My aim in this research project is to discuss a development that abstract art and modernist architecture took in Europe during the first decades after the Second World War. The project will discuss how architects and artists from many different fields joined in groups to promote the syntheses of the art forms, which usually meant thinking in terms of built environments.
Three artist organizations are of particular interest in this context: Groupe Espace, founded in France in 1951; and Aspect, founded in Sweden in 1959, and EXAT51 founded in former Yugoslavia 1951. There are interesting similarities and differences between the three. They all departed from the same urge to participate in the (re)construction of society. But with social realism as the official art policy in the Eastern bloc, the EXAT51 philosophy was not in keeping with the ideals of the political power at the time, contrary to what was the case with its Western counterparts.
This research project aims to discuss what consequences these collaborations had for the individual artists in forming their ideas about art, but also what influence this had on the development on an aesthetic level. The project also tries to shed some light on how artistic ideas and ideals are shaped and reshaped when transferred from artist to artist, and from group to group from one political context to another. Finally, the project covers how these artists viewed collaboration, not only with other artists, but also with the new public subject, placed in a democratic environment.
Thus, the project operates on two different levels. On the one hand, it aims to come close to the artists, building on archive material, correspondence, articles where theories about collaborations and participation become important. On the other hand, it tries to say something about these artistic tendencies in relationship to the way society used the environment to “educate” the inhabitants, where it builds on Michel Foucault’s theories on the society of discipline.
In conclusion, the project aims to shed some light over the ways modernist artists worked collectively; an aspect that often is overlooked in art history writing where individual artists, endeavors and exhibitions long have been in focus.