Běla Kolářová. Radiogram of Circle. 1962-63

Běla Kolářová Radiogram of Circle 1962-63

  • Not on view

Kolárová’s experimentation with cameraless photography began in 1961, when she sensed a growing incompatibility between her representational practice of the previous decade and her avant–garde instincts. Aligned with the progressive art movement Križovatka (Crossroads) in Prague, which aimed for new modes of expression antithetical to Soviet-sanctioned Socialist Realism, Kolárová began creating “artificial negatives,” pressing small domestic and natural objects into a sheet of soft wax and then exposing the impressions to photographic paper under shifting light. Captivated by the ability of light to record the materiality of these objects, Kolárová made increasingly abstract work, which culminated in these light drawings. The concentric circles were likely obtained by placing objects on photosensitive paper on a spinning gramophone, and then exposing these to light.

Gallery label from XL: 19 New Acquisitions in Photography, May 10, 2013–January 6, 2014.
Additional text

Kolárová was known—with her partner, the poet and artist Jirí Kolàr—as an influential figure in Prague intellectual circles of the early 1960s. Kolárová's experimentation with cameraless photography began in 1961, when she aligned with the progressive art movement Križovatka (Crossroads), which aimed for new conceptual modes of expression antithetical to Soviet-sanctioned Socialist Realism. Kolárová began creating what could be called "artificial negatives," pressing small domestic and natural objects into a sheet of soft wax and then exposing the impressions to photographic paper under shifting light. Kolárová's experimental approach to photography and assemblage-based practices was groundbreaking for its time. The pictures titled Roetgenogram kruhu (Radiogram of Circle) were likely made by placing objects on photosensitive paper on a spinning gramophone and then exposing them to light.

Gallery label from Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, September 5, 2015–January 3, 2016.

Kolárová began experimenting with cameraless photography in 1961, creating "artificial negatives" by pressing small domestic and natural objects into sheets of soft wax and then exposing the impressions to photographic paper under shifting light. Captivated by the ability of light to record the materiality of these objects, Kolárová made increasingly abstract work, which culminated in these concentric light images.

Gallery label from Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction, April 19 - August 13, 2017.
Medium
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions
9 9/16 × 7" (24.3 × 17.8 cm)
Credit
Gift of Martin Helcl, Prague
Object number
303.2013
Copyright
© 2021 Estate of Bela Kolárová
Department
Photography

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research-and-learning/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].