Established in 1986, the International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC) is housed in Tivoli Mansion. It runs the Biennial of Graphic Arts, maintains an international collection of prints and artists’ books, and organises personal and thematic contemporary art exhibitions, often reflecting the political or social atmospheres of the chosen periods.
Founded in 1955, the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts is the world’s oldest existing biennial exhibition of contemporary graphic arts. MGLC is among the founding members of the International Biennial Association (IBA), established in 2014. As of 2017, MGLC also runs the Švicarija Art Centre, a nearby residency and exhibition venue, also located in Tivoli Park.
The idea of establishing MGLC dates back to the mid-1970s as a direct consequence of the development of the Ljubljana International Biennial of Graphic Arts and the enormous growth of contemporary printmaking production in Slovenia during that period, especially represented by the “Ljubljana Graphic Art School”.
This idea was advanced by the secretary of the Ljubljana International Biennial of Graphic Arts Zoran Kržišnik, the then-director of the Museum of Modern Art. In 1981, the MGLC Foundation commenced its first activities and began to adapt the Tivoli Mansion. In 1987, the MGLC moved from the Museum of Modern Art to the renovated mansion positioned majestically at the end of the Plečnik “promenade” in Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park.
Besides the organisation of the Biennial of Graphic Arts and the organisation of other contemporary art exhibitions, MGLC also maintains a collection of Slovenian and international prints, artists’ books, art projects in magazines and on billboards, and other printed art matter. MGLC also edits limited print editions in the techniques of lithography, silkscreen and intaglio and offers workshops about printing techniques.
Collection of art prints and artists’ books
The MGLC collection contains more than 4,500 items created since 1945. Since 2000, the collection has grown by approximately 4,000 items of artist-created printed matter by international and Slovenian artists. These works include artist’s books, posters, newspapers, magazines, postcards, printed invitations, greeting cards, fanzines and artists’ archives.
The collection is also composed of art prints of some representatives of the “École de Paris” such as Zadkine and Picasso (in 2011 shown in the Lek Gallery), works of international established artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Victor Vasarely, Emilio Vedova, Maria Bonomi and representatives of the Ljubljana Graphics School. The collection also includes artists’ books of international and Slovenian artists such as OHO Group, West East Publications edited by Franci Zagoričnik, Damien Hirst and further great names of art history such as Boltansky, Lewitt, Opalka, Buren, Roth, Reiner and Yves Klein.
Each year, MGLC acquires some works. Beside the works of 4 Slovenian artists (Vesna Črnivec, Janez Knez, Tanja Lažetić and Petra Varl), in 2008 MGLC also acquired 4 works of foreign artists including White Cube Book of James Lee Byars from 1986 and 54 publications of Bernard Villers entitled Publishing House Remorqueur and Nouveau Remorqueur Archives.
In 2010, the Slovenian painter and printmaker Tinca Stegovec donated to MGLC her entire print oeuvre, including her matrices and four drawings, as well as a large portion of her library.
MGLC organises regular contemporary art exhibitions, including surveys of national artistic creativity and exhibitions by individual artists, often in collaboration with international institutions such as the British Council Slovenia, French Cultural Institute Charles Nodier, Ljubljana or private collections such as Rene Block Edition from Berlin.
In non-biennial years, MGLC prepares 4 to 8 exhibitions. The exhibitions present Slovenian and international visual artists as well as phenomena that have shaped the cultural life in Slovenia. Such an exhibition was FV, Alternative Scene of the Eighties (2008), which shed light on the important social and artistic events in the 1980s, the appearance of the first gay and lesbian clubs, independent publishing houses, multimedia groups and other forms of counterculture creativity. On this occasion, Neven Korda, a video artist and one of the protagonists, donated his entire archive to the MGLC collection. In 2009, MGLC featured May ’68 in Paris and the Student Movement in Ljubljana, 1968–1972. Posters, Film, and Photographs – an exhibition presenting around 80 posters, loaned from the Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image imprimée in La Louvière (Belgium).
MGLC also stages solo shows and in past years has featured Štefan Galič, Regina Pessoa, Gabrijel Stupica, Zora Stančič and Petra Varl, Herman Gvardjančič, Laibach (Gesamtkunst Laibach, Fundamentals 1980–1990, 2010), Mina Fina, Peter Brötzmann, Alenka Pirman and others.
MCLC produces in-depth theoretical publications, full-colour illustrated exhibition catalogues, and other books. Among their publications include the extensive retrospective study Mnemosyne: The Time of the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts.
Besides workshops for professional artists, the MGLC organises workshops of various graphic techniques (silkscreen, lithography, woodcut, linocut, drypoint and etching) and other special events for children.
Occasionally, the MGLC organises also symposia, lectures and public discussions with invited artists, publishers, curators and experts from abroad and guided visits to accompany exhibitions.