Art & Documentation

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Leszek Brogowski
Margins, minima, media etc. The political meaning of conceptual art

This article focuses upon the issue of the political meaning of art. It discusses the possibility of making art political. It also attempts to define the ways in which political art functions and points out two ways: as undertaking a political topic or as a form which adopts a political meaning. The research field of the article is the period 1960-1980 when art was especially political, and conceptual art in particular. Even though conceptual art fairly rarely refers directly to politics, its political content has a deeper, philosophical character.

The article concentrates on the following aspects of art from the period 1960-1980:
1. The choice of the artist to occupy a position on the margin of society, contradicting the myth of the artist-genius, surrounded by glory, success and the recognition of society
2. The stance of the artist as the organiser of "artistic life": galleries, archives, festivals, exhibitions, etc.
3. The concept of art as a specific kind of research on reality, which would then allow art to be properly placed within a university structure and treat the teaching of it as a form of an artistic practice.
4. The analytic tendency to research media used by art.
5. Problematic issues relating to the body, which, contrary to dominating models, is present in many conceptual art projects.
6. The self-reflective stance of the artist towards art, a stance that aims to criticise the term and to confront the social artistic practice, which was a feature of artistic conflict during the period 1960-1980.

The conclusion points out one particular and at the same time, typical form of conceptual art which was the artist's book. This kind of book is political by its form and is an example of making discourse political by the way art acts, not necessarily by undertaking a political discussion.

Natalia Andrzejewska
The Museum of Józef Szajna and synthesis of the arts: documentation relating to the context of multi-media works of art - the protection of his ideas

The preservation of the identity of a complex work of modern art is a difficult challenge for the curator and conservator. The aim of this text is to demonstrate the preservation of a complex work of modern art, through the documentation of its context. The case study concerns the environment Replika created by Józef Szajna in 1971. The preparation of the documentation of the object is preceded by research intended to investigate and define the full significance of this sort of Gesamkunstwerk.

The work of Szajna is an example of Total Art. The concept of his environment involves the combination of the material artwork and its message (including the use of readymades), the creation of a theatrical space with the use of lighting and a special atmosphere. The entire combination of the work is necessary in case of its re-exhibition.

Conservation through documentation is a solution to the problem of maintaining the authenticity of a work of art which displays features of a Gesamtkunstwerk. In the past museums or galleries were collections of material objects, while today they are collections of works of art distant from the traditional "fine arts" disciplines: hybrid, comprehensive works of art, including those partially or entirely ephemeral. This problem is followed by the issue of the presentation of works of art in a way which includes the ideological and social context and the Artist’s creative individuality.

A lot has been achieved throughout the last decade as far as the issue of documentation of works of art integrating various media is concerned. The issue, however, is still a challenge for a conservator-curator. The documentation procedures are facilitated thanks to the creation of various initiatives' networks and further development of models, standards and tools as well as by the organisation of training sessions. The documentation forms that include various strategies for the protection of interdisciplinary and ephemeral works of art (reconstruction, re-enactment, emulation and reinterpretation) gradually enter the repertoire of methods used to protect world cultural heritage.

The language of Szajna's art gives full expression to this artist's total creative personality. The moment when a work of art that integrates various media is displayed again is a key test for the effectiveness of its protection strategies. This problem is followed by the issue of the presentation of an artwork in a way which includes the ideological and social context and the artist’s creative individuality.

The documentation programs developed by scientists, conservators and artists show the ways to display works of a complex nature, connected with a given space and which aim to engage the viewer. The reception and interaction of the viewer must lead first to the emotional and then the intellectual levels. Its role in fulfilling the meaning of the work leads the viewer through free interpretation. In phenomenological interpretations, the reaction of the viewer is a component element of the work. Therefore is it important that the complex and multi-componential works are each time re-installed in accordance with the original intention of the author which is expressed in the documentation. In my work as conservator and curator I wish to show the necessity of treating the work and the means of preserving its integrity in an homogeneous manner.

Natalya Kostiv
Special Features of Iconography in the Artistic Work of Juvenaly Mokrystskyy and Jerzy Nowosielski: Philosophical and Theological Aspects

This article deals with the artistic work of two iconographers: Juvenaly Mokrystskyy, a monk belonging to the Studite order who was born in Lviv, and Jerzy Nowosielski, who was born in Krakow. Both artists are vivid representatives of sacred art from the second half of the 20th century. The works of these artists are kept in many European countries and also in the USA. In particular, the iconography by J. Mokrystskyy can be found in Greek Catholic temples in England, Italy, Germany, Argentina, USA, Canada, and Ukraine. The works by J. Nowosielski are situated in Catholic and Orthodox temples in Poland, Germany, France and also in private collections.

This article deals with the interpretation of philosophical and theological themes within the icons of Juvenaly Mokrystskyy and Jerzy Nowosielski. The influence of Byzantine art which is reflected in the iconographers’ artistic individualities, is also analysed. Despite the differences, which occur in the icons of the two artists, many similar stylistic features can be found in their art. Biographic data and facts that influenced the development of the individual styles of the two artists are also considered in the article: for example the experience of visiting of the Museum named after Andrey Sheptytsky in Lviv and the events of the Second World War.

Examples of the work of the two artists are considered and in addition, the basic directions in icon painting that prevailed in the second half of the 20th century and remain relevant until now.

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