In search of a man

Zenit and Zenitism
May 19th - June 8th > Opening on Thursday, May 19th, at 20:30h

ZENIT – the main forum of avant-garde Zenitism movement and its program ideas was an international magazine of leftist orientation that had a great number of collaborators from Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, almost every part of Europe, North and South America and even Japan. The magazine had an apparent commitment to the new art which they believed will help make a new man of the twentieth century. Zenitistic activism reflects the antiwar atmosphere after the horrors of World War I, and participates in the aspiration to create an informal international brotherhood of artists gathered around the idea of radical “meriting of all merits”. In different phases of magazine and movement’s existence, there was an active exchange and reception of ideas and experiences with European artistic movements, from Expressionism, Post-Cubism, Futurism, and Dadaism to Russian avant-garde and social tendencies. In its leftist orientation Zenit also undoubtedly supported the October Revolution and Marxist ideas. From the first issue, Zenit has expressed its sharp critical orientation towards conservative (petty) bourgeoisie state of mind and capitalist society, the authority of political government and the church, social injustice and osseous institutions through argumentative and program articles, manifests, prose, and poetry. Compelling visual effects, such as the design of the magazine and other Zenitistic issues, reproductions, typographic and graphics solution
have reflected that fiery activism. Parallel with the sharp critique of European capitalism and its political and cultural practices that was concisely contained in Micić’s program slogan Anti Europe, Zenitism offered its own project called Balkanizing of Europe that was supposed to be conducted by the barbaric genius (civilised) “the bearer of unsentimental and raw vitality – pure faith – non-artificial soul – and open and kind heart”.

Although they were marginalized and ignored in their time and areas of origin, Zenit and Zenitism hold an important place on the map of European historical avant-gardes of the twenties.

Writer and critic Ljubomir Micić (Sošice, Jastrebarsko 1895 – Kačarevo near Pančevo 1971) founded and issued the first number of Zenit magazine on February 1921 in Zagreb. From May 1923 the editorial staff was in Belgrade and it remained there until the magazine was forbidden in December of 1926 because of a text “Zenitism through the lens of Marxism” by an unknown author Dr. M. Rasinov (most likely Micic himself). There were 43 issues in total.

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