Untitled consists of a wooden block wrapped in black paper, onto which a black and white photographic image has been stuck. The image shows an exhibition of Krasinski’s works which took place in 1965 in the Krzysztofory Gallery in Kraków (reproduced in Breitwieser, pp.130–1). A stiff, painted wire flex has been placed over one corner of the block and pinned into place. The wire extends from where it is pinned in both directions and is shaped, forming curves. It has been painted so that from the middle section, which is white, it gradually becomes grey and then finally black at both ends. In the exhibition Edward Krasinki: Les Mises en scène, Generali Foundation, Vienna in 2006, the work was part of an installation of similar objects and it was displayed on a plinth (reproduced in Breitweiser, p.327). This is also how it was first displayed in 1968, at the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw (of which Krasinski was one of the founders). Krasinski often re-used objects he produced in the 1960s and 1970s in subsequent installations.
The photograph applied onto the block was taken by the Foksal Gallery’s photographer Eustachy Kossakowski (1925–2001). Krasinksi’s integration of this photograph – of a previous installation of his own work – points to what critic Pawel Polit refers to as Krasinski’s ‘archival impulse’ (Breitwieser, p.65). For a retrospective at the Foksal Gallery in 1984, Krasinski exhibited images of objects, including T12559, displayed as a series of ten black and white photographs, joined together by his infamous blue Scotch tape (a reconstruction of the exhibition is reproduced in Breitwieser, p.334–5). As the curator Adam Szymczyk has commented:
Krasinski holds photographers in great esteem – it is they who are the true artists – and often uses their work in his pieces. There is another dimension owing to which photography can find foothold in Krasinski’s activities, blending in to the extent that we cannot tell whether what we see is artistic photography, photographs of the artist (at work or next to a work), or a regular photograph documenting the artist’s work.
(Quoted in Breitwieser, p.89.)
The wires extending out from the object not only connect it potentially to any surrounding objects, but gesture towards its infinite extension, as in the work J’AI PERDU LA FIN 1989 (the French title translates as ‘I Have Lost the End’, reproduced in Breitwieser, p.10), in which Krasinski is pictured with a tangle of wire around his neck. The interruptions to this infinite extension – the breaks in the wire – are here painted in black, but in other objects they are often painted in red (T12560 and T12567). This creates a dynamic tension between the points of rupture. Krasinski’s use of paint on his objects also distinguishes his appropriative gestures from, for example, the appropriation of ready-made objects by the Nouveau réalisme group in Paris, founded in 1960 by the art critic Pierre Restany.
Born in Łuck in the Ukraine, Krasinski studied Applied Arts and Fine Arts in Krakow, and began his career in the 1960s as a surrealist painter. In the early 1970s, he moved into Henryk Stazewski’s studio where they lived together, and remained there after Stazewski’s death in 1988. In 1966, Krasinski was one of the founders of the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw, which acted as a focal point for experimental conceptual artists. He participated in the first happening in Warsaw in 1965, initiated by the artist and theatre director Tadeusz Cantor (1915–90), and later played the role of conductor in Cantor’s Panoramic Sea Happening 1967 at Łazy, near Osieki. He began using blue tape in his actions, installations and photo-based works from 1968, often working with the photographer Eustachy Kossakowski (1925–2001). In 1970, he applied tape to the walls of the Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the windows of Rive Gauche galleries. He met Daniel Buren (born 1938) on that occasion, and the two artists remained friends. There is a strong conceptual likeness between the two artists’ work, as both use unchanging and potentially infinite stripes to challenge the definition of art and ways of looking at art (see Buren’s work T12316, One of the Possibilities 1973). Krasinski described the ambivalent and challenging meaning of his use of the blue tape, which became his signature mark: ‘Blue Scotch Tape, 19mm wide, length unknown. I place it horizontally at a height of 130cm everywhere and on everything. I encompass everything with it and go everywhere. This is art, or is it? Yet one thing is certain: blue Scotch Tape, 19mm wide, length unknown.’ (Quoted in Kiessler and Mytkowska, p.83.)
Lena Kiessler and Joanna Mytkowska (eds.), Edward Krasinski: Interwencja, Warsaw 2001.
Sabine Breitwieser (ed.), Edward Krasinski: Les Mises en Scène, Vienna 2006.
Paweł Polit (ed.), Edward Krasinski: Elementarz/ABC, Krakow 2008.
Supported by the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute of Art.