Milan Pavić
Fishermen with Nets, Kornati, 1955-59

An encounter with Franjo Fuis in 1935, a journalist, photojournalist and adventurer from Zagreb, changed Milan Pavić’s life: he acquired his first camera, became a correspondent for “Novosti” from Zagreb, founded a photo club in Daruvar and moved to Zagreb in 1942, where he continued to take photos secretly, documenting dramatic war events. After the war ended, Pavić’s photographic activity continued within state institutions entrusted with photo-documentation and promotion, so he had the opportunity to document social changes brought about by the industrialization of Yugoslavia. For example, in 1950 alone, he took 5,000 photographs of the reconstruction of Macedonia and Montenegro. However, in 1958 he left civil service and became a freelance photographer. He nevertheless continued to shoot scenes of mostly urban everyday life, of workers and new factories, the construction of which, in black-and-white photographs, reveal all the qualities of a well-composed and beautiful image. It is precisely the beauty of Pavić’s images, regardless of the type of content shown, that situates him in the world of classical modernist photography. In every photographic genre he achieved clarity and lucidity; there is order in every scene, regardless of whether he takes close-ups or wide-angle photos. The photograph “Kornati” was taken during Pavić’s trip on the Croatian coast, as part of a project in which he wanted to portray the region and its people. All photographs from that series were taken on the islands of Cres, Kornati, Krapanj, Zlarin or in Ston, and show the fishermen, coral divers, salt miners at work, and in their spare time. Pavić takes photos of their work equipment (boats, nets, salt wagonettes, etc.), processes and procedures (diving, mending fishing nets, drying coral, spreading salt, etc.) and fruits of their labour (fish catch, dried coral, etc.). Group portraits of island women or an image of the bocce ball game would complete Pavić’s epic depiction of the lives of people on the eastern Adriatic coast in mid-20th century.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Albertina Tomić
Photo: © from the National Museum of Modern Art’s archives, Zagreb

Skip to content