Mladen Stilinović

Born 1947, Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) | Lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia

Mladen Stilinović, installation view of Bag-People, 2001, 80 pieces; black-and-white photographs on table, 11 13⁄16 x 9 7⁄16 in. (30 x 24 cm) each, Collection of the artist; with Exploitation of the Dead in the background, 1984–90, 126 pieces; various materials, dimensions variable; Collection of the artist. Image courtesy of the artist, Zagreb; Photo: Greenhouse Media


On view in Gallery One in the Scaife Galleries is a succinct retrospective of the work of Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović. Since the 1970s, Stilinović has practiced a quixotic interrogation of power, or, as he calls it, “the language of politics.” His omnivorous approach to art making—with major works in nearly all media, including drawing, painting, photography, performance, and text—demonstrates a fluent contribution to cultural and political dialogues spanning Yugoslavian socialism, the capitalist diaspora, and contemporary globalism (and a good amount of wry, very human humor).

In 1975, along with his brother and four other Zagreb-based artists, Stilinović founded the Group of Six Artists, who would become known for their “exhibition-actions”—spontaneous happenings such as displaying in-process artworks in unexpected public places—which subverted the constrictive socialist cultural-politic by insisting on transparency and public discourse.

These early destabilizing strategies have remained a major component of Stilinović’s practice as he has called into question ideological power created by and maintained through symbolism, bureaucracy, and language. Among a forest of political signs, the figure of the artist and the relationship between labor, creativity, and cultural value further permeate his work. By focusing on specific yet shared features of life, such as language, food, labor, time, and currency, Stilinović’s accessible tactics of critique make him a unique voice. 

Stilinović has exhibited extensively in Croatia and abroad, including in the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). His work is held in the collections of the Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and he has been the subject of several publications and catalogues.

Borrow a work

A work by Mladen Stilinović is available for checkout in the Art Lending Collection at Braddock Carnegie Library.