Artpool40Active Archives and Art Networks

International Conference of the Artpool Art Research Center

February 20–21, 2020 Museum of Fine Arts, Schickedanz Hall, Budapest

Agustina Andreoletti | Zdenka Badovinac | David Crowley | Katalin Cseh-Varga | Mela Dávila Freire | Lina Džuverović | Meghan Forbes | Daniel Grúň | Sarah Haylett | John Held | Roddy HunterJudit Bodor | Jasna Jakšić – Tihana Puc | Klara Kemp-Welch | Kaja Kraner | Emese Kürti | Karolina Majewska-Güde | Lívia Páldi | Henar Rivière | Sven Spieker | Kristine Stiles | Katalin Timár | Tomasz Załuski | Elisabeth Zimmermann

Jasna Jakšić and Tihana Puc [Biography]
Artists’ Networks in the Context of Institutional and Personal Archives – Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb


The creation of digital archives of modern and contemporary artists, along with archives of exhibitions and art catalogs, has grown significantly over the past decade. Not only has the accessibility of visual and textual material improved, but the structured data produced has encouraged the application of quantitative and computational methods in the analysis of artistic phenomena. These analyses, using data from artist and exhibition archives, have brought valuable insights into circulation, with the configuration of networks arising from the connections between those involved. However, despite the remarkable growth of digital resources, there are still gaps that reflect global unevenness. In particular, this affects the visibility of artists, art production and research from outlying regions. The impact on research is both quantitative (research foci correlate significantly with the availability of data) and qualitative (potentially biased results due to inaccurate, incomplete or missing data).

With regards to the outlined context, the paper focuses on artists in Croatia active after the 1950s, in the context of the holdings of the Documentation and Information Department of Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. The Museum’s archive holdings include an institutional archive of exhibitions and various events and several personal archive collections. Part of the institutional collection is the personal archive of Božo Bek. He was a former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the progressive period of the 1960s when the New Tendencies international movement was founded, and the 1970s, when conceptual art gained institutional recognition and support. Moreover, the personal archive of the artist and designer Ivan Picelj, which was donated to the Museum in 2011, is the largest in the Museum’s holdings. Since Picelj collaborated with the Museum as a designer for several years, his personal archive is a valuable complement to the institutional archive. The institutional archives were partially digitized through specific projects such as Digitizing ideas, Baunet – Experiment with the Avant-Garde, Didactic Exhibition and New Tendencies.

The aims of the presentation are twofold. In the first part, we review the available digital archives of modern and contemporary Croatian artists and the potential for using them as sources for exploring artists’ networks. In the second part, we focus on the overlap between personal and institutional archives as sources for studying the complex artists’ networks that developed mainly through personal contacts within the institutional framework. Finally, some of the archives mentioned gained international recognition through the activities of artists and researchers launched in the 1990s. At that time, the first digital collections were produced, and historical works were treated to new readings. They became part of interpretative constellations applying new curatorial and art-historical approaches end the specific networks in the 1990s.