Sonja Kovačić - Tajčević
A Study of a Female Nude, 1934
charcoal on paper
560 x 440 mm
Besides Slava Raškaj and Nasta Rojc, Sonja Kovačić-Tajčević was one of the first female artists in Croatia to have received an education at an art academy and to have introduced into the patriarchal culture of art not only a certain manner and style characteristic of every creative individual, but also a certain experience which we can call feminine. Most of her oeuvre is associated with inter-war art movements (Post-Cubism in particular), which is why it is difficult to distinguish the scenes in her paintings from the scenes painted by her male colleagues. A number of her drawings kept in the holdings of the National Museum of Modern Art offer the chance of a different interpretation. Sonja Kovačić-Tajčević’s A Study of a Female Nude from 1934 is just another study in pen, just another portrayal of the naked female body, a motif favoured by male artists. Yet, something in it seems to stand out from similar works drawn by men. The impression is difficult to describe, because the theme is generic and the historical context in which the drawing was created is firmly codified. Does Kovačić-Tajčević’s female perspective hide in the way the model leans, in the pronounced shadow that falls on her right shoulder and the right side of her face, in the light-shadow relationship on the model’s chest and abdomen, in all of this taken together or elsewhere? It is difficult to say, but the interpretation of women’s creativity must be built from somewhere.
Sonja Kovačić-Tajčević (1894-1968) studied painting in Zagreb, Graz and Vienna. She graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1917, and in 1926 she attended a training course in Paris with painter André Lhote. She stayed in Paris for the second time in the period between 1928 and 1934, which she herself regarded as her artistically most prolific period.
Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator 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