Vojin Bakić
(1915 - 1992)
Bull, 1943

Bakić is one of the most important Croatian modernist sculptors who embraced abstraction and new tendencies, gaining international significance. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1934 to 1939 and attended advanced courses with Robert Frangeš Mihanović, Frano Kršinić, and Ivan Meštrović. Frano Kršinić’s engagement was particularly important, as he saved Bakić from the tragic fate of his brothers by taking him on as his assistant during World War II. During that period, Bakić also worked at the Faculty of Agriculture, where he likely drew inspiration from animals, particularly bulls, which he later stripped of description and reduced to simple forms with smooth surfaces and rounded edges. In the 1950s, Bakić persisted in exploring the abstraction of organic origin. He received international recognition at the Venice Biennale in 1956, with critics particularly highlighting his large bronze sculpture of a Bull. He continued his exploration of reducing the representational and anthropomorphic elements, focusing on pure form in which volume opens up to space, giving equal importance to the positive and negative shape. He applied these same modernist principles in the conception of monuments to anti-fascism, which had previously often been outdated academic compositions.
The small-scale museum sculpture Bull from 1943 was influenced by his work in Kršinić’s workshop. Bakić harmoniously combines form and movement into a cohesive whole. Despite the sculpture’s small dimensions, Bakić managed to portray the bull as a bearer of symbolic strength, particularly by emphasizing the characteristic position of the lowered head before the animal’s powerful attack.

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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