Foxy Mister, 2002
14 colour photographs
66 x 50,5 cm each
photo: Tomislav Čuveljak
Collection Sarah Gotovac / Courtesy Tomislav Gotovac Institute, Zagreb
In his long artistic career, Tomislav Gotovac almost always used his own body as direct means of expression. Radical and direct, he denuded his body in a closed space in front the movie or still camera, but even more often in public space, gallery or street, pulling off a great run of actions and performances. There is no doubt that in his work the author pushed back the borders of social tolerance, becoming a byword for the radical artist, who deliberately included provocation in his work.
In Foxy Mister he played with social taboos in several ways. In a series of 14 colour photographs, we see the artist in the full frontal poses that imitate those of a female model taken from the porn mag Foxy Lady. The provocative body of a young woman is replaced with the depiction of a man with grey hair and a robust body. The photos were taken just before his 65th birthday and at once published in an illustrated magazine. Constantly breaking down the barriers and insisting that there is no division into public and private, Gotovac drew attention to the taboo sequence: man – nude man – old nude man – in which age has to be hidden, just like the naked body.
Foxy Mister was recently shown at the exhibition Nude Men from 1800 to the Present Day in the Leopold Museum in Vienna, the first museum exhibition that presented in detail the nude male body in art. The management of the museum allowed naturists to look around the show naked. This was a scene between personal intimacy and media spectacle that seemed to have stemmed directly out of Tom Gotovac’s work.
Multimedia artist Tomislav Gotovac (Sombor, 1937 – Zagreb 2010) was into film, photography, made collages and sculptures, changed his own appearance and carried out performances in public space. In the formation of his artistic and life stances a key place was occupied by film: obsessive watching moving images opened new views for him and created critical thinking. Repeated viewings of the same movie turned his attention from the basis of the action to a detailed consideration of the structure of the film medium. He did his first works in photography, but unlike the traditional approach, where the photograph holds his camera in his hands and photographs the world around him, Gotovac directed his lens on himself, his face and body. He produced series of photographs in which he recorded similar gestures (Flicking Through Elle, Breathing the Air, 1963), dedications to film idols (Heads, 1960), and physical changes in his own body (Heads, 1970).
He put on his first happening with a group of chums (Our Happ, 1967). The many actions and performances carried out in public became his trademark (Streaking, 1971, Action 100, 1979, Zagreb, I love you, 1981, and so on).
In Gotovac’s film oeuvre, experimental and documentary works stand out (The morning of a fawn, 1963; Line, Blue Rider, Circle 1964), as well as early specimens of films with a precisely conceived structure, an innovative approach to the image and an uncommon procedure for putting in sound. He spent almost a decade (1967-1976) in Belgrade, at the Theatre, Film, Radio and Television Academy. An important event that defined his work in several ways was the film Plastic Jesus by director Lazar Stojanović (1971), where he was leading man and assistant director. In later works he adopted the avant-garde procedure of the use of readymade film material that he reshaped into work of his own. He received a number of commendations for his films at film festivals and thus made sure of his claim to be among key authors of the experimental film.
From the mid-seventies, Gotovac figured on the fine arts scene and took part in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad. Along with BadCo he was the Croatian representative at the Venice Biennale in 2011.