A new cross-border show at the Museum of Contemporary Art pays tribute to the Bauhaus artists of the region.
A co-production involving galleries from Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia, ‘The Bauhaus: Networking Ideas and Practice’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art looks at the southeast-European artists who passed through the famous art school between 1919 and 1933 – and the long-term influences they exerted over their home countries. Paintings, graphics and collages by artists such as Avgust Černigoj from Slovenia, Ivana Tomljenović-Meller from Croatia and Austrian Hubert Hoffmann have the clarity and freshness of something that could have been produced only yesterday; proof, if any were needed, of the enduring influence of the Bauhaus over the contemporary imagination. Tomljenović-Meller (1906-1988) is very much a legend of the Croatian avant-garde, a champion sportswoman as well as an artist who specialised in photography and photo-montage at the Bauhaus. A dedicated left-winger, her most famous work is Dictatorship in Yugoslavia, an agit-prop piece of photomontage featuring King Aleksandar Karađorđević in militaristic pose. By avoiding the Kandinskys and the Klees and focusing instead on some of the lesser-known names, this exhibition conveys a rich sense of the creativity of the time, with student sketches and experiments in photography well to the fore. It also shows what it was like to be a Bauhaus student, with photos of communal meals, fancy-dress parties, and picnics. Tomljenović-Meller’s student ID card, with its neat, modernist typography, exudes an aura of timeless cool.