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ã Piotr Piotrowski, Awangarda W Cieniu Jałty: Sztuka W Europie środkowo-wschodniej, 2005, Umění [prague], Vol. 55, No. 1, 2007, 82-84

ã Piotr Piotrowski, Awangarda w cieniu Jałty: Sztuka w Europie Środkowo-Wschodniej, 2005, Umění [Prague], vol. 55, No. 1, 2007, 82-84




  Piotr Piotrowski,  Avant-Garde in the Shadow of Yalta: Art in East-Central Europe, 1945-1989, Rebis, Poznań 2005, 502 pp, 224 b&w illustrations.In 2001, during a Round Table disussion at t!e "ollege #rt #ssoiation "on$erene in "!iago, t!e "ze! art !istorian and riti %artina Pa!ano'( raised t!e issue o$ agen) in t!e onstrution o$ t!e doinant narrati'es o$ *ast+"entral *uropean art. !e was re$erring toa opre!ensi'e sur'e) o$ earl) twentiet!+entur) odernis in *astern *urope, publis!ed  b) t!e #erian te'en %ansba! wit! "abridge -ni'ersit) Press. !ile stressing !er  belie$ in t!e openness o$ t!is area to resear!ers $ro wit!in and wit!out t!e $ield, Pa!ano'( raised !er onern about t!e suppression o$ loal 'oies $ro t!e region. 1  T!e /uestion o$ t!e speaking subet, inetriabl) bound to t!e !oie o$ interpreti'e strategies, indiates t!e disursi'e nature o$ an) artisti region, t!e latter issue partiularl) poignant in t!e ase o$ t!e notoriousl) ill+de$ined *astern "entral3 *urope. ine t!at disussion in "!iago, a nuber o$ iportant books and e!ibition atalogues proposing new ore narrati'es o$ *ast "entral *uropean art o$ t!e twentiet! entur), perei'ed as an ebraeable ultural entit), pre+ and post II, !a'e been publis!ed. %ost o$ t!e were produed in t!e est b) ot!er leading #nglop!one publis!ers, 'irtuall) all appearing now as ulti+aut!or 'olues, ontaining a ied range o$ 'oies $ro est and *ast. 2  #t t!e tie o$ t!e e'ent in "!iago, !owe'er, at least one o$ t!e Round Table disussants ust !a'e alread) !ad a new book up !is slee'e, a stud) o$$ering a ritial anal)sis o$ t!e alost totall) uneplored topi o$ t!e a'ant+garde art in t!e peoples deoraies during t!e "old ar. T!is tie, t!e agen) !as been taken o'er b) an insider,   t!e renowned Polis! art !istorian and t!e epert o$ t!e twentiet! entur) art and t!eor) aross*ast and est, Piotr Piotrowski. # ontributor to t!e aor international e!ibitions and  proets on t!e arts o$ *ast "entral *urope, t!e aut!or o$ an) books and pro'oati'e artileson t!e topi, reprinted in a 'ariet) o$ languages in pro$essional art ournals $ro %osow and6ublana to Paris and 7ew 8ork, Piotrowski is one o$ t!ose w!o are best e/uipped to gi'e a wider piture o$ odernis be!ind t!e Iron "urtain, w!ile $ollowing losel) ultilingual debates on onteporar) art, bot! estern and *astern. 9is onuental 'olue o$ o'er 500 1 "entral and *ast *uropean #rt and "ulture, 1:45 to t!e Present,  Artar!ins , 15 ;tober 2001, online !ttp<argins.o. te'en %ansba!,  odern Art in Eastern Europe:  "ro# the $alti% to the $al&ans 189'-19(9 , "abridge 1:::.2 Tiot!) ;. >enson ed.3, Central European Avant-!ardes: E)%han!e and *ransfor#ation , 6os #ngeles "ount) %useu o$ #rt and t!e %IT Press, "abridge %# and 6ondon 2002? Tiot!) ;. >enson and *'a @orgas eds3,  $etween +orlds: A Sour%eoo& of Central  European Avant- Aardes, 1919-19(' , 6os #ngeles "ount) %useu o$ #rt and t!e %IT Press, "abridge %# and 6ondon 2002? 6aura 9optan and To(B Pospisz)l eds3,  ri#ar.  /o%u#ents <  A   Sour%eoo&     for Eastern and Central European Art sin%e the 195's , T!e %useu o$ %odern #rt, 7ew 8ork and t!e %IT Press, "abridge %# and 6ondon 2002? Ca'id "rowle) and usan *. Reid eds3, So%ialist   paes< Sites of Ever.da. 0ife in Eastern  $lo% , >erg, 7ew 8ork and 6ondon 2002? #leB *ra'e ed.3, $oreword b) %artin Da),  ost#odernis# and the ostso%ialist Condition , -ni'ersit) o$ "ali$ornia Press, >erkele), 6os#ngeles, 6ondon 200? ibelan @orrester, %agdalena D. Eaborowska and *lena Aapo'a eds3, ver the +all2 After the "all: ost-Co##unist Cultures *hrou!h an East -+est Ga3e , Indiana-ni'ersit) Press, >looington 2004, and two ost reent positions< *lizabet! "legg,  Art,  /esi!n and Ar%hite%ture of Central Europe189'-19' , 8ale -ni'ersit) Press, 7ew 9a'en and6ondon 200F? IRI7 ed.3,  East Art ap Conte#porar. Art and Eastern Europe, T!e %IT Press, "abridge %# and 6ondon 200F.   pages, illustrated wit! 220 plus iages, is an outoe o$ ore t!an $i$teen )ears o$ resear!, arried out single+!andedl) in useus, galleries and ar!i'es, as well as in on'ersations wit! artists and urators all o'er *ast "entral *urope. u! a wide+ranging proet, t!e $irst o$ its kind, pro'ides t!e reader wit! plent) o$ illuinating insig!ts into t!e unknown pages o$  post+1:45 a'ant+gardes and its disourses in "ze!oslo'akia, 8ugosla'ia, Poland, 9ungar), *astern Aeran), Roania, and to a lesser etent, in >ulgaria. T!e 'alue o$ t!e book, !owe'er, lies not onl) in digging t!roug! t!e eisting literature in 'arious loal languages wit!out t!e $ailiar oplaints about t!eir inaessibilit)3, but also in aking unepeted onnetions wit! ultural t!eor), su! as @ouaults panoptiis, >art!esian )t!ologies, or Cerridean aporias, and in t!is wa) ontetualizes t!e s!i$ting kaleidosope o$ artworlds in t!e;t!er *urope wit!in a wider real o$ debates at t!e !eart o$ onteporar) art ritiis. T!e underl)ing resear! /uestion o$ t!e book, as Piotrowski eplains in t!e pre$ae, dates bak to t!is student da)s in t!e 1:G0s and to !is realization o$ t!e notable di$$erenes  between onteporar) art in t!e peoples deoraies on t!e one !and, and, on t!e ot!er !and, o$ a generalized western assuption about t!e o'erall di$$erene and t!e !oogeneit) o$ t!e *astern blo. T!e tension between t!is uni$ied and di$$erentiated iage, or between t!e belie$ in t!e de$ining alterit) as seen $ro wit!out, and t!e !eterogeneit) as obser'ed wit!in, undersores Piotrowskis ople arguent. T!e book $ors t!us a response to t!e essentialised piture o$ a Hgre) zone o$ *urope, aiing to $ill t!e gap in t!e ar!i'es o$ twentiet! entur) a'ant+gardes, and to re'ise at t!e sae tie t!eir interpreti'e tools. #nd )et, as stressed b) Piotrowski, t!is ig!t) 'olue does not aspire to a status o$ a Hde$initi'e re$erene book o$ *ast "entral *uropean art a$ter 1:45. Instead o$ t!e establis!ed pratie o$ o'ing $ro one ountr) to anot!er and treating t!e as distint ultural organiss w!i!  produed 'arious 'ersions o$ odernis, Piotrowski set !isel$ a u! ore abitious task.9is ai was to outline a oparati'e ultural geograp!) o$ *ast "entral *uropean artworlds in lose relation to politis, and to do t!at not in Het!ni, but in ritial ters, b) identi$)ing Hpartiular artisti probles, tendenies, attitudes, and $ors o$ epression rele'ant $or t!e region, and to relate t!e s)n!roniall) during t!e deades arked b) t!e Hs!adow o$ 8alta, between 1:45+1::. u! a strateg) iplies o$ ourse t!e subsription to t!e belie$ in t!e eistene o$ a  perei'able ultural entit) naed !ere *ast "entral *urope. #nd, indeed, t!e "old ar )ears do ark a uni/ue !istorial period w!en, $raed b) t!e Iron "urtain and solidi$ied b) a densenetwork o$ ilitar) and eonoi institutions, su! as t!e "oeon and t!e arsaw Pat, t!is region a/uired a relati'el) uni$ied politial, soial as well as ultural identit), distinguis!able $ro ot!er ultural areas o$ t!e "old ar world. 9owewer, Piotrowski argues, it was not t!is newl) onstruted olleti'e identit), but t!e ontinuous proess o$ rebellion against it, staged at 'arious speeds and intensit) wit!in t!e "ounist blo, w!i! ga'e t!e region its oon traits, its s!ared sel$. T!us it was t!e denial o$ t!e iposed olleti'it) w!i! was turned, olleti'el), into the de$ining $eature *ast "entral *uropes ultural identit). Tr)ing to su up t!e book in a single p!rase< it is t!e anti+"ounist  It is iportant to ention !ere an e'en earlier book b) anot!er insider, t!e lo'ak art !istorian %ari( ;riBko'( , w!i! addressed t!e elusion o$ *ast *uropean art $ro western art !istor), pointing to t!e eistene o$ two separate art !istories, *ast and est, and t!eir respeti'e liitations in approa!ing t!e w!ole $ield o$ *uropean art. !e presented an interesting anal)sis o$ t!e Hdissident paradig o$ *ast+"entral *uropean a'ant+gardes in "ze!oslo'akia, 9ungar) and Poland pre+1:: in w!i!, gi'en t!e ontet o$ its prodution, t!e ani$estl) apolitial art s!ould be read as a latent politial stateent, redeeing in t!is urious wa) t!e odernist lai o$ t!e autono) o$ art< %ari( ;riBko'(,  /vohlasn J  dein. u#enia , Petrus, >ratisla'a 2002.  resistane w!i! de$ines t!e a'ant+garde in t!e s!adow o$ Dalta and w!i! $ors t!e 'oluesontents. T!e real /uestion w!i! !ad to be addressed at t!e beginning was< !ow su! a stud) s!ould be written. !ould it $ous on t!e saeness o$ t!e traetories o$ odernis in t!e est and *ast, and in t!is wa) onl) strengt!en t!e eisting western anon, not opposing its lai to uni'ersalit) and superiorit)K ;r, s!ould it rat!er ai at Hbuilding a perspeti'e w!i!would ep!asize t!e Lot!ernessM o$ t!is part o$ *urope p.153, w!ile at t!e sae tie rede$ining t!e riteria o$ alterit) $ro t!e position o$ t!e arginalizedK It was t!is seond, ore di$$iult and open+ended option w!i! !as been !osen b) t!e aut!or. T!e $irst !apter o$ t!e book, et!odologial in nature, puts $orward preepts o$ a new ritial geograp!) o$ art, as de'ised b) Piotrowski. Instead o$ rel)ing on site+spei$iit) or t!e  !enius lo%i  o$ t!e old  6unst!eo!raphie , it !inges around t!e relations between ulture and politis. It alerts to t!e disursi'e nature o$ an) art+!istorial and ritial endea'our and, $ollowing >r)son and Cerrida, to t!e onstruted nature o$ Hontets w!i! are not!ing else t!an proesses o$ $raing. #s stated b) t!e aut!or< H#rt o$ "ze!oslo'akia, Roania and 9ungar) de'eloped in di$$erent seioti and ideologial spaes t!an @ren! or Italian art, and t!e uni'ersal perspeti'e as a et!odologial tool pre'ents rea!ing t!e spei$i ultural eanings and establis!ing its regional, national and loal identit). NO u! a task an be $ailitated b) t!e use o$ a ritial geograp!) o$ art.p.03 #nd !e eplains t!at Ha new geograp!) o$ *ast "entral *urope ust onsider in its re$letion NO a wide range o$ !istorial $ators w!i! appear on t!e intersties o$ traditions and de$initions o$ plae ebedded in loal tensions, )t!ologies, oplees, as well as politial and soial strutures Non t!e one !and, and on t!e ot!er !and Nit s!ould take into aount traetories o$ ulture, reeption o$ ultural paradigs, eport and iport o$ art, and siilar proesses. "ulture o$ NO post+war *ast "entral *urope will not be understood wit!out su! a ople anal)sis, or, in ot!er words, it will be perei'ed solel) as perip!eries o$ western ulture. p.43 !at $ollows is a se/uene o$ ental aps w!i! outline t!e di$$erent politial irustanes, $untions and t!e d)nais o$ "old ar oderniss in t!e peoples deoraies. T!e book is di'ided into $i'e aor !apters. #$ter t!e et!odologial introdution, t!e seond !apter $ouses on t!e s!ort period between 1:45 and 1:4,  preeding t!e w!olesale iposition o$ t!e dotrine o$ soialist realis. It presents a 'ariet) o$ surrealist praties in "ze!oslo'akia, 9ungar) and Poland, w!ile pointing to di$$erent wa)s in w!i! surrealis was Hinstruentalised in t!e $irst ats o$ resistane against t!e o$$iial ultural politis, espeiall) in Poland. T!e net !apter H%odernis and Totalitarianis, di'ided into setions on infor#el  , geoetri abstration, new $iguration, pop+art and riti/ue o$ painting, goes straig!t to t!e late $i$ties and sities, totall) ignoring t!e episode o$ soialist realis. T!e latter, nonet!eless, is e'oked in t!e book as a onstant negati'e re$erene, a )ard+stik against w!i! all ot!er artisti praties are easured p.123. Piotrowski reiterates !ere !is 'iews epressed earlier, blaing t!e trauati eperiene o$ soialist realis in t!e ountries su! as Poland or "ze!oslo'akia $or t!e 'irtual absene o$ t!e politiall)+in'ol'eda'ant+gardes in t!is part o$ *urope, and $or t!e pre'alent belie$ in t!e autono) o$ art, in its redepti'e potential in $ae o$ t!e totalitarianis t!reat. Piotrowskis pro'oati'e disussionswit! Rosalind Qrausss riti/ue o$ t!e )t! o$ t!e odernist grid and its appliation to *ast "entral *urope pp. 145+43, or wit! >enain >u!lo!s assessent o$ t!e return to $iguration as retrogressi'e pp. 10+13, are partiularl) stiulating to bot! t!e *astern and t!e estern reader. #not!er aple !apter looks at t!e 'arious ani$estations o$ t!e neo+a'antgarde o$ t!e 1:G0s, $ousing on oneptual art and bod) art, and t!eir engageent in t!eidentit) and gender politis. T!e $inal !apter $untions as an epilogue, and, aording to t!e narrati'e adopted b) Piotrowski, outlines t!e artisti o'eents o$ t!e 1:0s, $ro neo+  epressionis to per$orane, w!i! bot! re$erred to and ontributed to t!e end o$ "ounis. Piotrowskis book, undoubtedl), is a trul) ground breaking publiation, bot! in its sopeand in its ritial approa!, in its engageent wit! t!eor) and wit! artisti pratie as well as wit! t!e wider geopolitial $raework o$ t!e "old ar. T!e book is not addressed solel) to t!e Hignorant western audiene, but also to t!e onteporar) *astern *uropean reader, w!oseknowledge about t!e art o$ ot!er Hbrot!erl) ountries is likel) to be inial. Curing t!e Round Table in "!iago, Pa!ano'( raised also a seeingl) innoent /uestion w!et!er Hit would be possible $or an *ast+"entral *uropean art !istorian to propose su! a proet to a  publis!er in t!e -nited tates or >ritain, as i$ suggesting potential probles wit! su! an initiati'e. ritten in Polis!, t!e book so $ar speaks onl) to a inorit) o$ s!olars. Its translation into a widel) spoken *uropean language would guarantee t!e book a plae in a  plet!ora o$ uni'ersit) s)llabuses on art, ulture and !istor) o$ *ast "entral *urope.