Empty Plots – Art and Environment in Latvia in the 1970s

Jānis Osis design for the Celebrations exhibition, Riga, 1972 (LCCA archive)

This short essay was written for a publication accompanying the Visionary Structures exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels, opening in January 2015. In the early 1970s Environment occupied a central place in the lexicon of art and design on both sides of the Cold War divide. It was not, of course, a newly-coined term: more than a … Continue reading

Pop Effects in Eastern Europe under Communist Rule

In September 1974 Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid exhibited four works at an exhibition of nonconformist art in Moscow, which had been reluctantly permitted by the authorities. Two weeks earlier, the artists had had an artwork – a double self-portrait as Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin – destroyed in the notorious demolition of the ‘Bulldozer … Continue reading

Autonomy. The cover designs of Anarchy 1961-1970

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The political philosophy of Anarchism attracted some extraordinary and perhaps unlikely British adherents. They included Alex Comfort, an expert on the science of aging and author of the bestselling The Joy of Sex;  Herbert Read, the poet and critic who wrote incisively about modern art; and Colin Ward, an architect whose ideas about the importance … Continue reading

Roman Cieślewicz, Changement de Climat, 1976-77

In the 1970s Cieślewicz turned his scalpel on the magazines which had given him employment in Paris in the 1960s. In a number of commissioned and self-initiated series, he mixed contemporary commercial images with reproductions of historical paintings. Renaissance artists Durer, Uccello and Bronzino as well as David all feature. He called the resulting works … Continue reading