Carlos Cruz-Diez, ‘Physichromie No. 113’ 1963, reconstructed 1976
Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie No. 113 1963, reconstructed 1976 . Tate . © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

Room 12 in In the Studio

A View from Zagreb: Op and Kinetic Art

Supernovae

Victor Vasarely, Supernovae  1959–61

Supernovae is formed of 1,161 small black squares, set inside a thin white vertical grid. The work plays optical tricks on the viewer. Vasarely designed it so that it seems to move, flip or change depending on where you view it from. This reflects his interest in geometry, perception and movement. Motion, Vasarely explained, is not about depicting a moving object. Instead, it is ‘the aggressiveness with which the structures strike the retina.’

Gallery label, October 2019

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Physichromie No. 113

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie No. 113  1963, reconstructed 1976

This work forms part of a series in which the Venezuelan artist Cruz-Diez demonstrates the way colour changes according to the position and movement of the viewer. He placed colours in parallel strips and at right angles, so that they seem to blend as the spectator’s viewpoint changes from one side of the work to the other. The title is a term invented by Cruz-Diez, derived from the words ‘physical chromatism’. The mirror effect was originally created using a material called lumaline, which deteriorated over time, and the work was remade by the artist in 1976 using polished stainless steel.

Gallery label, July 2019

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Perspex Group on Orange (B)

Mary Martin, Perspex Group on Orange (B)  1969

This is one of a series of five works that Martin entitled Perspex Group on Orange. For each one she arranged seven pieces of Perspex in a different configuration, assembling them against a large orange square of the same material. The sizes of the different pieces are based on the Fibonacci series – a mathematical sequence in which each successive number is generated by adding together the two previous numbers. ‘One commences with a single cell, or unit, a logical process of growth is applied and the whole, or the effect, is unforeseen until the work is complete’, Martin explained.

Gallery label, January 2019

© Estate of Mary Martin

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Ambiguous Structure No.92

Jean-Pierre Yvaral, Ambiguous Structure No.92  1969

Soto left Venezuela for Paris in 1950 where, influenced by Piet Mondrian’s late works, he set out to make paintings that appeared to move. His interest in the transformation of matter into energy led him to create a series of reliefs he called vibrations. In these works, layers of lines, either static or mobile, produce an optical disturbance. In Cardinal a cascade of stems hangs in front of a striped background, gently swinging with the air around it. This movement is enhanced by the optical effects of the rods against the hand-drawn lines.

Gallery label, October 2016

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Cardinal

Jesus Rafael Soto, Cardinal  1965

Soto left Venezuela for Paris in 1950 where, influenced by Piet Mondrian’s late works, he set out to make paintings that appeared to move. His interest in the transformation of matter into energy led him to create a series of reliefs he called vibrations. In these works, layers of lines, either static or mobile, produce an optical disturbance. In Cardinal a cascade of stems hangs in front of a striped background, gently swinging with the air around it. This movement is enhanced by the optical effects of the rods against the hand-drawn lines.

Gallery label, October 2016

© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2020

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Suasum

Ivan Picelj, Suasum  1965

Suasum 1965 is a square-format metal relief on a painted wooden backboard. The relief is made up of forty-nine equally sized, curved (concave) painted metal elements displayed in a grid of seven rows by seven columns. Forming a coffered surface, each modular metal unit is arranged in an alternating orientation at ninety degrees regularly across the grid. Set upon a black wooden backboard, the metal half-cylinders range in colour from dark grey at the outer edges of the grid to light grey, and are centred upon a single white metal piece. The concave metal elements reflect light and cast shadows, creating a sense of inner movement. Equally, Picelj was interested in how the perception of a work changes in relation to the movement of the viewer in front of it. In some works, such as the monumental metal relief Passage 1967 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb), each curved metal element was set on thin raised supports at ascending heights, creating a sculptural and optical rhythm. Picelj also used colour to create different optical effects. In works such as Suasum, he created a sense of light growing from dark edges to whiteness in the centre; in others, such as Candra I 1965 (private collection), he used white to create a monochrome coffered surface which responded to ambient lighting. He also worked with complementary colours, as seen in the red and green elements in Ania 1965 (private collection), which created a vibrating optical effect.

© Ivan Picelj Estate

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M 69-41

Julije Knifer, M 69-41  1969

M 69–41 1969 is an acrylic painting on canvas. A black painted geometric form, made up of four thick verticals and three slightly thinner horizontals, is set in relation to a gold painted ground. The elements of the black form are seamlessly connected at right angles to create a rhythm across the surface, from left to right or right to left. The vertical element of the continuous form on the left-hand side of the canvas bleeds off the edge to the left, as does the vertical element on the right-hand side of the canvas, alluding to the possibility of the infinite continuation of the form. The top and bottom edges of the black form do not reach to the edges of the canvas as the spaces at the top and bottom of the canvas and the three vertical spaces between the upright elements are painted gold. Having previously worked with oil paint, Knifer switched to using acrylic in 1968, impressed by the new possibilities it offered in relation to the compactness of the painted surface. In M 69–41, as with other works made using acrylic, the traces of the brushwork are invisible. Art historian Vera Horvat Pintaric has noted that acrylic enabled Knifer to create colour surfaces that were ‘evenly condensed, solid and impenetrable, taking a new tactile quality’ (in Makovic 2002, p.68).

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Volume of Displaced Modules

Dadamaino, Volume of Displaced Modules  1960

Sobrino left Spain for Buenos Aires in 1949, where he came into contact with the artists of the group Arte Concreto-Invención. He then moved to Paris in 1958, where he became one of the founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) in 1960. This is also when he started making sculptures out of simple geometric forms, cut from tinted transparent plastic sheets and arranged in regular structures. The effects of combination and layering deliberately make it difficult to determine the position of each shape in space and in relation to each other.

Gallery label, October 2016

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Surface IX

Ivan Picelj, Surface IX  1962

Surface IX 1962 is a square-format wooden relief on a square wooden backboard which has been painted black by the artist. The relief itself is composed of twenty-seven vertical slats of wood of equal height and width, placed adjacent to one another. Each wooden slat has been machine-routed, or turned, creating a pattern of horizontal indentations at varying intervals along the slats. The profile of each moulded strip is undulated, some strips containing as few as thirteen notches, others as many as nineteen. Each profile becomes a different structural element in the constructed relief. Placed side-by-side, the alternating profiles create a sense of rhythm and movement. Surface IX belongs to a body of wooden reliefs that Picelj created between the late 1950s and the early 1960s to which he gave the name ‘surfaces’, differentiating them from each other by using the roman numerical system.

© Ivan Picelj Estate

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Indefinite Spaces S

Francisco Sobrino, Indefinite Spaces S  1963

Sobrino left Spain for Buenos Aires in 1949, where he came into contact with the artists of the group Arte Concreto-Invención. He then moved to Paris in 1958, where he became one of the founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) in 1960. This is also when he started making sculptures out of simple geometric forms, cut from tinted transparent plastic sheets and arranged in regular structures. The effects of combination and layering deliberately make it difficult to determine the position of each shape in space and in relation to each other.

Gallery label, October 2016

© Estate of Francisco Sobrino

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Two Warps and Wefts of Short Lines 0° 90°

François Morellet, Two Warps and Wefts of Short Lines 0° 90°  1955–6

Morellet was inspired by the mathematical principles behind the early geometric abstractions of the Dutch Neo-plastic artists (Mondrian, van Doesburg, Vantongerloo). He used regular grids and repetition in an attempt to reduce the role of the artist’s individual sensibility to a minimum. In this painting he used square patterns with lines of slightly different lengths, rotated and combined in order to convey a sense of depth. He was one of the older founding members of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV).

Gallery label, October 2016

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Claus Bremer, a text happens  1965

Bremer thought of his poems as ‘engaged texts’. Viewers needed to be active in the structuring of the poem by moving their eyes or the printed poem itself in order to read it. Bremer was another important promoter of concrete poetry in Germany. As part of the ‘Darmstadt Circle’ of concrete poets, he published a magazine titled MATERIAL between 1957 and 1959. In the group were also Fluxus artists Emmett Williams, an American expatriate, and Daniel Spoerri, a Romanian-born artist involved with the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement in France.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Mathias Goeritz, oro  1965

Born in Poland and trained as an art historian in Berlin, Goeritz left Europe for Mexico in 1949. During the 1950s he was active in the development of a Mexican avant-garde separate from the realism of the muralist painters. Goeritz often used gold (‘oro’ in Spanish) in his monochrome paintings and sculptures, in a reference to religious art such as Christian icons. He proposed a modern ‘prayer art’, an art of love and belief. He used form and colour to evoke metaphysical and emotional experiences.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Augusto de Campos, no title  1964

In 1969 the fourth edition of the New Tendencies exhibition in Zagreb, titled tendencije 4, included a section dedicated to ‘typoetry’. This was a form of visual poetry where the composition of the typed text contributed to the meaning of the poem. Sometimes the letters or words have no meaning of their own or only function as images. Typoetry was connected to ‘concrete poetry’, a genre initiated in the 1950s in Brazil by artists such as Augusto de Campos and his brother Haroldo.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Walter Leblanc, Twisted Strings, 80F X 477  1960

In 1959 Leblanc began to use torsion – a technique of twisting materials – in both his painting and sculpture. He was particularly interested in the ways that light would ripple across the surface of these works, creating dynamic effects. Twisted Strings, 80F X 477 is an early example of this approach. Cotton thread is stitched to the canvas, and covered with black latex paint. Leblanc was the founder of the Antwerp art collective G58, a group of young artists dedicated to new techniques and materials.

Gallery label, January 2019

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Hansjörg Mayer, oil  1965

Poet, printer and typographer Hansjörg Mayer experimented extensively with the shapes of individual lower-case letters in the Futura typeface. This was a very common font in the typoetry genre, as seen in the works in these vitrines. Mayer was associated with the group of concrete poets gathered around philosopher Max Bense in Stuttgart. Bense was influenced by Brazilian concrete poetry and invited Haroldo de Campos to give lectures in Stuttgart. When Mayer later moved to England to teach, he in turn influenced a generation of British concrete poets.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Robert Mallary, Quad III  1969

New Tendencies artists and theorist were interested in the growing influence of computers on the visual arts, and on wider society. As rational and systematic instruments, they believed they could contribute to the democratisation of art. In 1969 the fourth edition of the New Tendencies exhibition in Zagreb was dedicated to ‘Computers and Visual Research’. American artist Robert Mallary contributed a sculpture created using the computer program TRAN2. The program generated a vertical sequence of 48 forms, which were then printed and used as patterns to cut the individual plywood ‘slices’ forming the sculpture.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Art in this room

Supernovae
Victor Vasarely Supernovae 1959–61
Physichromie No. 113
Carlos Cruz-Diez Physichromie No. 113 1963, reconstructed 1976
Perspex Group on Orange (B)
Mary Martin Perspex Group on Orange (B) 1969
Ambiguous Structure No.92
Jean-Pierre Yvaral Ambiguous Structure No.92 1969
Cardinal
Jesus Rafael Soto Cardinal 1965
Suasum
Ivan Picelj Suasum 1965

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