Christine Ljubanovic, who was born in Zams, Tyrol, in 1939, and now lives in Paris, is a photographer, a graphic and, first of all, a conceptual artist. On the occasion of her eightieth birthday, in the summer of 2019, we dedicate her a comprehensive solo exhibition and present works by her created between 1965 and 2018. In her art, Ljubanovic cannot be pinned downed to one style. Her artistic practice, much rather, could be described through the technique of collecting, which she has made a contemporary witness to her art, as it were, in long-term studies.
Thus, between 1974 and 2014, close to five hundred black-and-white portraits of artists, curators and companions have come about. Among them are well-known personalities such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, Robert Fleck, Peter Weibel, but also colleagues like the Tyrolean artist Richard Hoeck, Ingeborg Strobl, Thomas Hirschhorn, Arnulf Rainer, and many others. The portrait, in each case, is deliberately staged and constitutes a psychogram of the person portrayed. These portrait series are presented on the contact sheet, exposed in their original size, holding around 24 or 36 images. By way of the picture sequence, the viewer is able to recreate the recording situation and read a story into the meeting between model and photographer. Hans Ulrich Obrist, photographed by Ljubanovic in 1996, wrote this on the project: “Dear Christine, your book is a protest against forgetting. Also: As Ansel Adams said: You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
In other work series the artist dealt with typologies, inventories and archives, which she also assembled over long periods of time. In impressit ALPHABETS & SIGNS, LETTERS/LANDS, created between 1983 and 1993, she researched all printing techniques known around the world and visited the respective places and printing workshops. The result was an alphabet, whose twenty-six letters she designed typographically in association with the respective culture and had produced in collaboration with the respective printing expert. In this way, a total of forty different variants of letters emerged. Her research, in the process, ranged from very old to the latest techniques, and included woodcut, typography, aquatint, stencils, phototype, offset, etc. For instance, she visited Andy Warhol’s factory, with which she printed the letter R. Another interest of hers, for decades, has been the inventory of colours, pigments, patterns and scales – called in short F/P/M/S by the artist (for Farben, Pigmente, Muster, Skalen). In painstaking research she travels to their places of origin, for colours have places, and places have colours. She collects pigments and catalogues them, listing their countries of origin, type of rock, etc. The list includes colours made from ore minerals, rocks and gemstones, powdered glass, plants or historical pigments. “In the project FARBEN/PIGMENTE/MUSTER/SKALEN original colour pigments and basic patterns from various cultures are depicted on paper in the form of picture sequences. This world trip into the structures and patterns of the peoples is tied in with the application of MATERIALS such as MINERAL-SOIL-PLANT COLOURS and GLUE MIXTURES. Naturally, GEOGRAPHICAL and CLIMATIC conditions are taken into account as well,” says Christine Ljubanovic.
The exhibition provides an insight into the artist’s modus operandi and indirectly transforms the exhibition room into a research room, in order to give her scrupulous collecting an artistic space. All through the years, she has returned regularly to her Tyrolean homeland and has been an important member of the local art scene. To this day, she cultivates a close dialogue with the Tyrolean artists of her generation and had very close ties with the recently deceased gallery owner Monika Lami (1940–2018) and her legendary Galerie Elefant in Zams. Not least for this reason we are very pleased to rediscover, here in Innsbruck, the work of this active Tyrolean expat. And we are very happy indeed to dedicate this special Tyrolean artist an exhibition on the occasion of her eightieth birthday.
For years, Ljubanovic worked as an illustrator for children’s books in order to make a living and finance her art. Between 1961 and 1962, after her studies at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (together with her childhood friend Walter Pichler), she collaborated, at Arthur Zelger’s Innsbruck office, on the graphic design for the 1964 Olympics, or also published there the children’s magazine Teddy in 1963, before going to Paris later the same year. Historically speaking, the office was located in the house in front of the Kunstraum Innsbruck. It is a great satisfaction, therefore, to have the work of Christine Ljubanovic return, after fifty-eight years, to one of its many points of origin.
Born in Zams, Tyrol, in 1939; 1953–1956 Bundesgewerbeschule Innsbruck; 1956–1960 University of Applied Arts Vienna with Paul Kurt Schwarz; 1961 advertising art at Atelier Zelger in Innsbruck; 1961–1962 edited and designed a children’s magazine for Verlag Scheiber; 1963 published the children’s magazine Teddy together with R. Thun; 1963–1971 founded an advertising agency in Paris and collaborated in the Ludic collective (constructing children’s playgrounds); publication of numerous children’s books for Flammarion; 1971–1972 stay in New York; press drawings and work on the book Mandy – américaine du New Jersey; 1972–1976 stay in London; in the summer months, since 1976, at the Accademia Raffaello in Urbino, Italy; lives and works in Paris.