Paris – Pont Alexandre III, 1939
oil on canvas
Slavko Kopač painted his Paris – Pont Alexandre III painting in 1939, i.e. immediately after he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. After he moved to Paris, Kopač’s artistic sensibilities got liberated from traditional Academicism and he set out on a journey marked by imagination and a lucid creation of his avant-garde artistic expression. He replaced his “learned” brushstrokes with resonant stains of colour which he fit onto a white, neutral background, the result of which are mystical and poetic atmospheres in his compositions. There are only traces here of his later surrealist repertoire, i.e. in certain elements and in the manner developing into Kopač’s very own style.
Slavko Kopač was born in Vinkovci in 1913. He graduated in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1937 under Prof. Vladimir Becić. He moved to Paris in 1939 as a French government scholarship holder. At the outbreak of World War II, Kopač returned to Zagreb and then moved to Mostar as a drawing teacher at a local grammar school. Despite the war and to continue studying, in 1943 he moved to Florence where he remained until 1948, when he moved to Paris again. In the same year, he met Jean Dubuffet, and this is where and when a friendship and professional collaboration between the two artists began, spanning nearly 30 years. Together with Dubuffet, Kopač explored, produced and collected Art Brut works of art. In 1950 he was appointed as secretary and later as curator of the Collection of Art Brut. During his career, he met and worked with André Breton, B. Perret, M. Tapies and many other leading figures of the cultural scene in Paris. He also did sculpture, illustration (for a poem by André Breton) and ceramics. He exhibited in galleries in Paris, Milan, Rijeka, Venice, Lyon, Chicago and Louisville.
Text: Zlatko Tot, curator trainee of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb