Art for Art is a project featured in the fifth edition of Slovak art magazine 365 °, published by the Slovak National Gallery in 2019. It comprises a series of posters that combine classical paintings with contemporary headlines reflecting current social issues. The historical context of the images stems from the works of the Russian constructivists, followed by that of American conceptual artists like Jenny Holzer and Barbara Kruger.
As Alexandra Kusá, director of the Slovak National Gallery and project curator, wrote in her curatorial text: “Similar to Kruger’s work on the combination of word and image, this series of collages directly responds to the visual twist, which is, so to speak, the imperative of our current times. At first glance, the Art for Art project, with its visual form, resembles a series of advertisements or visual statuses. However, it’s clearly a multi-layered typographic work, prepared for an atypical ‘exhibition’ space.
The selection of works, typography, and location are programmatically beautiful and comply quite openly with the visual sophistication typical of large art museums, thereby completely obscuring the subversive combination of classical painting and boldly contemporary text. The visual is a functional, aesthetic varnish that disguises a modern iconoclastic moment, the collage consisting of ‘premium’ oil paintings — a unique work, not a reproducible photograph – onto which is added the author’s text in advertising form.
These collages, or rather, the author’s camouflaging technique, offer an intelligent, up-to-date representation of the collections of Slovak and Czech museums. But there is more to it. The art of the past is being tested here, twice, as we ask ourselves whether paintings can work well in a context other than an artistic one, and whether a dialogue can be established. It examines whether we can create a framework for historical art in which contemporary content can be conveyed, such that not only is nothing of its previous meaning lost, but that its meaning is further enriched by a new reading that is intrinsically linked. In fact, the series reflects the effort made by the art museum to work with its existing content, not only mediating it but presenting it as a tool for learning about the contemporary world.
The series talks about art from a position where, suddenly, it is not the object of admiration (as in ritual worship in the museum context), but can be mastered as part of everyday life.