Željko Hegedušić
(1906 – 2004)
Dance, Paris, 1930
ink on paper, 265 x 178 mm

Hegedušić was born in 1906 in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the artistic environment of Zagreb and later Paris will play a crucial role in his artistic development. In 1931, Hegedušić moved to Paris to continue his specialised education. Before devoting himself fully to working under the strong influence of Surrealism, in the period from 1930 to 1941 Hegedušić created several anthological works, which can be connected to New Objectivity, an artistic movement that used grotesque to express criticism of European society between the two world wars.

The drawing “Dance, Paris” would have had all the features of an urban, hedonistic life typical of art at the turn of the century, had Hegedušić not been influenced by the artistic avant-garde and used the montage technique, on the one hand, and expanded the scene with new content, on the other. The representation of two central figures in the drawing – a dancer (a prostitute?) and an upper-class citizen – has all the hallmarks of Secession: a precise and continuous line that emphasises elegance so much that even the corpulent male figure appears light and graceful. Hegedušić, however, disrupts this Secession thread by adding three spatially and temporally completely unrelated motifs to the scene: a group of musicians in the upper part of the drawing, a group of protesters and a line of cars in the lower half of the drawing. Although all the depicted motifs are part of city life, Hegedušić avoids drawing an allegory of urban life by rendering the said motifs in different sizes, and by their arrangement on the surface. Because what Hegedušić conveys is not a story, but the critique of society. In line with the Zemlja Association of Artists, that he will exhibit with upon his return from Paris, and in line with New Objectivity, Hegedušić unequivocally points to the world of vast social differences, the easy life of some (high bourgeoisie) and the hard life of others (workers, prostitutes) in the cacophony of a metropolis such as Paris.

Klaudio Štefančić, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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