Café “La Coupole”, 1931
oil on canvas
46 x 60.8 cm
In 1931, Vjekoslav Parać vividly captures the dazzling atmosphere of a contemporary metropolis with a flickering scene from the Parisian café “La Coupole”. The young artist had already, in Zagreb, left behind the influence of Cézanne, while this frozen moment proves that instead of relying on Picasso or the surrealists, he trusted solely in his own eye and brush. Parać records his immediate experience of the café atmosphere in Paris with freshness and spirit, using free and shimmering colors without constriction. Using small, dancing brushstrokes reminiscent of Renoir’s style, Parać achieves a true and lively scene, infused with gentle irony.
Vjekoslav Parać (Solin, 1904 – Zagreb, 1986) obtained a degree in painting in Zagreb in 1926 in the class of Ljubo Babić. As a recipient of a French government scholarship, he honed his skills in Paris from 1929 to 1931 under Friesz and Lhote. Among the several Croatian artists he encountered in Paris, Juraj Plančić, who passed away in 1930, particularly influenced Parać. Alongside early Impressionist influences, Parać’s body of work is characterised by a compositionally measured realism of the Mediterranean artistic circle. During World War II, he joined the partisans, and in the post-war period, he was the director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split. From 1950, he lived in Zagreb, taught at the Academy of Fine Arts, and actively created, primarily focusing on simple compositions with strong use of color. Thematically, Parać’s most important works depict scenes from his homeland, Dalmatian landscapes, the lives of peasants, maritime history, and still life. He also created fresco paintings, drawings, prints, and stage designs.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, 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