Sculptor and architect Frane Cota graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in 1924 and in architecture in Zagreb in 1929. He spent some time in Prague, Paris and Italy. Between 1934 and 1950 he taught architectural drawing at the Institute of Technology in Zagreb and in 1941 he started teaching drawing at the Teachers College in Zagreb.
Cota was an outstanding figure in Croatian modern art. Although he considered himself primarily a sculptor, he was just as successful as an architect whose understanding of space was functionalist and whose feeling for volume was sculptural. As a sculptor, he was initially influenced by Vienna’s Art Nouveau and sculptor Ivan Meštrović, but soon transformed into a modernist favouring Realism. From amongst his sculptural works, his portraits, nudes, figures and reliefs stand out. He also modelled medals and plaques, such as the King Tomislav plaque from 1925.
Frane Cota’s seated female nude Melancholy from 1935 was modelled in the spirit of Mediterranean Neoclassicism, and is a synthesis of late Art Nouveau and New Realism which – after having adapted it to his very own poetics – Cota accepted as did the sculptors who exhibited at The Spring Salon in Zagreb.
Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant 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