oil on canvas
142 x 89 cm
unit with frame: 158 x 104 cm
Vladimir Becić is a painter who, along with M. Kraljević and J. Račić, belongs to the first generation of artists who are responsible for placing the prefix modern in front of the early 20th century Croatian painting. Born in Slavonski Brod in 1886, Becić started his art education at the private school of M. C. Crnčić and B. Č. Sesija in Zagreb. In 1905, he went to Munich where he met the aforementioned colleagues, and their socializing will later result in the formation of the so-called Munich Circle (according to some sources, O. Herman also belonged to this circle) that will become the cornerstone of the modern movement in Croatian painting. In 1909, Becić moved to Paris and enrolled at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière where he continued his art education. From 1916 to 1918, he worked for the Paris magazine L’Illustration as a war painter and correspondent from the battlefields of World War I. He returned to Zagreb in 1924 and started working as a professor at the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts. Thematically speaking, portraits are not an unknown aspect in the painter’s oeuvre, but they represent a continuity that Becić developed in parallel with other themes (landscapes, nudes). In this case, however, the painting Fisherman represents a group of figural motifs that Becić uses to introduce a lighter colour palette and achieve more pronounced colour contrasts. In the formation of figural motifs, the artist uses wide layers of paint, thus achieving greater voluminosity of elements. The background of the scene becomes “neutral” i.e., “hazy” and takes on the role of a backdrop for the motif in the foreground of the scene. The subject matter, in this case a fisherman, is shown in the middle of the process of knitting his net. Although shown in the middle of work, Becić portrays his protagonist as somewhat absent-minded. The fisherman is present in the painting only physically, while he is mentally removed and immersed in his own contemplation. Vladimir Becić remained a professor at the Academy in Zagreb until 1947. He died in 1954 in Zagreb. As early as 1905, he has shown his work at the exhibition of the Croatian Art Society, and in the course of his lifetime has had exhibitions in Paris, Zagreb, Osijek and the 21st Venice Biennale.
Text: Zlatko Tot, trainee curator at the National Museum of Modern Art ©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: From the photo-archive of the National Museum of Modern Art ©National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb