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Local Contexts / International Networks – Avant-Garde Magazines in Central Europe (1910–1935)

International conference       |       Kassák  Museum  Budapest       |       17–19 September 2015

The subject of the conference is the ‘Central European avant-garde magazine’, arguably the most important medium of communication for progressive literature and visual arts in the region during and after WWI. Given the multifaceted nature of the phenomenon, the analysis will take an interdisciplinary perspective and employ several different approaches. The avant-garde magazine will be examined as a discursive space of avant-garde communication, as a Gesamtkunstwerk, and as a historical document. As the recent conjuncture in scholarship positions the art of the region in the international context, our aim is to draw more attention to the interrelationships between the local contexts and international networks of Central European avant-gardes.

How did the different cultural and historical characteristics affect the ‘local’ avant-gardes of Central Europe? How are the avant-garde magazines of Central Europe related to each other? Accordingly, how could ‘Central European avant-gardes’ be described from the perspectives of Kraków, Warsaw, Prague, Bratislava or Budapest? Through detailed case studies, the conference will emphasize the complex and problematic nature of Central European avant-garde magazines regarding the questions of national/local and international/cosmopolitan. The conference includes monographic, thematic and problem-oriented lectures on current research on local avant-garde magazines published during WWI and in the interwar period.

 

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|| PROGRAM

 

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|| ABSTRACTS

 

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|| PLENARY I. 

 

Edit Sasvári, Kassák Museum

The Kassák Museum in Central and East European perspective

 

The Kassák Museum is the only thematic museum of avant-garde art in Hungary. Its interest focuses on the intellectual endeavours of the avant-garde movement and particularly one of its most important medium, its journals. The talk takes a questioning rather than a discursive outlook, and considers some issues that have arisen out of work in the museum and seem to point the way towards an understanding of the complex problem of the historical avant-garde.

In the majority of Central-Eastern European countries, the avant-garde is absorbed into national constructions of art. This prompts the question of how national concepts of culture relate to avant-garde phenomena. Although modernist avant-garde art made early and impressively sovereign appearances in the art of these countries, the prevailing historical view is that modernism took effect only in the periphery of their national cultures. We would now like to address the possibility of reframing the image of Central-East European national cultures in such a way that modernism and the avant-garde show up in a more central position.

 

Eszter Balázs, Kodolányi János University of Applied Arts

‘Artist and Public Intellectual, Artist or Public Intellectual’ – Polemics of the Hungarian avant-garde on New Art during WWI

 

The overwhelming majority of European intellectuals backed their state and supported the war, some until the very end: there was little room for maneuver and it was particularly impossible to avoid being caught up in the ‘war culture’. Similarly, the first years of WWI saw Hungarian intellectuals’ resistance to political and economic powers diminish. As in other European countries, Hungarian modernism came under the fire of a national backlash. Hungarian press and periodicals overtly supporting the Great War trumpeted their moral victory over the “intellectuals” (a term borrowed from the French vocabulary). In periodicals that until then had defended literary autonomy, writers abstained from portraying themselves any longer as autonomous intellectuals. During the years 1914–1915, even Nyugat (West) and Huszadik Század (Twentieth Century), the two most important platforms of the pre-war figure of the autonomous intellectual, took part, at least at the beginning, in supporting the war effort. Even later on, their anti-war attitude was not enough vigorous.

However, we can not reduce the entire spectrum of intellectual debate and opinion to these positions. A new feature in the history of intellectuals appeared: the dissent. The most important platform of Hungarian dissents was the emerging avant-garde movement (with its journals), founded by the writer Lajos Kassák. This movement dared to adopt a vigorous anti-war stance by firmly opposing the war and calling for it to end immediately. From that point of view the Hungarian avant-garde opposed to a great many Futurists’ stance and, to the contrary, was close to a certain number of German Expressionists’ attitude. At the same time it challenged the Hungarian pre-war literary and aesthetic modernism as well.

In this paper I will present the way definitions of ‘new art’ and ‘new artist’ had been changed until the end of WWI and how the notion of the ‘intellectual’ became once again a legitim self-representation among certain Hungarian writers and artists. In the avant-garde journal A Tett (The Action) (1915–1916) ‘new art’ and ‘new artist’ were conceived in opposition to traditional modernism. However, in Ma (Today) (edited in Budapest during the war), ‘new art and artist’ were specified in inner polemics, too. Youngsters of the journal emphasized a warrior-like artiste and a new – a leftist – figure of the ‘intellectual’ which lead, in partly, to their break-up with the founder, Lajos Kassák. I would argue that the avant-garde journals which emerged during WWI contributed significantly to the thinking about new roles and functions of the ‘artist’ as well as of the ‘intellectual’.

 

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|| PLENARY II.

 

Merse Pál Szeredi, Kassák Museum

The politics of artistic utopia – Lajos Kassák and MA in Vienna (1920–1925)

 

After the fall of the 1919 Budapest Commune the progressive Hungarian intelligentsia was forced into an obligatory Viennese emigration. The magazine MA was published during the exile years in radically changed social and artistic context, which framed extensive debates on the social status of abstract art. Aside from the isolated struggle of the Hungarian émigré circles their Viennese reception was also defined by the discourse that opposed the cosmopolitanism of avant-garde to the national notions of modernism. In the presentation I examine the change in the Activists’ political and artistic Utopia, focusing on the local and international cultural and ideological context of MA during the early 1920s.

 

Gábor Dobó, Kassák Museum

“Extraterrestrials in Budapest” – Self-description of Kassák’s avant-garde magazine Dokumentum (1926–1927)

 

Probably less revolutionary then MA, Kassák’s following magazine was limited to the act of  “documenting” contemporary artistic and social phenomena. Indeed, Dokumentum (1926–1927) published notes, analyses and even artistic interpretations of technical, industrial, social and artistic innovations from autobuses to surrealist poesy, considering them “representations” of a new epoch. My presentation deals with the contradictions between the self-description of Dokumentum, as an almost scientific journal, and the critiques written by other intellectuals who, on the contrary, recognized the journal as the newest radical “left-wing futurist” magazine of Kassák. 

 

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|| SESSION I.

 

Oliver Botar, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

Moholy-Nagy: Art as Information / Information as Art

 

One of László Moholy-Nagy’s most provocative notions was that art was first and foremost a form of information. This idea tied in to his belief that the idea was primary in a work of art, whereas its execution was secondary, meaning that there was no good reason not to subcontract the step of actually making an artwork when this was convenient. Taking as the point of departure a conviction that the concept (rather than its execution) formed the core of an artwork, it was no great leap to assert that art was a form of knowledge, which, just like any other form of knowledge, could be translated into information and transmitted, via an agreed code, to anyone willing and able to manufacture it. If art could be a form of information, it also followed that information could be a form of art: Moholy-Nagy put much effort into ensuring that his publications were designed and printed to the highest standards possible. In this respect, he learned a great deal from working with Lajos Kassák, a pioneer of the new typography and book design, who first set the standards Moholy-Nagy would subsequently follow. Wrapping his broad-based notion of integrating art and life, what he (following Walter Gropius) referred to as the “Gesamtwerk,” in beautifully designed periodicals and book series, Moholy-Nagy effectively aestheticized his publications, drawing them into the realm of the Gesamtkunstwerk. While his conception of the “Enamel” (“Telephone”) pictures in 1923 suggested the notion of “art as information,” his publication projects of the 1920s landed foursquare in the realm of “information as art.”

 

Jindrich Toman, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Moholy Nagy’s idea of a Synthetic Journal

 

In 1925, the Czech avant-garde magazine Pásmo published an article by László Moholy-Nagy entitled Richtlinien für eine Synthetische Zeitschrift. The first part of this manifesto calls for the necessity of a new kind of journal that would address “alle Forschungen und Ergebnisse auf allen Arbeitsgebieten des Menschen.” The second part of the text consists of a long list that outlines the range of topics that the journal should cover – the list is highly modernist, including “electric variété,” “wireless photography transmission,” but also questions of non-Euclidian geometry. The present paper discusses Moholy-Nagy’s proposal. Three concepts seem interesting: synthesis, magazine, and guidelines. We first draw attention to the persistence of the idea of synthesis in the avant-garde, and try to position Moholy-Nagy’s text on the utopian “map of modern synthesis”.  We then turn to the idea that it should be a magazine that would be the tool of Moholy-Nagy’s vision; we show, among other things, that the idea of a broadly based “panoramic,” or “synthetic” magazine was not really new. What was new was its content – new life, new spirit, and a radical reevaluation of the old – and, above all, the insistence on images. Finally, we briefly discuss the normative nature of Moholy-Nagy’s manifesto and the role of lists and outlines that specify the contents of modernity item by item.

 

Sonia de Puineuf, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, Brest

“Syntetische Zeitschrift” – Study cases Nová Bratislava and Nový Svet

 

In 1925, the Czech magazine Pásmo published a short paper titled Richtlinien für eine Syntetische Zeitschrift in which its author László Moholy-Nagy described the complex nature of a true modern magazine. Appealing for the transdisciplinarity (art, science, techniques, crafts, etc.), the Hungarian artist was convinced that it was the only way for reaching the “organization of life”, the ultimate aim of the international avant-garde movement. This statement by Moholy-Nagy is the ideal starting point for examining the origins and particularities of avant-garde magazines. As study cases, I would present two magazines, both published during the interwar period in Slovakia: Nový Svet (New World) and the much more short-lived Nová Bratislava (New Bratislava). The first one is an illustrated magazine, while the second one is clearly conceived as an avant-garde magazine. As we will see, their meeting point is the year 1932. The questions emerging in this comparison relate to the intention, content, graphic form, editorial networks and international references of these two magazines which both symbolize, even through different topics, the raise of modern Slovak identity in the fast-changing political situation.

 

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|| SESSION II.

 

Lucie Česálková, Masaryk University, Brno

Artuš Černík between national and media contexts

 

With an example of Brno Devětsil and its main figure Artuš Černík, this paper aims to highlight performative dimension of the avant-garde as a valuable source of study. Brno Devětsil, as well as Černík himself of Czech film avant-garde, has so far been grossly underrated by “traditional” art history – mostly due to the lack of surviving material artworks. Yet the activities of Brno Devětsil were quite broad (from organising lectures, film screenings, and other social events, e.g. regular “Eight o’Clocks” and the “eccentric carnival of artists”, to poetistic film scripts and libretos). In this paper, I will focus on multimedia and international overlaps of the Brno avant-garde, taking into account the broader cultural and political circumstances of its existence.

 

Vendula Hnídková, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Art History, Prague

Styles of Styl – Platform for Czech modern architecture

 

Styl, a Czech art journal focused on architecture, urban planning and design, has two lives that are divided by WWI. From its beginnings in 1908, Styl performed a defense of modern aspirations. Yet, the form and content of the “modern” has radically changed over time. Before the war, the journal attempted to persuade a local conservative public that the presented artistic visions manifest the modern approach towards architecture. After the war, the architects joined in Společnost architektů (Architects Association), the publisher of Styl, conquered positions within Czechoslovak establishment and strived for improvement of architecture in general. Between the years 1920–1938 the language of modernism changed several times, meaning radical different positions during the period.

 

Przemysław Strożek, Polish Academy of Sciences, Institute of Art, Warsaw

Chaplin goes viral – Avant-garde publications and the images of popular culture

 

The recent studies on modernism promote interdisciplinary and intermedial research on experimental aesthetics and poetics, and aim to encourage an interest in the cultural dimensions and contexts of the avant-garde. On the one hand, the recent Oxford volume of Modernist Magazines (2013) shows the idea of avant-garde activity as a networked exchange across borders and the role of magazines in characterizing European modernisms. On the other, Lev Manovich – the main theoretician of new media culture – recognizes that the 1920s avant-garde techniques were transformed into the conventions of modern human-computer interface and software (2002). My lecture is an attempt to combine these two recent field of modernist studies. I intend to show avant-garde activity both as “networked exchange” and as a prefiguration of today’s “software”. In the centre of this problem I put images of Charlie Chaplin, which were distributed in 1920s avant-garde magazines throughout the world, highlighting him as the most recognizable icon of popular culture, as well as the leader of the 3rd International. In doing so, I want to discuss, if the very term “viral” – the process of sharing in today's new media – could be applied to modernist studies on avant-garde publications.

 

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|| SESSION III.

 

Kinga Siewior, Jagiellonian University, Faculty of Polish Studies, Kraków

From aesthetics to anthropology – The concept of East in Zenit magazine

 

In my presentation, I will discuss the concept of East and its changeable status in the magazine Zenit. I will particularly focus on Ljubomir Micić’s manifestoes to show how the concept changes from aesthetics (rhetoric figure) to anthropological and – eventually – political construct as well as to point its emanticipatory and subversive potential. Not only is it the distinctive trophe in artistic (anti-tradicional and cosmopolitan) movement that constitued the specificity of South Slavic avant-garde, but it is also considerably connected to the political context of 1st Jugoslavia, national identity and Slavs’ place in the modern European culture. The figure of East (and Barbarogenius) as the gesture of mimicry and irony turns out to be useful in the reflection on the history of local avant-gardes in terms of centre-periphery relations.

 

Jakub Kornhauser, Jagiellonian University, Faculty of Polish Studies, Kraków

From repulsion to attraction – A long story of surrealism in Romanian avant-garde magazines

 

The lecture examines the evolution of surrealist ideas in Romanian avant-garde magazines of the 1920s and 1930s (Integral, unu, alge) from the wider, Central-European perspective. The point of departure of my approach is an ambiguous status of surrealism in two (or better: three) parts (or: waves) of Romanian avant-garde. The first one, connected to Ilarie Voronca’s post-constructivist theory of Integralism (from the mid-twenties), rejects Breton’s postulates as “not corresponding to rhythm of new reality” (in the manifesto Integralism and Surrealism from Integral, 1925). The second one (especially in unu magazine, from 1928 to 1932) is linked with the move away from Integralism to surrealism, underlined by such texts as Geo Bogza’s Creative Exasperation or Rehabilitation of the Dream, both from 1931. This movement, characterised by the return of Surrealist theories of objective chance, convulsive love, etc. This tendency is bolstered by new ephemeral magazines (like alge). The third one – form the late 1930s to 1946–1947) is a vehement reception of surrealist dogmas (also in institutional meaning – the Romanian Surrealist Group was founded), but without a proper expression in magazines (the expected Gradiva was not finally published): this role was took over by series editions, like Infra-Noir or Colecţia suprarealistă. This evolution differs form the pro-surrealist aura in Serbian or Czech magazines of the 1920s, despite the development of the other, local avant-garde movements like Zenithism or Hipnism in Belgrade or Poetism in Prague; the fact is, they wasn’t so anti-surrealist as Integralism and quickly accepted Breton’s theories.

 

Dušan Barok, Monoskop, Bratislava

Body of Thought – Artists’ texts and their contribution to theory

 

Subjected to the editorship of the artists themselves, many of the self-published magazines in the beginning of the 20th century emerged as forums for artists to criticise and theorise their own practice. Their first-person essayistic prose had begun adopting techniques of art criticism, political commentary, and poetry and developing into forms ranging from artistic statements, through theoretico-historical essays to programmatic declarations. Viewed from today’s perspective of artistic research and other blossoming forms of artistic writing, this phenomenon offers itself as a historical ground giving way to another kind of art theory: artists’ theory.

 

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|| SESSION IV.

 

Klára Prešnajderová, Slovak Design Museum, Bratislava

Two magazines with two different concepts – Slovenská Grafia and Nová Bratislava

 

When we look at the modernization of Slovakia in the interwar period, there appears almost by every initiative the name Antonín Hořejš. This Czech art theoretician, publicist and one of the founders of the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava, was also the man behind the two most important modern art magazines of this time – Slovenská Grafia (Slovak Graphy) and Nová Bratislava (New Bratislava). These two magazines appeared in parallel and had a quite different concept. On one hand we have a magazine dedicated to the improvement of the Slovak letterpress, introducing modern typography and international trends to the Slovak audience. On the other hand there is a left oriented critical international magazine pointing up the social aspect of architecture, photography and applied arts. Which of these two concepts was more international, the Slovak written Slovenská Grafia focused on international trends, or Nová Bratislava, a bilingual magazine, focused on counteracting effects of the crisis in Slovakia?

 

Michał Burdziński, University of Warsaw, Institute of Applied Polish Studies, Warsaw

How much did our graphic arts fly aloft? On defining the spirit of avant-garde pretensions in an impecunious world

 

During the speech I should like to look through and compare the contents of selected interwar magazines, such as Grafika polska, Typografie, Slovenská Grafia, Magyar Grafika as well as Ľudovít Fulla and Mikuláš Galanda’s Súkromné listy, then to anatomize them in terms of the widely known axis of investigation concerning the tension between “modernized tradition” and “newfangled semiotic-formal disentanglement”. Also, the task of this paper is to assess some fundamental aspects of the authors’ aspirations and publishing pursuits that had been erected in the name of “changing mundane, ordinary reality” on one hand, and of “promoting l’art pour l’art” on the other. In accordance with the subject of preoccupation, scientific oscillation between the four contexts: aesthetic, economic, sociological and political one, seems to remain the most fruitful methodology to debate about the imagined, desired, theoretical and the real dimension of the Central European avant-gardes in the 1920s and 1930s. The example of graphic culture that was worked out within the square of specialized journalism by four adjacent societies, or rather their tenacious and assiduous narrow communities, becomes a great contribution to examining the use and limits of the term avant-garde itself, as percolated and explored by both the artists of that time and contemporary researchers.

 

Hanna Marciniak, Charles University, Institute for Czech and Comparative Literature, Prague

The D Programme and the Czech avant-garde in the 1940s

 

The second half of the 1930s has been under the sign of a strong stratification of the avant-garde and left-wing oriented cultural movement, when many new tendencies arise. On the other hand, what predominated that period, was a strong scepticism towards the avant-garde as such. Avant-garde art and art theory would be labelled as burnt-out, redundant, conservative, unable to grasp the rhythm of modern life, to mention some of the popular opinions going around that time. Plenty of new groups, institutions, and periodicals that came into existence between 1935 and 1940 might be regarded as the voice of the new generation, born in the second decade of the 20th century. One of the strongest and the most consolidated groups, in terms of programme as well as its non-changing members, was Skupina 42 (The 42 Group). 

In my presentation, I would like to focus on the two of numerous avant-garde periodicals issued in the Czechoslovak Republic in the late 30s. One of them, known as Kulturní večerník D 34 (The D34 Cultural Evening Paper), then renamed as Program D (The D Programme), has been designed as a theatre programme booklet in the first place but thanks to many various contributors (Jindřich Chalupecký, Kamil Bednář,  Ivan Blatný, Karel Teige, to name only some of them) and key manifests it turned out to be one of the most important avant-garde critical and theroretical revues of that period. Another periodical, called Kritický měsíčník (The Ciritical Monthly Magazine), with its editor in chief, Václav Černý, has been designed as a full-bodied critical revue from the very beginning, focused on philosophy, literature, and art. It pushed for the non-ideological existentialist literature and art free from "isms" and vulgar propaganda, which complied with the programme of Skupina 42 where Chalupecký, Blatný, and Bednář belonged.

 

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|| SESSION V.

 

Markéta Theinhardt, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris

L’Art et les Artistes: Revue mensuelle d’art ancien et moderne (1905–1939) – Central European art between modernism and conservatism

 

Founded in 1905 by Armand Dayot, L’Art et les Artistes was an illustrated fine arts magazine providing information about contemporary art framed by significant essays on ancient or classic art.  From this point of view the magazine was quite near to the conception of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts with which it shared a number of authors (Leonce Bénedicte, Camille Mauclair, Gabriel Mourey, William Ritter, etc.). The tendency of this magazine was generally modernist with conservatist inclinations. Covering in its beginnings quite systematically the cultural area of Central and Northern Europe, L’Art et les Artistes represents a precious source for studies in the complex history of the reception and of the “internationalization” process of Central European art preceding avant-garde attitudes. The present lecture proposes an interpretation of the perception of Central European art  in articles published in L’Art et les Artistes on the background of the beginnings oft the avant-garde communication system and in context of French art criticism in the period of 1905–1914.       

 

Lenka Bydžovská, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Art History, Prague

On the extreme left? The Devětsil monthly ReD in international networks (1927–1931)

 

In the first editorial statement, ReD (Review Devětsil) was described as a “synthetic journal of international modern cultural production“ which stressed an unambiguous ideological challenge: “ReD is a red beacon of the coming new cultural epoch.“ ReD aligned itself with the avant-garde magazines of the late 1920s, which had inspired its content and form (Das Neue Frankfurt, Novy LEF, Documentum, Dźwignia). At that time, it became the only collective platform for Devětsil members whose cultural-political and art activities were involved into international avant-garde movements. The paper will focus on the visual strategy used in ReD. It will show how Karel Teige, both editor-in-chief and art director of ReD, presented internationalism of new art, as well as admiration for the Soviet Union on the one hand and sharp criticism of bourgeois society and its institutions on the other hand. Special attention will be paid to the question of censorship. I would like to examine Teige´s concept of an avant-garde journal and its relations to mass media, its reflection of traditional art magazines and new commercial art journals. It is significant that increasing tension between Teige´s vision of a broad avant-garde movement with clear political orientation and different points of view within Devětsil resulted in the birth of several parallel avant-garde journals around the year 1930 (Zvěrokruh, Kvart, etc.).

 

Vojtěch Lahoda, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Art History, Prague

Global Art History “avant la lettre” – The Case of Umělecký měsíčník (1911–1914)

 

In 1911, Skupina výtvarných umělců (The Group of Fine Artists) was founded in Prague, and began to publish the art journal Umělecký měsíčník (Art Monthly). The editors and contributors were mostly artists themselves, members of the Group. Besides articles on the situation of the new the art journal published articles on the old arts and especially reproductions of artworks of different eras and cultures from the past. Visual discourse through published reproductions should support the universal status of the new art: it should be as universal as the art of different cultures and periods. That is why the Umělecký měsíčník published alongside reproductions of Picasso texts and reproductions of the European art from prehistory to the present as well as non-European cultures from India, Persia, China, Africa and Oceania. The Almanch Der Blaue Reiter from 1912 followed the Art Monthly in transcultural strategy of the presentation of artistic creativity. This concept of involvement new art into a global art was based on the notion that non-European art and the art of distant cultures is possible to read and understand thanks to the attention to a form and formal principles of specific artwork. The conviction of the same importance of distant cultural products and artifacts and new art meant a precursor to today’s interest in the world art and global art history.

  

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|| SESSION VI.

 

Piotr Rypson, National Museum in Warsaw

Tadeusz Peiper’s strategy for Zwrotnica magazine

 

Tadeusz Peiper, Polish avant-garde poet and theoretician started an international avant-garde art and literary magazine in 1922. The first series of Zwrotnica appeared in 1922–1923. The presentation is an attempt in reconstructing the editor’s strategy, that has pushed the avant-garde discourse in a new direction at the beginning of that decade. Peiper's collaborations and decisions will be analyzed in the context of his program and manifestos.

 

Michalina Kmiecik, Jagiellonian University, Faculty of Polish Studies, Kraków

The aftermath of Zwrotnica? Kraków avant-garde and its magazines in the 1930s

 

Kraków avant-garde in the 1920s had its own powerful publishing platform. The magazine Zwrotnica, created and edited by Tadeusz Peiper, gave young poets a theoretical background as well as an opportunity to present their work to the wider audience (both in the magazine and in Zwrotnica’s library). In the 1930s, after Zwrotnica’s collapse, three poets – Jalu Kurek, Jan Brzękowski and Julian Przyboś – were trying to revive the magazine, but Peiper is no longer interested in that collaboration. In my paper I would like to examine the diverging ways of Kraków avant-garde members and compare their new activities by reconstructing the history of two periodicals: Kurek’s Linia and Brzękowski’s L’art contemporain – Sztuka współczesna. I would also like to focus on Przyboś’s cooperation with Władysław Strzemiński in the a.r. group: the poet’s participation in creating the a.r. statements and Strzemiński’s idea for a new magazine called Linia awangardy that was supposed to become a new platform for the whole constructivist movement in Poland. Analysing contents of these magazine will show what impact had Zwrotnica in the 1930s, and will also demonstrate how Peiper’s disciples tried to overcome its influence. The last issue I would like to examine is Peiper’s own ideas for a new periodical that he discussed in his articles later published in O wszystkim i jeszcze o czymś. The main questions they pose are: did Peiper want to break with his former theories and practices presented in Zwrotnica? How was he imagining the future of the avant-garde in Poland? And – last but not least – why did he not want to collaborate with colleagues from the Kraków avant-garde anymore?

 

Michał Wenderski, Adam Mickiewicz University, Faculty of English, Poznań

Between Poland and the Low Countries – Mutual relations and cultural exchange between constructivist magazines and avant-garde formations

 

In January 1924 Flemish avant-garde magazine Het Overzicht (The Overview) published a list of its congenial modernist formations entitled ‘Het Netwerk.’ It named 19 magazines from Europe, United States or Brazil, including Polish Zwrotnica, which exemplified close and direct relationships between avant-garde artists from Poland and the Low Countries. Their avant-garde formations were related to each other regardless of apparent cultural and linguistic boundaries – not only via other groups (e.g. French or German), but also directly based on personal contacts between their representatives. The close ties between Polish, Dutch and Belgian formations were directly reflected in their periodicals as well as in the correspondence between the artists – joined in their pursuit of modern art, and exceeding national and linguistic frontiers, Polish, Dutch and French – written magazines exchanged and re-published each other’s texts and artworks providing information on each other’s activities and literary or artistic novelties. Based on such tangible traces I will discuss the history and the maelstroms of cultural exchange between Dutch, Belgian and Polish avant-gardes as an example of European interwar cultural mobility between two distant, yet congenial parts of the continent.

 

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