The Head of Christ, 1925
Juraj Škarpa attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (1913-1914), and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1920 in the class of Prof. Robert Frangeš Mihanović.
He was an associate of sculptor Ivan Meštrović on the Račić Family Mausoleum project in Cavtat, with whom he subsequently parted ways. In terms of style, Škarpa is an inter-war modernist. He combined Art Nouveau with Expressionism and became one of few Croatian expressionist sculptors. He modelled portraits and allegorical compositions in stone and wood, although a large part of his oeuvre comprises sacral and cemetery sculpture. Having been visibly influenced by Robert Frangeš Mihanović, he successfully modelled female nudes.
Juraj Škarpa’s study for The Head of Christ from 1925 shows how true he was to his own expressionist and visual language. Expressively, the elongated head is conceived as a mask. The expressiveness is potentiated by the red colour of the wood, which can be interpreted symbolically (grapevine, wine, blood, the Eucharist).
Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum advisor 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