An artwork is a creation of an artist in which she/he expresses her/his idea. There are a lot of different forms of visual artworks: alongside paintings, statues and graphic works contemporary artists create installations, photographs, performances, videos, net art and more.

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In the past, only paintings, drawings, statues and graphic works that were made with the greatest of skill and craftsmanship and therefore expressed the highest quality, sensibility and sensitivity in representing the chosen subjects or motifs, were considered artworks.

That all changed with the 20th century, with the French artist Marcel Duchamp, who worked regardless of what all the important art critics said, who decided for themselves what was art and what was not. He took an object from the store – a urinal, and called it Fontana. He signed it with the name R. Mutt, and write on it the year 1917. He claimed that this was his artwork. The idea was that only an artist, like him, could decides what is art and what is not; and that it how it’s made or made of isn’t so important. Since then, it is the idea in the artwork that is the most important, and what distinguishes it from an ordinary object.


Ivan Picelj

When the daughter of the artist Ivan Picelj, asked him to draw her a mouse, she expected her father to draw a perfectly recognizable mouse – something like a portrait of a mouse – an image she would immediately recognize as a representation of the animal, as a mouse.  But her father, even if he was a painter, did not draw the mouse as we know it. His artistic universe was instead inhabited by numerous other geometric shapes, lines and colours that he would organize differently in his paintings, without the need to create anything that resembles nature or represents something from the natural environment.

That is how abstract painters paint. Without imitating or representing nature, they invent the rules of their games of shapes, lines and colours and play the game in an infinite number of rounds. Some of them you can see here. And these features apply not only to painting, but also to drawing, sculpture and design. And, as a matter of fact, the artist Ivan Picelj expressed himself in all of them. He created numerous posters for the exhibitions that were held at the museum – look at their shapes – and designed numerous exhibition catalogues – the books of the exhibitions that remain after the exhibitions have ended.

“Discovering Art” is an educational portal where you can discover interesting facts about art and museums of art.

The online portal Discovering Art is the collaborative effort of four institutions:

Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb, Fundació Antoni Tàpies from Barcelona, Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina and Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Koroška from Slovenj Gradec.

The portal is part of the European project Performing the Museum.