• Probe 1 – The Story of Slovak (Post)Conceptual art
    12 Dec 2018 − 24 March 2019

    Prague City Gallery / Stone Bell House Curated by: Vlado Beskid and Jakub Král Loans by Kontakt: Ján Mančuška, Julius Koller, Stano Filko, Roman Ondak The exhibition will introduce Czech public into one of the crucial tendencies found in modern and contemporary Slovak art. It will focus on the origination and development of Conceptual and post-Conceptual Art within the horizon of the past fifty years in Slovakia, i.e. from the alternative, unofficial scene of the 1960s to the post-1989 legal artistic platform. The oeuvres of two generations of artists, such as Viktor Frešo, Jozef Jankovič, Anetta Mona Chisa & Lucia Tkáčová, Martin Kochan, Július Koller, Marek Kvetan, Ján Mančuška, Roman Ondák, Boris Ondreička, Monogramista T.D, Rudolf Sikora, Pavla Sceranková, Peter Rónai and Jaro Varga, will serve to present particular forms of Conceptual artistic morphology, as it was shaped by the new aesthetic criteria with their codes, in the context of time. The exhibition, held as a specific contribution to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the existence of Czechoslovakia, will go hand in hand with interventions by several Czech artists (Jan Brož, Alice Nikitinová, Vít Soukup, Pavel Sterec, Antonín Střížek, Michaela Thelenová) who will loosely contextualize selected historical, social, economic and world-view facets of our history. Their main subject of interest is the transformations of the internal social paradigm, presented the loss of the utopian outreach of our thinking in connection with the declining big ideologies.

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In his "Contact Portraits", Manfred Willmann composes head portraits of famous colleagues one generation older than himself such as Duane Michals, Les Krims and Ralph Gibson by putting together images from a 35 mm film contact print. Beneath each of these “contact portraits,” one of the partial photos, always an excerpt from the face, is mounted in its original contact-print size. This form reveals Willmann’s dual interest: what may seem like one of the countless repetitions of conceptual art—the reference to the material and technical apparatus of photography and the material which it produces (viewfinder, film, film format, darkroom, photo, post-processing, etc.), the concrete game with sign operations of the semiotics-obsessed 1960s and 70s—is recontextualized and, as it were, subjectivized via its being enlarged. The individual images from the contact prints— a nose, a mouth, an eye, hair—lose their purely abstract nature and become miniature physiognomic character studies. Sometimes there is in fact no detail, but rather a situational portrait which is mounted beneath the contact print in its contact-print size; the word “contact” in the portraits’ title here refers not only to the contact print (in other words, the print which is created by backlighting a film strip in its original size as it is placed upon photographic paper), but also the contact of young photographers with the first generation of New Photography masters.

  • Artist: Manfred Willmann
  • Original Title: Kontaktportrait Les Krims
  • English Title: Contact Portrait Les Krims
  • Year: 1976
  • Material: b&w photograph
  • Dimensions: Original Size: 60 x 50 cm (23 5/8 x 19 11/16 in.)
  • Inventory no.: K242
  • Category: photography
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