Antun Motika
(1902 – 1992)
Bull, 1962
stained crystal glass
39 x 48 x 18cm

Antun Motika is one of the most important Croatian artists of the 20th century whose painting had a considerable impact in the period between the two world wars. He developed his own visual poetics after returning from his study trip in Paris (1930 – 1931), a kind of variant of post-Impressionism, which was manifested in the free application of thin layers of paint, a discreet, almost ornamental drawing and a frequent low angle perspective. Even though he started studying sculpture under R. Valdec, Motika completed his painting studies in 1926, under legendary professors of the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, M. Vanka, V. Becić, T. Krizman and Lj. Babić. His works from the time he spent in Mostar are a particular standout in his oeuvre, with their increasingly bright palette and a lyrical atmosphere of sorts. In early 1940, he initiated systematic research of different materials in the studio. In 1952, he created a series of drawings titled Archaic Surrealism, in which he advocated for complete freedom of artistic expression. During the 1950s and 1960s, he made book illustrations, through which he presented his experiences of music and realised his own variant of visual poetry. He also started modelling glass sculptures in collaboration with the glass factory in Rogaška Slatina and the glass workshops in Murano, uniting the skill of modelling volume and the obsession with pure light, its refraction and lumino-kinetic effects with the application of the pictorial faktura in the form of colouristic interventions.
Motika has participated in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, and has exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale. In 1975, he became a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts.
The museum sculpture Bull from 1962 was made in Murano, and with its fragile form of transparent crystal glass and only a few colour interventions (horns and spots on the upper body), it represents a witty paradox of the traditional depiction of an animal that is considered the embodiment of strength.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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