Magazine article Artforum International

Jan Kotik: Jiri Svestka Berlin

Magazine article Artforum International

Jan Kotik: Jiri Svestka Berlin

Article excerpt

Why are we so in love with the art of the 1960s and '70s? Maybe because in our times of nostalgia and ironic detachment, it promises to satisfy a very contemporary desire for authenticity. Artists from that period, we feel, were exploring, not revisiting; their formal experiments were original, driven by an urgency that was fed by a belief in aesthetic, social, and political transformation. Maybe something of this utopian drive lives on in certain recent manifestations of what might be called social sculpture, but in the more object-based forms of contemporary art, this spirit seems to be lost.

This might be one reason why Jan Kotik's oeuvre from the '70s is so compelling, even though the phrase "object-based" isn't quite adequate here. A large part of Kotik's artistic project was devoted to altering the notions of painting and drawing and to abolishing the hand of the artist. Therefore, many of his works come with--or rather, come in the form of--instructions and sketches, texts and drawings, usually mounted on black cardboard, to be carried out by others: for instance, the sparse, untitled installation conceived in 1978, but unrealized until this exhibition, a decade after the artist's death, consisting of a white wooden slat placed in front of a delicate rectangular wall drawing. Another newly realized work, this one conceived by the artist in 1976, is made of eight earth-colored strings that seem to be knotted to a piece of thread that, on closer inspection, turns out to be a line of chalk. Moving line, 1972, however, plays with the reverse effect: The gently meandering pencil line is, in fact, made out of a strand of cotton wool.

Kotik's works often seem to deceive the eye just when they are really at their most straightforward. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.