archives Jean-Dominique CARRE Contemporary Art
avant-gardes of the sixties and seventies
52 rue mazarine f -75006 paris france
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josip vanista

Josip Vanista's biography by the Museum of Avant-Garde, Zagreb, Croatia.




La Description. 1964

Josip VANISTA: La Description. 1964

Typewiting on paper.

28.7 x 20.6 cm (11 1/2 x 8 1/4")

Dematerialization of the J. Vanista's painting "The Silver Line" (1964):
The work presented here consists simply in a single sheet of A4 paper with only a typed text in Croatian language on one side, describing the painting.

Translation of the text into English:

A canvas in horizontal format
width 180 cm, height 140 cm.
A silver line in the center of the canvas
/ width 180 cm, height 3 cm /


A few copies of this work have been created by J. Vanista.
Each is unique, originally typed by J. Vanista with the same typewriter.

One of them is in the MoMA's collection:
Vanista: La Description

As usual, this work is signed by hand on a paper label also containing the typed description of the work in Croatian, pasted on the back on the wooden frame:


Translation into English of the text on the paper label:

Josip Vanista: Picture. Description.
Text typewritten on paper, 1964
Feb. 28,7 cm x 20,4 cm

Acquired from the artist by a private collector.
Condition: Excellent.

Successive stages of the dematerialization of the work:

- 1959: at the origin, a drawing of a more or less abstract landscape, then the photograph of this drawing exhibited in a show with two others.
- 1959-1964: overpainting: the photograph of the drawing is covered with a thin layer of white paint and bisected it horizontally with a ruler-drawn black line.
- 1964: the painting, the silver line on white background, disappears, existing then only in this form, its own description, a typed text on a paper sheet.


Excerpts form Josip Vanista: "The Endless Line", (MoMA):

J. Vanista: “The line appears at the very beginning of my work, on the first drawings and paintings. It appeared in its most radical form between 1962 and 1964, as a silver line on a white background or a black line on a gray background. It was shown at an exhibition reduced to only the typed description, ‘A silver line on a white background, height 3 cm, length 180 cm, canvas size 140 x 180 cm,’ dematerialized and developed into a concept. This was in about 1964.
Christian Rettemeyer:
"Translation, repetition, dematerialization. Collectively, these works transform a radical (albeit modernist) gesture of pictorial abstraction and change its purpose, meaning, and thrust. The painted photograph úbermalung still insists on the continuity between landscape and Vanista’s single horizontal line, the latter a remnant of the former, wrought from it through processes of removal and reduction. The drawings, paintings, and collages, repetitions of the same or similar gesture of the horizontal line, establish a repertoire of variations. But the typewritten text transforms the exercise on a single line into its idea; the written description conjures a transformation from object to definition, from abstraction to concept, from material to immaterial. It is tempting to situate Vanista’s horizontal lines within a field of similar conceptual trajectories and instruction-based artworks that occur around the same time in the West and elsewhere: they share characteristics with Roman Opalka’s Details (begun in 1965), Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs (1965), and Sol LeWitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art (1969)."

See the MoMA's page where these excerpts come from: MoMA, Vanista







We are interested in purchasing artist books, multiples, prints and unique works of art by this artist.
Please contact us.

Nous sommes intéressés par l'achat de livres d'artiste, estampes, multiples et oeuvres uniques de cet artiste.
Merci de nous contacter.





archives Jean-Dominique CARRE Contemporary Art
avant-gardes of the sixties and seventies
52 rue mazarine f -75006 paris france
tel. (33)(0)1 43 54 12 64
archives.carre (at)

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