ArtExhibitionsMultiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s
Special-Engagement Exhibition

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s

04/17/2024 to 09/15/2024 Located in Steele Gallery

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960-1980s traces how a generation of artists used experimentation to negotiate different conditions for daily life and art-making, confronting varying degrees of control and restrictions on how art could be produced, circulated, and experienced.

Zbigniew Rybczyński, Take Five, 1972. 35mm short film transferred to digital. Courtesy the artist, Vail, AZ.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s is a survey of experimental art made by almost 100 artists from six Central-Eastern European nations, including East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The exhibition traces how a generation of artists with distinct experiences of locally specific state-sanctioned control embraced experimentation and interdisciplinary practices to confront at times harsh conditions of everyday life, while circumventing and eluding the very systems that sought to surveil and silence them.

Zbigniew Rybczyński, Take Five, 1972. 35mm short film transferred to digital. Courtesy the artist, Vail, AZ.

Zbigniew Rybczyński, Take Five, 1972. 35mm short film transferred to digital. Courtesy the artist, Vail, AZ.

The exhibition features rarely seen and newly reconstructed works. It draws on the visual arts, performance, music, and material culture to demonstrate the conceptual and formal innovation practiced by Eastern Bloc artists of the era, who were daily forced to negotiate and adapt their artistic practices within societies that enforced restrictions on how art could be produced, circulated, and received by the public. While some works demonstrate wit and irony, all are grounded in an unyielding spirit of adventure and imagination.

Jürgen Wittdorf, Baubrigade der Sportstudenten from the series Jugend und Sport (Sports Students’ Builders Brigade from the series Youth and Sport), 1964. Linocut. Collection Andre Odier, Berlin. Courtesy KVOST and Schwules Museum Berlin. Photo: Bernd Borchardt.

Jürgen Wittdorf, Baubrigade der Sportstudenten from the series Jugend und Sport (Sports Students’ Builders Brigade from the series Youth and Sport), 1964. Linocut. Collection Andre Odier, Berlin. Courtesy KVOST and Schwules Museum Berlin. Photo: Bernd Borchardt.

Along with well-known artists from the region, Multiple Realities highlights lesser-known figures, particularly women artists, artist collectives, and LGBTQIA+ artists, many of whom remain largely unknown. To provide historical, social, political, and cultural context to artworks on view, interpretative content areas orient viewers geographically within the Eastern Bloc, offer nuanced definitions of terms, and explore the relationship between experimental art and official, government-sanctioned art.

Věra Chytilová , Sedmikrásky (Daisies) (still), 1966. 4K restoration from a 35mm film print (color/black and white, sound). ©Czech Film Fund, Source: Národnı́ filmový archiv / National Film Archiv, Prague.

Věra Chytilová , Sedmikrásky (Daisies) (stills), 1966. 4K restoration from a 35mm film print (color/black and white, sound). ©Czech Film Fund, Source: Národnı́ filmový archiv / National Film Archiv, Prague.

EXHIBITION SPONSORS

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s-1980s is organized by the Walker Art Center with major support provided by Martha and Bruce Atwater. Exhibition research was supported by a curatorial fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The exhibition is curated by Pavel S. Pyś, Curator of Visual Arts and Collections Strategy, at Walker Art Center. Its presentation at Phoenix Art Museum is coordinated by Rachel Sadvary Zebro, associate curator for collections.

     The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts logo

The presentation of Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s-1980s at Phoenix Art Museum is made possible through the generosity of The Opatrny Family Foundation, Joan Cremin, and Men’s Arts Council. In-kind support provided by KJZZ/KBACH.

All exhibitions at Phoenix Art Museum are underwritten by the Phoenix Art Museum Exhibition Excellence Fund, founded by The Opatrny Family Foundation with additional major support provided by Joan Cremin.

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