RUDOLF VALDEC (Krapina, March 8, 1872 – Zagreb, February 1, 1929), Croatian sculptor
Valdec studied at the Crafts and Trades School in Zagreb, and worked with A. Kuhne in Vienna and S. Eberle in Munich. He was one of the first professors in the College for Art and the Fine Crafts (later the Academy of Fine Arts) in Zagreb. At the turn of the century, when the circle of Zagreb fine artists was being formed, Rudolf Valdec was, in company with Robert Frangeš-Mihanović, the key representative of sculpture. His decorative three-dimensional works are to be found on many of the facades of the distinctive buildings of the city of Zagreb. Influenced by the Viennese Secession, or Art Nouveau, in the earlier phase he did allegorical and thematic sculptures (Love, Sister of Death; Frustrated Genius).
EXHIBITION MARKING THE 85TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF VALDEC
This year, 2014, marks the 85th year since the death of Rudolf Valdec. The Modern Gallery looks after seventy of the sculptor’s works in sculpting and medal-making created between 1901 and 1928 and done in several versions and materials. For the exhibition prompted by the anniversary, apart from masterpieces like the portrait Vladimir Lunaček – Cave criticum of 1905 and the portrait Josip. J. Strossmayer of 1902, twenty five other sculptural and medal-making pieces have been selected. He did his main works in a large number of portraits, all modelled by the hand of an experienced master who aimed at a realistic characterisation (Strossmayer, F. Rački, V. Jagić, I. Kršnjavi and others). Inspired by the personality of his patron, Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Valdec modelled his striking figure in several versions and on several occasions.
The exhibition will show the whole of the artist’s medal-making work. Works of small-scale sculpting are rendered in bas-relief. The Art Nouveau plaque Casino of 1911, with the rhythmical modelling of curved decorative and poetic lines is reckoned to be among the masterpieces of Croatian medal-making.
In his creative work, Rudolf Valdec was consistently true to the modern visual idiom, masterfully adopting the thematic and visual achievements and opportunities of Secession. With impeccable plastic rendering, he enhanced the appearance of many Zagreb institutions and places. The beauty of his works also ennobled outdoor places in the city, forming the most striking and typical testimonies to the work in art and the setting of the time (in Zrinjevac and at Mirogoj).
Rudolf Valdec exhibited solo but seldom, and this is the first individual exhibition of the sculptor’s work to be put on by the Modern Gallery in Zagreb.
Exhibition devised and catalogue written by Tatijana Gareljić