A Reclining Female Nude, 1917
Hinko Juhn was a sculptor, ceramicist, medallist and art teacher, and the initiator of ceramic art in Croatia. He finished the High School of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb in 1911 in the class of Robert Frangeš-Mihanović, and in 1912 he studied in Florence. He started to study ceramics in 1918 in the Czech Republic, then in Dresden, where he visited the Meissen porcelain factory, and then in Vienna. As the first person in Croatia to have received formal training in ceramics, he became the Head of the Department of Ceramics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb (1921-1924), and then at the School of Crafts (1924-1940).
Juhn was one of the co-founders of the Spring Salon art event in 1916, whose exhibitions he participated in until the salon was discontinued in 1928. Spring Salon sculptors articulated their personal postulates of Modernism (including elements such as stylisation and expression, form reduction, realist and neo-classicist endeavours), with each sculptor, particularly Juhn, having achieved outstanding results at the salons.
In his oeuvre, Juhn focused on the human figure in general and the female nude in particular. He made sculptures of smaller dimensions and soft modulations featuring Art Nouveau stylisation. Under the influence of sculptors Aristide Maillol and Ivan Meštrović, he modelled poetic female nudes and portraits in stone, bronze, wood and ceramics. In the 1920s, he started modelling pure forms in the spirit of Art Deco, which was particularly pronounced in his ceramic statuettes (Diana with a Hind, 1925) and sports medals of rounded bodily volumes in motion (the Zagreb Automotive Club of Croatia plaque, 1932)
Juhn’s A Reclining Female Nude in a refined pose with her legs crossed and her striking head raised on top of a corpulent body is an example of poetic monumentality in small-scale sculpture.
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