Behind the Yugoslav art movement that predicted the birth of digital art – The Calvert Journal
Feeding neo-abstraction, the precocious premonitions of op-art and the beginnings of computer art, New Tendencies represents one of the forgotten avant-gardes of Europe. From the abstract paintings of ‘meanders’ produced obsessively by New Tendencies accustomed Julije Knifer, to the swirling kaleidoscopic patterns of Miroslav Šutej and the computer-generated light installations of Vladimir Bonačić, New Tendencies seemed to save the waning Modernist tradition and him provide a new feeling of energy and power. With a focus on the role of new technologies in defining how artists see their world and communicate with their audiences, he anticipated everything from video art to bio-art and robotics. Established in a communist maverick country open to the west, it also emphasized the social role of the artist and promotes the idea of collective work in an attempt to overturn the “bourgeois” myth of the artist by as a lonely genius.
But the role of New Trends in the history of art has been shouted out by stronger and less ambiguous trends. As an ever-evolving association of like-minded artists spread across a vast geographic area, it has never had a manifesto to decipher or dissect for academics and critics. By chance, it also took root in a country which, as important as it may have been in the 1960s, simply no longer exists today.