Branko Ružić

1919-1997

The Ark

1966

wood

MG-2530

Branko Ružić graduated in sculpture in 1944 (mentored by Frano Kršinić) and in painting in 1948 (mentored by Marino Tartaglia) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where he taught from 1961 to 1985.

The sculptural works that Ružić created are both archetypal and contemporary, which earned him a prominent position in contemporary Croatian sculpture. He developed his own sculptural language of concise organic forms, of powerful internal dynamics and of monumentality. Elementary, simple, ancient yet modern, and mostly made of wood, Ružić’s oeuvre consists of refined and simplified forms whose significance is existentialist. As a painter, Ružić also sought to portray the world around us the way he experienced it, the way his inner eye saw it. The form of his paintings is concise, with which he presents a maximum of experience of a referential theme by using a minimum of visual language, often exploring the motifs he already established in his sculptures.

Ružić’s The Ark (Noah’s Ark) represents his vision of fellowship amongst people. By carving in the body of wood on both sides, face to face, he modelled stretched and geometrically cut figures in a round log creating a dynamic sculptural composition. The hollow inner space of the log is a dark immaterial shadow – the spiritual state of the figures facing each other, both closing and opening the space of the sculpture.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Izidor Kršnjavi, Bedouins, 1874

oil on canvas, 9.5×34.2 cm

MG-2112

Art historian, politician, painter and writer Izidor (Iso) Kršnjavi (1845-1927) was a key figure in Croatian culture in the second half of the 19th century. He was first taught painting by Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf in Osijek. He studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts first in Vienna and later in Munich, where he was mentored by Professors Wilhelm von Lindenschmit the Younger and Wilhelm von Diez, artists who used informal teaching methods to steer their students towards observational studies and plein-air painting. Between 1872 and 1877 he stayed in Italy on several occasions – he had a studio in Rome and in southern Italy he painted together with Karl Hubert Frosch, Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki and Ferdinand (Ferdo) von Quiquerez-Beaujeu. Having become dissatisfied with his work, he stopped painting in 1877. He favoured small-scale oils on canvas, drawings and copper etchings in the vein of the Realism of Munich’s Academy of Fine Arts and produced several sketches of the old masters reduced to basic strokes and colours for the purpose of teaching. Kršnjavi founded the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of the University in Zagreb with a lecture he gave in 1877 under the title The Significance of the History and Archaeology of Art, and in 1879 he prompted to action the Art Society founded in 1868. From 1891 to 1895 he was the Minister of Education and Religion in Károly Khuen-Héderváry’s administration. In 1905, in his capacity as president of the Art Society he founded the National Museum of Modern Art. Kršnjavi’s project of reconstructing and equipping the seat of the Department of Worship and Teaching is programmatically important. Based on Hermann Bollé’s project, and in line with the culture of Classicism, Humanism and Christianity, the reconstruction was executed in the spirit of Idealism and Realism by artists who later became representatives of Croatia’s Modernism.

Kršnjavi’s Bedouins study was created during his stay in southern Italy and is a typical small-scale, strikingly horizontally elongated composition painted in the manner of Munich’s Realism freed from the strict rules of Academicism. He painted the sketchy depiction of a genre scene using a distinctly light and airy palette of colours under the influence of the light and atmosphere of the Mediterranean.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Slavko Kopač (1913-1995)

A Cow, 1949

oil on canvas, 730×920 mm

MG 3864

 

Slavko Kopač (1913-1995) was a leading modernist in Croatia with an international career, who intermixed Art Brut, Surrealism and Art Informel. In his book Art of Another Kind from 1952, Michel Tapié ranks Kopač amongst the greatest painters and pioneers of Art Brut. After having graduated in 1937 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (mentored by Vladimir Becić), he first painted in the spirit of Post-Impressionist Realism and then in the vein of Miroslav Kraljević’s expression and Leo Junek’s colourist facets. During his stay in Italy (1943-1948), he created vistas and watercolours akin to Surrealism. After having rejected Realism and Academicism, Kopač started creating an elementary and primary expression, which is one of the precepts of Art Brut. In 1948, he moved to Paris, where the founder of Art Brut, Jean Dubuffet, appointed him as secretary and curator of the Collection of Art Brut. He was secretary and curator of the said collection until 1975 when it moved to Lausanne. André Breton entrusted Kopač with equipping a limited edition of his 1949 poem Un regard des divinités. In 1950 he participated in the creation of Almanach surréaliste du demi-siècle, an anthology of surrealists, and in 1953 he exhibited at Breton’s gallery l’Étoile scellée. He painted and sculpted using new materials, such as sand, rubber and metal, as well as stone, wood, paper, glass and coal. Attributing to them the features of Luddism and primordial principles, he modelled people, various beings, plants and animals in the manner of Primitivism. Kopač’s A Cow (1949), painted before Dubuffet’s first painting of cow, is an original depiction and synthesis of his childlike and primitive expression presented in a two-dimensional form on a two-dimensional background. A Cow is a rudimentary, archetypal symbol reminiscent of cave art.

 

 Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

Marija Ujević-Galetović

1933

Franz Kafka

1976

porcelain

MG-3952

Marija Ujević-Galetović graduated in sculpture in 1958 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (mentored by Frano Kršinić), where she started teaching in 1987 as the first female professor of sculpture. She also studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London and spent time in Italy, the UK and France on study stays.

In her rich oeuvre, Ujević-Galetović has drawn on the tradition of Croatian figurative sculpture based on refined volumes bearing a contemporary visual code. She models the melancholic features of her frozen-motion statues successfully by reducing their form geometrically. Regardless of whether they are of a religious, sepulchral, memorial or profane character, thanks to their ingenious solutions and associations her notable public sculptures fit in perfectly with the modern urban environment that they are placed in. Mounted in different attractive locations around Zagreb, her sculptures of August Šenoa, Vlaho Paljetak, Miroslav Krleža or A Male Runner are to be singled out thanks to their subtle monumentality.

In the early 1960s, Ujević-Galetović drew close to Pop Art and New Figuration. She synthesised forms and experimented with the properties of different materials, which is observable in the porcelain bust of writer Franz Kafka. The portrait is esoteric in nature thanks to Ujević-Galetović having successfully introduced discord between its concise form on the one hand, and the realistically portrayed physical and psychological traits of the writer on the other. This is further enhanced by an effective opposition between the glossy glaze of the white figure and its blue hat.

 Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

Krsto Hegedušić

A Flood, 1932

oil on canvas, 106×123.5 cm

MG-1530

 

Krsto Hegedušić’s painting A Flood from 1932 represents a synthesis of the programme of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists, which Krsto Hegedušić was the initiator and secretary of. In a naturalistically rough manner, the soul-stirring scene depicts hard life in Podravina’s countryside. Having drawn not only on Croatia’s native folk art heritage, but also on Pieter Brueghel the Elder and George Grosz, Hegedušić painted the scene as simply as possible bringing only the most essential details. Drawn clearly, the composition is built flatly using locally inspired colours. The figures are divested of the illusion of perspective and volume. The central scene is accompanied by three independent scenes, which are arranged further away from the foreground like in a comic strip. Besides a high horizon, figures accustomed to hardship are the other feature that typifies Hegedušić’s painting in the vein of the Zemlja group of artists. They are fully typified, with their proportions symbolically exaggerated to the point of being grotesque. Hegedušić’s native landscape is identified by the severity of the natural disaster, a recognisable motif of a late winter landscape in the surroundings of the Hlebine area and the muddy river flooding the plain. Hegedušić’s A Flood expresses paradigmatically his critical agenda and subversive action, while writer Miroslav Krleža singled this painting out as an explicit example of Hegedušić’s individuality, talent and imagination.

 

Although his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb – where he was mentored by Tomislav Krizman, Vladimir Becić, Jozo Kljaković, Edo Kovačević and Ljubo Babić – and the ongoing course of Croatia’s Modernism in art had little effect on Krsto Hegedušić, his originality and determination in the 1930s birthed a new paradigm of form and motif, facilitating the emergence of Croatian Naive Art. In 1937, he started teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. Besides painting, he also did drawings, graphics, frescoes, book illustrations, and theatre stage and costume design. He died in 1975.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

FERDO ĆUS (1891-1914)

A Head of a Boy, 1913

wood

MG-1331

Ferdo Ćus graduated in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1910 (mentored by Robert Frangeš-Mihanović and Rudolf Valdec). In 1913 and 1914, he continued his studies at the woodcarving school in St. Christina in Tyrol, Austria. Recognised as a talented sculptor while still a student, in 1910 he sculpted bronze statues of boys on turtles for the fountain in Petrinja, and in 1911 he modelled independently the groups of owls mounted on the roof of the building that housed the University Library in Zagreb, today the Croatian State Archives.

Due to his early death, Ćus’s oeuvre is not extensive. Nevertheless, it reflects his strong artistic personality as realised in his wooden sculptures of saints, human figures and animalistic motifs of thematic diversity and sensibility.

Ćus’s children’s portraits, such as A Head of a Boy (1913), are modelled softly within their closed volume. Curiously, the surfaces of the boy’s hair, smooth with solid edges, are modelled in the manner of Facet Cubism.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Boris Demur
Requiem in Croatia, 1991
Acrylic on canvas
400 x 400 cm
National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
MG-6519

Boris Demur (1951-2014) was a Neo-Avant-Garde painter and Post-Conceptual artist. He was a co-founding member of the Group of Six Artists (Zagreb, 1975-1981). He graduated in painting in 1975 (Prof. Raul Goldoni) and in graphic arts in 1977 (Albert Kinert), and from 1975 to 1977 he participated in painter and sculptor Ljubo Ivančić’s master workshop. Having equated art with life, Demur developed a personal image of an existentialist artist. During the 1970s, he started painting in the vein of Expressionist Abstraction, and later expressive Art Informel by combining (non)painterly materials and by using collage, decollage, assemblage and frottage techniques.

In the mid-1970s, Demur’s painting was primary, analytical, elementary and procedural in nature, with painting being nothing but a work of art, nothing but a fact. In 1983, he reintroduced motif and bodily gesture into his painting with the archetype of a spiral, which continued to be his main theme until the end of his life and career.

Demur’s Requiem in Croatia (1991), a painting of a white spiral on a black background, is a reflection of chaos theory, according to which all unpredictable processes have their own pattern and regularity. The cross is an expression of identification of Demur’s personal religiosity with unavoidable correlations with Croatia’s Homeland War reality. Later, he introduced the double spiral of yin-yang as a symbol of the integrity of life.

During the 40+ years of his career as an artist, he exhibited at numerous solo exhibitions in both Croatia and abroad, and in 1996 he was Croatia’s representative at the São Paulo Art Biennial. In the same year, he received the Order of the Croatian Morning Star with the image of Marko Marulić, Croatia’s national order bestowed for achievements in culture. In 2004, the National Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective of his work (Retrospective I, curated by Zdenko Rus).

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Marijan Detoni

A Dilapidated Wall Fantasy, 1938

oil on canvas, 53×67.5 cm

MG-1994

A Dilapidated Wall Fantasy, Marijan Detoni’s experimental canvas, opened up endless possibilities of interpretation akin to Lyrical Abstraction as early as 1938. It is in a labyrinth of wet traces and puddles which young Detoni was referred to by Da Vinci after he read the latter’s A Treatise on Painting that he revealed the power of stains, signs, material and gesture, having thus anticipated the Avant-Garde movements of post-war European painting. In the painting, the motif of the brick – a trademark of sorts of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists to which Detoni belonged from 1932 to 1934 – as well as condensed human figures and war machines moving dramatically presaging the inevitable doom of Europe are recognisable.

Marijan Detoni graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1928 in the class of Professor Ljubo Babić. In his earlier works, Detoni highlights volumes of a Cézannesque conception, and from 1926 he often depicted scenes from provincial life into which he introduced elements of humour and the grotesque. While on a scholarship in Paris in 1934, he drew turbulent scenes from the streets of Paris and scenes from the lives of unemployed workers. Detoni expressed himself masterfully through simple drawings, locally inspired colours and basic modelling. His pre-war paintings feature Colourism, and as a forerunner of abstract tendencies in Croatian painting, in 1938 he painted two Dilapidated Wall Fantasies. While in Paris in 1939, he was inspired by the Modernism of the School of Paris, after which he returned to local themes and euphoric experiences of light and colour. He joined the partisan movement in World War II, and in the post-war years featuring the dictated aesthetics of Socialist Realism he centred on partisan war themes. Later he painted inspiring visions, fantastic and phantasmagorical compositions and totally abstract paintings.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo: Goran Vranić© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Marijan Detoni

A Dilapidated Wall Fantasy, 1938

oil on canvas, 53×67.5 cm

MG-1994

A Dilapidated Wall Fantasy, Marijan Detoni’s experimental canvas, opened up endless possibilities of interpretation akin to Lyrical Abstraction as early as 1938. It is in a labyrinth of wet traces and puddles which young Detoni was referred to by Da Vinci after he read the latter’s A Treatise on Painting that he revealed the power of stains, signs, material and gesture, having thus anticipated the Avant-Garde movements of post-war European painting. In the painting, the motif of the brick – a trademark of sorts of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists to which Detoni belonged from 1932 to 1934 – as well as condensed human figures and war machines moving dramatically presaging the inevitable doom of Europe are recognisable.

Marijan Detoni graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1928 in the class of Professor Ljubo Babić. In his earlier works, Detoni highlights volumes of a Cézannesque conception, and from 1926 he often depicted scenes from provincial life into which he introduced elements of humour and the grotesque. While on a scholarship in Paris in 1934, he drew turbulent scenes from the streets of Paris and scenes from the lives of unemployed workers. Detoni expressed himself masterfully through simple drawings, locally inspired colours and basic modelling. His pre-war paintings feature Colourism, and as a forerunner of abstract tendencies in Croatian painting, in 1938 he painted two Dilapidated Wall Fantasies. While in Paris in 1939, he was inspired by the Modernism of the School of Paris, after which he returned to local themes and euphoric experiences of light and colour. He joined the partisan movement in World War II, and in the post-war years featuring the dictated aesthetics of Socialist Realism he centred on partisan war themes. Later he painted inspiring visions, fantastic and phantasmagorical compositions and totally abstract paintings.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo: Goran Vranić© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

 

Vanja Radauš (1906-1975)

Typhus Sufferer, 1957

bronze

MG-2301

Vanja Radauš graduated in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (mentored by R. Frangeš Mihanović and R. Valdec; attended I. Meštrović’s special course in 1930). He resided in Paris (in 1928, 1930 and 1931), where he got to know the works of A. Watteau, A. Rodin and A. Bourdelle. His study of Michelangelo’s works in Italy in 1937 steered him towards expressive, dynamic and dramatic forms, which became a distinctive feature of his entire sculptural oeuvre. In 1940 he started teaching at the School of Crafts in Zagreb, and between 1945 and 1969 when he retired he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb as a full professor.

Radauš’s sensitivity and passion for social issues brought him close to the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists, of which he was a member from 1932 to 1933. He remained unwaveringly committed to Zemlja’s programme principles both as an individual and an artist throughout his career. His expressive, dynamic and masterful modelling and thematic focus on marginal members of society come to the fore in his statues, portraits and nudes. He left a trace on all types of sculpture, from medal making, terracotta, plaster, stone, wax and bronze sculpture to public monuments, such as The Fallen (The Wounded), a statue from 1938 installed in the courtyard of the National Museum of Modern Art. The irregular shape of his first medal (Ante Starčević, 1943) and the way he treated surfaces displaying pronounced expressiveness and associativity charted a new direction in Croatian medal making.

Radauš’s Typhus Sufferers, a series of bronze statues, are an expression of his distinct negation of the heroic pathos.

Translated by: Ana Janković

 

 

 

Đuro Seder (1927)

Composition, 1961

oil on canvas, 1100×1305 mm

MG 4095

Đuro Seder is a multifaceted, universal painter. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1951 (mentored by Antun Mezdjić; in 1953, he attended Marino Tartaglia’s special course). He did illustration and graphic design, and in the mid-1950s he painted dynamised paintings in the spirit of Tachisme. Being the founding member of the Gorgona art group (1959-1966) that brought together artists of a shared spiritual kinship, he advocated a Neo-Avant-Garde spirit, freedom of art and thought, which heralded the New Art Practice that came later. Seder’s oeuvre displays a unique progression from the mute, dark impossibility of painting (Seder’s essay, 1971) in the form of non-iconic Art Informel (Composition, 1961) to black and dark green expressive figuration from the late 1970s that gradually announced the possibilities of painting (Seder’s essay, 1981) and New Painting (1981), of which he is one of the architects. Seder’s Composition (1961) emanates a logical fact – the painting is a non-descriptive composition that refers to nothing outside its materiality. It is a seemingly completely monochrome, existentialist-Art-Informelist and layered dark visualisation from which occasional red dabs glow. It is devoid of any reference to both reality (other than its being stripped bare) and the processes of painting. In the 1990s, Seder developed a distinctive Neo-Expressionism of total painting, as well as a series of ironic and self-ironic self-portraits featuring a healthy sense of humour and, on occasion, joy in the vein of New Wild (since 2007) and new spiritual-sacral painting.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo: Goran Vranić© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

Vojin Bakić, 1915-1992

Torso III

1956

marble

MG-2349

Vojin Bakić is one of the greatest Croatian sculptors of the second half of the 20th century. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1939, and attended a special course taught by sculptors I. Meštrović and F. Kršinić until 1945. He spent time on study stays in Milan, Florence and Paris. He collaborated with the EXAT 51 art group and the New Tendencies movement, and is an avant-garde artist who was amongst those who introduced abstraction into Croatian art.

Between 1938 and 1945, he modelled sensuous female nudes of closed and softly shaped volumes. In the period between 1945 and 1948, he treated surfaces impressionistically with an expressive interplay between light and shadow. The volume of his female nudes and bull statues created between 1949 and 1958 is compressed, with the details merged into the totality of the sculptures creating a miraculous balance of large, pure forms of abstract beauty. In 1958, he started experimenting with open forms, interior spaces and light reflections on glossy surfaces. His monumental memorials are based on innovative and modern sculptural concepts, i.e., abstract, elementary and geometrised forms, and became universal signs of the way the anti-fascist fight in World War II is remembered in collective consciousness.

Bakić’s series of nudes and torsos unify his unearthing of organic and associative forms. The pure, refined and polished white marble of his Torso III represents a youthful female torso of an abstract form of universal beauty.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Translated by: Ana Janković

Photo: Goran Vranić© National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Nikola Mašić: A Geese Keeper on the Sava River, 1880-1881

oil on canvas, 92×227 cm

MG-171

Known as a painter of compositions of what is called Beautified Realism, Nikola Mašić (1852-1902) started his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1872, but after having become dissatisfied with its programme, he continued his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Having been taught composition by Alexander Wagner, Mašić acquired the knowledge needed to work on large-scale figurative compositions. He had an affinity for the painting style of Wilhelm Lindenschmit the Younger, a painter of historical compositions whose palette became lighter over time under the influence of the Munich School. He spent the summer of 1874 in Rome and its surroundings wanting to become familiar with the monuments of antiquity at first hand, which was to help him paint his future figurative compositions. However, the sketches and studies that he did at the time show his fascination with the atmosphere and light of the Mediterranean. During his stays in Croatia, he painted in Posavina. In 1878 he attended the Paris World’s Fair, where he saw painter Marià Fortuny’s Japonisme. Being an acclaimed painter, in 1879 he was given a studio in Munich, travelled around Europe and followed fine art events. Due to vision impairment, he returned in 1884 to Zagreb, where he first worked as a drawing teacher at the School of Crafts, and where in 1894 he was appointed as director of the Strossmayer Gallery.

 

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, musum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Vladimir Varlaj

An Orchard in the Countryside, 1924

oil on canvas, 57.5×73.4 cm

MG-1050

 

In An Orchard in the Countryside from 1924 Vladimir Varlaj expands the Cézannesque and Expressionist methods that distinguish the work of the Prague Four group of painters (Uzelac, Trepše, Gecan and Varlaj), marked by a ‘return to order’ and a consistent reduction of details to basic structures defined by a simple drawing and a sequence of planes. In the spirit of the poetics of Magical Realism, Varlaj expresses his personal vision of the world by subordinating real landscapes or vedutas to the rule of absolute balance. He replaces descriptive colours with symbolic ones and natural with inner lighting.

Vladimir Varlaj started his education as an artist in Zagreb with Professor Tomislav Krizman, and finished the High School of Arts and Crafts mentored by Emanuel Crnčić. In 1917 he returned from the Eastern Front disabled, and in the following year he went to visit his friend and painter Milivoj Uzelac in Prague. Not a single painting of Varlaj’s exists from the period preceding his first appearance at the 1919 Spring Salon in Zagreb. Besides the Spring Salons, from 1921 to 1927 he also regularly participated in exhibitions of the Group of Independent Artists initiated by painter Ljubo Babić. Varlaj’s anthological series of landscapes and vedutas of an accentuated plasticity and exceptional suggestiveness was interrupted by a serious illness as early as 1934. The still lifes he painted later seem to be his way of bidding both painting and life farewell. He died in 1962 without having had a single solo exhibition held.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Juraj Plančić
Fishermen (Fishermen from Brittany; Fishing), 1929
oil on canvas, 60×73 cm
MG-1708

Fishermen, Juraj Plančić’s painting from 1929, represents his imaginary world of vivacity, as well as his stylistically singular and consistent oeuvre. He painted his pastoral, processional and fishing scenes by modelling their surface and by translucently applying paint of characteristic hues. His work displays a special graphism, which he achieved via light, melodic drawing and by scratching lines into paint. As far as his colouristic intimism is concerned, Plančić’s oeuvre contributes anthologically to the development of Croatian Modernism.

Juraj Plančić was born in Stari Grad on the Island of Hvar. After having finished the High School of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb and after having been encouraged by painters Vladimir Becić and Jozo Kljaković, Plančić went to Paris with his colleague Krsto Hegedušić in 1926 as a French government scholarship holder. Despite having to work hard to eke out a living, Plančić frequented the museums of Paris and painted inspired especially by Manet and Derain. The first time that he exhibited his work was at the Autumn Salon in 1927. Although he moved to Rosny-sous-Bois with his family due to destitution, it was in this small town that Plančić painted his idyllic figurative compositions of a golden glow which brought him his first success at the Autumn Salon in 1928. His solo exhibition at the Galerie de Seine in 1929 and group exhibitions at the Salon of Independent Artists held at the Grand Palais in 1929 and 1930 also won critical acclaim and sold his works. Within the period of as little as some twenty months prior to his death from tuberculosis in the summer of 1930, Plančić painted seventy fascinating Arcadian landscapes. By sublimating all French styles of painting from Rococo, Watteau and Fragonard to Impressionism, Fauvism, but also his contemporaries such as Maurice Utrillo, Plančić created a novel and an entirely personal aesthetics of European breadth.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator ©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

Branislav Dešković

1883-1939

A Dog Tracking

1912

bronze

MG-2242

 

Branislav Dešković attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice (1903-1905), where he was mentored by the Italian sculptor Antonio Dal Zòtto. He stayed briefly in Vienna, and in 1907 he moved to Paris, where he regularly exhibited at the Salons (1908-1921).

Dešković’s earliest works were influenced by Academicism and the Italian Verists. During his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, he sculpted a series of realist portrait reliefs, such as A Portrait of a Bearded Man (1904).

Whenever he travelled to Croatia, he modelled sculptures under the influence of the patriotic movement, and in the spirit of Art Nouveau and stylised monumentalism. After having led a bohemian lifestyle and once his health started deteriorating, in 1921 he settled down in Split.

He is best known for his dynamic sculptures of hunting dogs under the influence of Rodin’s aesthetics, modelled as freestanding sculptures and in typical poses. Given his very own version of Impressionism, he is considered to be the most prominent animalist in Croatian modern sculpture.

A Dog Tracking is a perfect impression of a hunting dog frozen in action while focusing on its primary task.

 

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

Braco Dimitrijević

Leopard, 1979-2004

oil on canvas, 104×214 cm

 

Active from the late 1960s to the present, Braco Dimitrijević (1948) is one of the pioneers of the international Conceptual Art movement. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1971. In the same year, his wife Nena and he organised At The Moment, the first ever exhibition of Conceptual Art in Yugoslavia in a passageway on Frankopanska Street in Zagreb.

From his rich conceptual practice, his Casual Passers-By are the most famous. These are series of photographs, which he took over a long period of time, and which marked the beginning of the art form of critical interventions in public space. He premiered his Casual Passers-By in Zagreb in 1971, and then exhibited them in Paris, Venice, New York and other cities around the world. After 1976, he started developing a world-famous series of installations under the name Tryptichos Post Historicus. By using the innovative method of appropriation, his Tryptichos Post Historicus series interrelate three categories of objects: a famous work of art, an everyday item and fruits of nature.

The Leopard painting is an example of the way in which Dimitrijević’s model of post-historical triptych and method of appropriation work in the medium of painting. The walking leopard’s fur patterns blend in with the background which is done by dripping and spraying paint onto the canvas, which is a reference to the painting method of Jackson Pollock, the founder of Action Painting. This painting series heralded a series of installations in which Dimitrijević brought animals and works of art together, the highlight of which took place in 1998 at a solo exhibition at the Paris Zoo. In 1976, he published Tractatus Post Historicus, his most famous theoretical work. One of the most famous of his statements expressing his conviction as an artist is: “Louvre is my studio, street my museum”.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran vranić©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

Emanuel Vidović
Angelus, 1906/07
oil on canvas, 945×1385 mm
MG-2748

 

After having been given lessons in painting in Split by painter and builder Emil Vecchietti, Emanuel Vidović (1870-1953) enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice in 1887, which, formally, he never finished. Between 1892 and 1895, he stayed in Milan, where he exhibited paintings on the theme of Venice’s fishing life at the Esposizioni Riunite in 1894 and at the Esposizione Permanente in 1895. His stays in Chioggia, a picturesque fishing village near Venice, were a particularly significant formative influence on him as a painter, a theme he kept on returning to throughout his life. His formative period was also affected by Venetian landscape painters, such as Guglielmo Ciardi, and by en plein air painting under the influence of the Macchiaioli, a group of Tuscan artists who painted using alla macchia (spotty) brush strokes with an emphasis on the relationship between light and shade, a style of painting which peaked in the period between 1854 and 1860. Vidović created his sunset landscapes in parallel with his en plein air paintings. After having taken a brief divisive Segantinian turn that resulted in his Small World diptych in 1904, in the period between 1906 and 1920 Vidović’s painting is characterised by landscape reduction achieved by stylisation and using different shades of a single colour with a touch of black, which highlights the symbolic quality of his paintings.
These features are discernible in Angelus, his paradigmatic painting from 1906/07 painted in shades of red. Being a Christian iconography motif, Angelus is rich in sacral, spiritual meanings, and was well-suited for Vidović’s symbolic expression. The painting’s reduced landscape as a metaphor for the state of the soul with Böcklinesque outlines of a ship on water and of a coastline (an island) in the background points to the universal imagery of European Symbolism.

Tekst: Ivana Rončević Elezović, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb © The National Museum of Modern Art Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić © The National Museum of Modern Art Zagreb

 

 

 

 

Ivan Meštrović
1883-1962
A Portrait of Ruža Meštrović
1915
bronze
MG – 802

 

Having won worldwide fame and acclaim, Ivan Meštrović is the most prominent Croatian sculptor of the first half of the 20th century.
He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1901 to 1905. This is where, during his formative years, he was influenced by the overall atmosphere of Vienna’s Art Nouveau, having himself become a typical representative of the same in sculpture. Between 1923 and 1942, he served as the rector of Zagreb’s Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic, professional and public work exerted significant influence on his coevals, the younger generation of sculptors and the birth of Modernism in Croatia.
Most of Meštrović’s early works deal with symbolic themes. A representative example is the Spring of Life, a well-shaped public sculpture from 1905 installed in front of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb.
Since the beginning of his distinguished career, Meštrović had been recognised as a remarkable talent and master artist of a distinctive skill at shaping sculptural forms. Using his exceptional talent, he executed monumental, religious and intimate motifs of universal value.
Meštrović’s entire sculptural oeuvre is imbued with portraiture and unique female characters. Executed in the spirit of Art Nouveau, the portrait of Ruža Klein Meštrović, his wife at the time, is a masterpiece of elegant gesture. Her face and high bust are stylised, while the slight diagonal turn of the body highlights movement and dynamises the form.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb © The National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić © The National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

Edo Murtić (1921-2005)
Highway, 1952
oil on canvas, 823×1455 mm
MG-2339

 

Edo Murtić’s Highway is a painting from his Experience of America series (1951-1952) created during his stay in the US and Canada. By moving away from the poetics of Social Realism, the series marks a turning point in Croatian and Yugoslavian post-war painting, heralding Murtić’s characteristic variant of American Abstract Expressionism, the most influential school of painting at the time. In the US, Murtić met Jackson Pollock, which gave him fresh creative impetus. Unlike Pollock’s gestural Action Painting automatism, Murtić’s expression is more colour centred. The composition of the Highway balances between the motif of the overpass in the foreground, and abstract rhythmic gestures and colour surfaces developing in the background suggestive of a dynamic city. Starting with the reduction of reality in landscape paintings during the 1950s in the vein of Lyrical Abstraction and Tachisme, in the early 1960s Murtić developed a recognisable abstract style of painting characterised by dynamic gesture and intense colours. This made Murtić the most influential and most widely known artist of High Modernism in socialist Yugoslavia, with a respectable career on the international arts scene. Murtić learned from the greatest artists of his time at the academies in Zagreb and Belgrade. As a staunch socialist, he joined the partisan movement during WWII. Being a prominent cultural worker, he later advocated democratic values. He had a highly intense and influential career that lasted for sixty years. After his brief figuration period in the 1980s, for the rest of his life he remained an abstractionist of Picasso’s versatility.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant Copyright National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić, Copyright National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

 

 

 

 

Vlaho Bukovac: Gundulić Contemplating Osman, 1894

oil on canvas, 185×308 cm

catalogue entry no.

MG-295

 

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) introduced Modernism into Croatia. In his childhood, his inquisitive and adventurous spirit took him to the USA. Thanks to a pan-Slavicist writer, Medo Pucić, and Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, he attended École des beaux-arts in Prague. His style of painting was influenced by Alexandre Cabanel, an eclectic painter of historical and religious compositions in the spirit of Academicism. With time, he became acquainted with Impressionism and Orientalism, and developed his artistic expression drawing from Realism and Impressionism, and occasionally from Symbolism. After having completed his studies in 1880 and thanks to the successes he achieved at the Salons in Paris, he set up a studio in Paris. Concurrently, he also painted in Dalmatia and the UK, and in 1893 he settled in Zagreb, where in 1895 he initiated the construction of the Art Pavilion. In opposition to Izidor Kršnjavi’s Croatian Art Society founded in 1879, in 1897 Bukovac founded the Society of Croatian Artists inviting artists to paint en plein air, which gave impetus to the development of Modernism in Croatia. Under his influence, painters started using a lighter palette and rejecting the brown hues that dominated galleries. As a result, a variant of Croatian realist painting of bright colours came about, dubbed the Colourful School of Zagreb. Because of his disagreement with Kršnjavi, Bukovac first went to Cavtat in 1898 and then to Prague in 1903 to teach at the acade

Gundulić Contemplating Osman, a painting which Bukovac started in Paris and finished in Zagreb in 1894, shows Ivan Gundulić, a Croatian Baroque writer, contemplating his historical and romantic epic, Osman. The diagonal Baroque composition and the characters are academically realistic, while Gundulić’s gaze is fixed on the impressionistically treated haze and the gleam of light above the water. The ease with which he painted is evident not only in the realistic depiction of the draperies and incarnations, but also in the details of the plants and rocks in the foreground. The fact that both the painting’s theme and Baroque composition are a reference/citation makes Gundulić Contemplating Osman nevertheless be in the vein of History Painting.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb ©The National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Photo: Goran Vranić © The National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Autor:

Maksimilijan-Vanka,-Pejzaz,-1932.,-MG-2747

Autor:

Braco Dimitrijevic, Leopard, 1979-2004.,-MGP-1055

Autor:

Vlaho-Bukovac,-Magdalena-(Kajanje),-1898.,-MG-3891

Autor:

Zlatko-Bourek,-Beba-iz-Bizovca,-1980.,-MG-6902

Autor:

Vladimir-Becic,-Mrtva-priroda,-1909.,-MG-893

Autor:

Marino-Tartaglia,-Cvijece-I-A,-1966.,-MG-2606