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Preliminary communication

The Oeuvre of the Curator and Art Historian Vlastimir Kusik

Sandra Križić Roban orcid id ; Institute of Art History, Zagreb, Croatia

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page 106-123

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For the first time, this article deals with and evaluates the oeuvre of the art historian, art critic, and curator Vlastimir Kusik (Osijek, 1953–2018), which is entirely dedicated to two large fields—the city of Osijek as a specific place, a space of collective and individual existence, and the selected artists, most of whom are also connected to Osijek. The article does not follow Kusik's writing chronologically, but imitates the author's “flaneuristic” experience, following the trail of his walks through the city, or rather the neuralgic points of the city in which Kusik recognized collective and individual histories and tied them to individual artistic destinies.
Still, several topics that marked Kusik's writing stand out. First of all, there is the notion of the “informel” and the phenomena associated with it, which Kusik dealt with on several occasions, thus contributing to its articulation in the context of Croatian art. He recognized and valued the work of the Virovitica painter Nikola Trick, who in the 1960s created works of a distinctly uterine character, and whose creative and life path Kusik collected in the manuscript Slikarska obitelj Trick [Tricks, the Family of Painters]. Kusik also wrote about other Croatian artists whom art history associates with this phenomenon, such as Željko Jerman, and he organized an exhibition of Wols’ work, which he “paired” with that of Baselitz, allowing the Osijek audience to get acquainted with the work of these artists.
Kusik shared his sensibility for inscribing history into the city space and their artistic confabulation with Ivan Faktor, an artist whose work he also wrote a lot about. The article highlights a text written for the book Hotel Eden, prepared by Ivan Faktor in collaboration with Dutch artists Ron Sluik and Reinier Kurpershoek. It is a story about Marinus van der Lubbe, whom history connects with the 1933 Reichstag fire in Berlin, and whose probable itinerary is recorded in the astonishing photographs of Ron Sluik and Reiner Kurpershoek that were taken in Osijek, among other places, to which the alleged arsonist travelled. In his text, Kusik argues that there is no such thing as an innocent eye, and that every landscape is in fact burdened by endless layers of events that have, for whatever reason, become part of forgotten or silenced history.
In his writing, Kusik paid special tribute to his predecessors, primarily to the character and work of Oto Švajcer. To this long-time associate of the Institute of Art History, a relative unknown, Kusik dedicated not only a text, but also an exhibition. Kusik supplemented this “quiet” text about an almost imperceptible man with frequent references to Švajcer in other articles, in which he not only covered the history of art and the profession that deals with it in Osijek, but also tried to bridge generations in order to consider artistic phenomena and art-historical writings comprehensively and in continuity. Likewise, Kusik did not forget Ilko Gorenčević, whom he connected with the wider European artistic context of which Osijek has long been a part of.
As a native of Osijek, Kusik highlighted and, through his writing, incorporated into the history of Croatian art many artists whom he considered worthy of believing in and remembering. One such example is the sculptor Oskar Nemon, who was his interlocutor in systematic discussions and the subject of texts on his artistic and life path. Another topic to which he paid special attention to was Osijek’s architecture and its architects.


Vlastimir Kusik; Osijek; art criticism; discursive field; city; destiny

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