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International symposium with the project of marking the centenary of the birth of Edo Murtić

Gesture and freedom

Organizers : HDLU i National museum of modern art
Time : June, 8 – June, 13, 2021

The symposium is entitled Gesture and Freedom, and it will mark the centenary of the birth of Edo Murtić, the most notable representative of gestural abstraction and high modernism (in)of Croatia and Yugoslavia, as well as the 60th anniversary of the exhibition Contemporary Art from the USA held in our museum in 1961. The exhibition was curated by Harvard Arnason and featured works by 33 most distinguished representatives of US abstract expressionism.
The key idea of the symposium (a quite utopian one) is based on the notion that within political context of socialist Yugoslavia the (participating?) artists’ free gesture(s) brought in the visual language of abstract expressionism and symbolised social emancipation towards a more democratic society. Of course, it is a far more complex story minding geostrategic political realities of the era. At the time when culture was still used as an argument, Yugoslavian cultural agenda was to promote abstract art as a sign of departure from the SSSR umbrella and its doctrine of social realism. That political attitude was backed by the USA and was in accordance with the US agenda to promote own political supremacy by exhibiting what was the most influential art movement at the time.

**The Contemporary American Art exhibition has had a huge impact in the country. Edo Murtić, who was pursuing gestural abstraction ever after he had returned from the USA where he met Pollock in 1953, became the most influential and celebrated painter of the second half of the century in Croatia and Yugoslavia. The symposium intends to contextualise his oeuvre within that era.

In addition to a one-day symposium at the Westin Hotel, invited participants will have the opportunity to travel to Istria - visit the famous artist's summer studio, learn about future plans of the Murtić Foundation and visit Murtić's mural in Rovinj.

Symposium program

10:00 - Registration of participants

11:00 - Branko Franceschi, director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, curator of the exhibition Murtić 100
Welcome speech and presentation of the project Murtić 100

11:30 - Lina Džuverović, Lecturer, Arts Management and Policy, Birkbeck College, University of London, Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies

12:00 - Zvonko Maković, art historian, poet, essayist
Edo Murtić's Early Years: Controversies over Abstraction

12:30 - Mišela Blanuša, Museum Advisor, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
The position of Murtić's opus within the corpus of abstract art of Yugoslav modernism

13:00 - Lunch and coffee break

15:00 - Branko Franceschi, director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, curator of the exhibition Murtić 100
Recapitulation of morning presentations and introduction to the afternoon session

15:30 - Budimir Lončar, diplomat and personal friend of Edo Murtić
Murtić in New York, observations of a friend

16:00 - Helen A. Harisson, Director, Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, New York, USA
Murtić's New York 1951 (zoom)

16:30 - Joana Grevers, President, Joana Grevers Foundation
Abstract Expresionism behind the Iron Curtain and global Modernisms after 1945.

17:00 - Laura Carlini Fanfogna, Director, Museums and Libraries of the City of Trieste
Colours and gestures behind the borders