Curator of the exhibition: Slobodan Jovanović, Department of Contemporary Applied Arts
Organized by: Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade
The retrospective exhibition “Books of Prints” features the works created during almost a half-century-long career of illustrator-caricaturist and graphic designer Jugoslav Vlahović (born in 1949), professor at Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade. The exhibition is conceived as review of his most important works, represented by twelve original author books, which the artist designed and published either by himself or in collaboration with a publisher (except the last one), starting with the book Veni, Vidi, Joke, with which he graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts in 1974, and ending with the most recent, yet unpublished, project The Inventory of Photo Shop. In addition to the works presented in his author books, Vlahović published several thousand caricatures and illustrations in international and domestic magazines and journals, which are shown separately. He illustrated and designed books written by other authors, designed jackets for vinyl gramophone records by pop and rock bands, calendars, posters for various art events, postage stamps and diverse graphic materials that are also featured at the exhibition “Books of Prints”, in Museum of Applied Art.
Vlahović’s career in multimedia begun during his studies, first at Faculty of Architecture in 1968, and then, as of 1969, at Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, at Department of Applied Graphics, cathedra for Book Graphic Design where he studied with Professor Bogdan Kršić. At that time, he played in the famous musical “Hair”, in Atelje 212, and he became one of the founders of the first Yugoslav author acoustic band Family Manufacture of Black Bread (Porodična manufaktura crnog hleba), and of the performance group EQUIPE A3. These various forms of artistic activities, combined, will turn into an ample source of ideas and motives for graphic works created by Jugoslav Vlahović, which we can recognize already in this graduation artwork of 1974. In this book, author carefully analyzes details of everyday life and then creates an illustrated pun by bringing together similar elements of illustration into an unconventional whole.
In his next author book Clarified Case (1986), Jugoslav Vlahović developed the act of representation of an equivocal illustrated pun present in the book Veni, Vidi, Joke. The most of the works were drawn in ink or in tempera, combined with airbrush. At this time, Vlahović started to develop his illustrative pointillist style, which is still one of the major features of his artistic expression. With the caricatures from this period Vlahović’s homo mechanicus becomes homo politicus – “unbeatable and always ready to destroy everything around him” (S. Novaković). During next 30 years, Vlahović publishes ten author books, in which he continues to be illustrator-chronicler of our times.
Apart from working on the twelve author books, Jugoslav Vlahović has been actively engaged in the cooperation with domestic and international newspapers and magazines, as well as with writers, aphorists and poets whose books he designs. These works mark the beginning of the second part of the exhibition “Books of Prints” in Museum of Applied Art, which features the graphic design that Vlahović had done for magazines and books as well as for the covers for the records of rock and pop bands, logotypes, calendars, posters, postage stamps, and other.
Whereas in posters, calendars and exhibition catalogues shown in the exhibition “Books of Prints” Jugoslav Vlahović creates illustrations that are closely related to manifestations which they announce or business whose operations they advertise, this relationship “illustration-illustrated work” becomes more complex when he starts to design editions of books written by novelists and poets. Books that Jugoslav Vlahović designed for various editions – of aphorisms, of poems by Bora Đorđević, for an anthology of the lyrics by Tode Čolak and many other in the total of about fifty items, occupy special place. Social, patriotic, love and lyrical elegies as subjects treated by Professor Čolak in edition “Anthology of Lyrics”, inspired Vlahović to make, for the covers, illustrations that approach the individual areas of lyrics in various ways, but which have common humanist approach to every subject.
During his first visit to New York in 1982, Vlahović’s illustrations and caricatures were published by The New York Times, followed by Time, Wiener Journal, Wiener Zeitung, La Repubblica, Das Sontagsblatt, Die Zeit, Le Monde, Courrier International, and other magazines. Some works were commissioned, and sometimes editors of newspapers and magazines choose illustrations for the texts from Vlahović’s works at hand. His illustrations often take one half of a page, as can be seen in the pages presented in the exhibition “Book of Prints”. His sensitivity for subtle representation of “conquering” of freedom is present in a substantial number of illustrations published in international magazines and newspapers. These characteristics of Vlahović’s poetics contributed to their frequent selection for the title pages of international magazines and newspapers, which rendered them accessible to wider audience and subsequent multiple interpretations.
Ever since the first single of his band Family Manufacture of Black Bread in 1972, Jugoslav Vlahović made graphic designs for about one hundred LP records, cassettes and CDs of various performers. He has been the graphic designer for the rock band Riblja Čorba ever since its foundation, in 1978: he is the author of the symbol of the group (the “fishbone”), and of the logotype of Riblja Čorba, he designed all of the 20 albums recorded by this band, 2 DVDs, as well as commercial and promotional graphic material. In addition to the record jackets for their LPs, he created either photographs, or illustrations and graphic design for the single records’ jackets and records by acoustic, punk, pop and rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s: Bezobrazno Zeleno, Bulevar, Pop Mašina, S vremena na vreme, Alisa, Smak, and other.
One of the main characteristics of the opus of the illustrator-caricaturist and graphic designer Jugoslav Vlahović is the act in which starting from a small quantity of materials the artist works on, there emerges a tense situation, which results in an absurd pun. In the author books shown in the exhibition “Books of Prints”, we can see the graphic works by Jugoslav Vlahović that were presented in the books in ways that the author conceived himself. In the rest of his exhibited works one can perceive the way in which his works were used by editors of magazines in which he still publishes his works, as well as the manner in which Vlahović formulates his works in posters, books, calendars, record jackets and other graphic materials. This two-way activity of this applied arts artist is additionally complemented with the conceptions of individual illustrations and caricatures in form of prints – which Vlahović produced at a point at which there existed a market for prints in Serbia. If we add numerous projects which he realized independently or within certain manifestations, as professor at Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, as author of exhibitions of caricatures and as participant in thousands of collective exhibitions of caricature and illustration worldwide, we get the artist Jugoslav Vlahović who surpasses the level of his own homo mechanicus and homo politicus, and becomes homo universalis. Jugoslav Vlahović continues to work in the field of visual education, with dedication, beyond our exhibition, in the same way in which his caricatures and illustrations carry universal meaning and sense for humor.