked as an illustrator in the Start magazine (1978-1985), as a graphic designer at the &TD Theater, and worked on a number of design commissions for LP covers. Between 1982 and 1985, he authored more than 150 covers of the political weekly Danas in collaboration with the photographer Luka Mjeda, with whom he founded SLS Studio (Slow, bad, expensive). He moved to the United States in 1986 and has worked as an illustrator for numerous magazines and newspapers. In 1991, he became the art director of Time Magazine for which he achieved a number of award-winning covers, while in 1992  he became the art director of the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times. The following year, Ilić and Alejandro Arce founded Oko & Mano, a studio for design and illustration, 3D graphics and animation. In 1995, he started working independently in the newly founded Mirko Ilić Corp studio, and has since created a number of internationally recognized designs for diverse organizations and companies. In the 2000s, he worked on a number of commissions in Croatia, and participated as an exhibitor and/or jury member at design events and exhibitions. His works today form collections of the Smithsonian Museum, SFMOMA in San Francisco, MoMA in New York. He has held advanced design classes at Cooper Union with Milton Glaser, and taught illustration to graduate students of the School of Visual Arts in New York City.