Unlike other countries behind the Iron Curtain, Yugoslavia did not enforce Socialist Realism—characterized by romanticized depictions of communist life—as the official state style, allowing artists to continue working within a tradition of abstraction. It was in this context that Croatian artist Julije Knifer created the "meander,"a serpentine black line on a white field or a white line on a black field, which he painted exclusively from 1960 until his death in 2004. For Knifer, this concentration on a single motif at once extended the formal radicalism of pre-war abstraction and subverted the utopian political goals that often accompanied it. Knifer's meander does not construct a better society: it is a useless gesture, emptied of meaning.
Gallery label from Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, September 5, 2015–January 3, 2016.