JÚLIUS KOLLER: Universal Fantastic Occupation

1 - 31 October 2020
  • Since the rediscovery of his work in the early 1990s by Slovak artists and intellectuals, Július Koller has become an...

    Since the rediscovery of his work in the early 1990s by Slovak artists and intellectuals, Július Koller has become an iconic figure in the history of the neo-avant-garde and post-avant-garde and an important inspiration for artists worldwide whilst his work provides a fascinating documentation and critique of both sides of the Iron Curtain.

     

    Trained as an academic painter, Július Koller began to take a critical stance in his days as a student. Inspired by Duchamp, Fluxus and Nouveau Réalisme he began using Conceptual techniques and his dry wit to question the Western art world and to skilfully comment on Communist Czechoslovakia where cultural production was divided into ‘official’ and so-called ‘free art’.

     

    In the mid 1960s Koller made the ‘Antihappening’ a fundamental statement throughout his whole artistic career. The prefix ‘anti’ was a way of distinguishing his work from all artistic actions that follow some kind of script and distributed in telegrams, postcards, and declared in his manifestoes.

     

     In 1966, Koller began the Junk Culture series, which consisted of collecting the detritus left from the act of painting; waste paints, paper palettes or mixing bowls, as well as books, posters, and wrappers to create simple minimal collage compositions. Koller related the junk series to how he perceived his personal situation, as he felt he had spent his whole life in the midst of culture of junk.

    Inspired by Duchamp, Fluxus and Nouveau Réalisme he began using Conceptual techniques and his dry wit to question the Western art world and to skilfully comment on Communist Czechoslovakia where cultural production was divided into ‘official’ and so-called ‘free art’.

  • His ‘artworks’ are just a small part of a multiform artistic landscape that destabilises the status of the artwork, the...
    Untitled (Anti Happening), 1970

    Collage and ink on paper, 8 1/4 x 3 7/8 inches (21 x 9.8 cm)

    €14,000.00

    His ‘artworks’ are just a small part of a multiform artistic landscape that destabilises the status of the artwork, the file, and the documentary note all at the same time.

    The obsessive and mass documentation became a lifelong undertaking, acquiring and classifying the visual and textual evidence of the socialist and post-socialist worlds he inhabited. Constantly organising and manipulating, he systematically responded to the reality around him. Text collages, letters, notebooks, and transcriptions form an integral part of the archive, amongst them important texts of the Western neo-avant-garde. Koller’s archive is not just the source of his artistic œuvre but also an integral part of it. His ‘artworks’ are just a small part of a multiform artistic landscape that destabilises the status of the artwork, the file, and the documentary note all at the same time.

     

    Koller utilised the question mark symbol in 1969 as a signature; appearing repeatedly in his work it defined both his oeuvre and himself as a universal symbol of doubt that questioned the social and political situation in Czechoslovakia and still questions the multiple political, social, and economic uncertainties of the world we live in now.

  • In 1970, two years after the failed Prague Spring, Koller introduced the concept U.F.O. to his work: “Universal-Cultural Futurological Operations”....
    Untitled U.F.O.(Matchbox)

    Letterpress on matchbox

    1 3/8 x 2 x 3/8 inches (3.5 x 5 x 1 cm)

    €10,000.00

    In 1970, two years after the failed Prague Spring, Koller introduced the concept U.F.O. to his work: “Universal-Cultural Futurological Operations”. Over the next three decades he created his major group of works under the same name, while he himself became the subject of a series of portraits known as “U.F.O.-naut J.K”.  An invasion of Utopic ideals, it is a Science Fiction take on society and the infinite possibilities that the Future may hold.

     

    Exhibited regularly in Slovakia, Koller has also exhibited internationally including Sao Paulo, New York, and New Zealand with recent solo shows Július Koller, One Man Anti Show, at the MUMOK, Wien, travelling to MUSEION, Bozen in 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb (2019), Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2015) and group shows at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2020) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, (2017).

    In 1970 [...] Koller introduced the concept U.F.O. to his work:

    “Universal-Cultural Futurological Operations”. An invasion of Utopic ideals, it is a Science Fiction take on society and the infinite possibilities that the Future may hold.

  • Slovakian translation: Avantgarde artist = Harmony between creation and promotion. If propaganda predominates, the work is emptied of content, changed...
    Untitled (Avantgarde Artist), 1975

    Pen on paper

    9 1/2 x 13 inches (24 x 33 cm)

    €12,000.00

    Slovakian translation:

    Avantgarde artist = Harmony between creation and promotion.

    If propaganda predominates, the work is emptied of content, changed into a modern article, and the artist turns into “clown” store for the rich, bourgeois and snobby, the official audience!