(1886 – 1954)
Peasant Woman, 1926
oil on canvas, 170 x 88 cm
Vladimir Becić (Slavonski Brod, 1886 – Zagreb, 1954) started his art education at Menci Klement Crnčić’s and Bela Čikoš Sesija’s private painting school, then in 1905, he went to Munich where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in the class of Hugo von Habermann, and with colleagues Miroslav Kraljević, Josip Račić and Oskar Herman he formed the so-called Munich Circle of Painters that will become the cornerstone of development of modern art in Croatia. Soon after, he moved to Paris (1909), where he continued his training at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, worked as an illustrator for the magazine Le Rire and exhibited his work at the Salon d’Automne. Having been a volunteer during World War I at the Macedonian Front, after the war ended, in 1915 he worked as a war correspondent, photographer and illustrator for the magazine L'ilustration.
In 1919, he settled with his family in Blažuj, founded the first art colony with painters Vilko Šeferov and Karlo Mijić, and stayed there until 1923. He then moved to Zagreb after accepting the position at the Academy where he worked until his retirement in 1947.
In the early 1920s, we notice a change in Becić’s painting towards a more pronounced purity of expression and plasticity of volume, which he builds with a reduced palette of earthy hues of brown, ochre, orange and red colours. The role of colour becomes increasingly important and we notice a distinct mark of the painter’s style. He frequently paints monumental female figures and nudes in plein air, such as the Peasant Woman, which represents the pinnacle of achievement in terms of the interpretation of volume of the female semi-nude.
Text: Marta Radman, trainee curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb