About the biennial

The Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is one of the oldest biennials in the world. Its emergence in 1955 pinpointed Ljubljana and the visual art of Slovenia on the world map.

The Biennial is highly esteemed by international measure and is recognized as a high-quality event, whereas Slovene art has in turn become well-known outside Slovenia’s borders because of the Biennial. It is the printmakers that most widely represent Slovene art in the museums of the world, something which the Biennial contributed to, as well as inviting artists to major international exhibitions.

During its sixty years of existence, the Biennial has helped to raise the quality of Slovene artmaking. By regularly presenting the works of artists from different cultural backgrounds and artistic environments, it has had an impact on local goings on. It also greatly contributed to the formation of the Ljubljana school of graphic arts and those art pieces that represent the highlights of classic printmaking production. The Biennial took shape during a period when printmaking and its reproductive techniques grasped perfectly the disposition of art and society in general. That was precisely the time when pop art was coming to the fore in Great Britain and in the United States. Post-war capitalism, consumer society and the loose division between so-called high and low culture greatly affected the production of art. Art became an object of consumerism, yet another product on the supermarket shelf, placed next to the cans of soup, where Andy Warhol had put it. In this climate, the Biennial made a head start in becoming one of the world’s renowned art events. As the oldest manifestation of this type, it has also encouraged the emergence of similar types of events around the world.

Between the ends of the seventies and the eighties, the currents in the art world changed. The focus was again placed on the so-called originality of the artist’s hand, which pushed printmaking as a mass production technique into the background, whereas the events of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts went through a period of crisis. The nineties re-established art inclined towards printmaking, which held an interest for the attributes of post-industrial society, environmental awareness, political correctness in various scopes and its communicative capacities. And so the International Biennial of Graphic Arts once again gained prominence. After 2001, it also began to make active connections with reproductive techniques other than printmaking, such as photography, film and computer programs. The 24th Biennial in 2001 embarked on the process of revitalization, checking the structure, organization, attitude towards the local and international public, curatorship. The self-reflection and questioning of its role will continue also with the biennials to follow.

 

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ARCHIVE

You are invited to view the film "Am I a manager? Yes, I am."

Živa Škodlar Vujić, a long-time curator of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, and Mitja Rotovnik, the first director of Cankarjev dom, who professionally and personally followed the efforts of his friend Zoran Kržišnik, shared their views and memories in a short documentary about the international involvement of the Slovenian art scene. Their account takes us through the extremely dynamic period of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when Ljubljana became a cosmopolitan cultural centre. These events are illuminated from a cultural and historical perspective by Aleš Gabrič, who talks in the film about, among other things, the development of the managerial mentality in Slovenia and the importance of international cultural events, which distinguish cultural goings-on in Slovenia to this day.

From the MGLC Collection

Jo-ey Tang, The Manual
(Morava Books 14, 2012)
Collection of Art Publications

An FBI manual becomes a book of poetry, together with original microscopic and infrared images. The sculpted text is a meditation of surface and the infinitesimal space above and beneath the surface in the search for evidence.

Jo-ey Tang enacts the circulation and absence of images and objects, as well as the life cycle of ideas. The work takes on various forms of photography, video, sculpture, painting, sound, text and “self-assigned tasks”, spans over many exhibitions and is often seen as both the same and new work, in a constant process of building up and cancelling out. The publication was awarded first prize in the ROOKIE competition (June 2012, www.r-o-o-k-i-e.com), organised by City Gallery Arsenal, Poznań and Morava Publishing House.

The booklet comes in a hardback cover with 64 unpaginated pages and is offset printed in a circulation of 350 copies.

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Milton Glaser, Dylan (1966, offset)
Collection of Art Publications

The story of this poster, which was an insert on Dylan's 1967 album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, goes as follows. After suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1966, the singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was bedridden and rumoured to be dead. To generate positive publicity for his forthcoming album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, CBS Records commissioned Milton Glaser to design a special poster to be included with the album. Glaser depicted the singer in profile, with his abundant curly hair rendered in saturated colours that stand out from the background. The intense, almost psychedelic colours can also be seen as the spirit of the time and the flower power generation from the second half of the 1960s.

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Photo: Jaka Babnik. MGLC Archive.

International Museum Day at MGLC

Tuesday, 18 May, 10.00-21.00
free of charge

You are invited to view and join in the following exhibitions and events!

Invader, Prints on Paper
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

EVENT
17.00–18.00 
Guided tour of the exhibition: Prints on Paper, conducted by Mitja Velikonja, PhD
To take part in the guided tour, bookings must be made at: trgovina@mglc-lj.si

Sonja Vulpes, Limbo
10.00–18.00
The exhibition is on view at Tivoli Mansion

ONLINE
We have prepared a short film about the artist's creative process.

The Stojan Batič Memorial Studio
10.00–18.00
Permanent display at Švicarija

EVENT
Brane Zorman: The Spirit of the Trees | Touch
20.00
In front of Švicarija

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Photo: Urška Boljkovac. MGLC Archive.