Ivan Picelj, Surface I, Candra (-), 1966 – 1968

Ivan Picelj
(1924 – 2011)
Surface I, Candra (-), 1966 - 1968
painted metal, wood
100 x 100 cm
MG-2534

Croatian painter, printmaker, designer and sculptor, Ivan Picelj graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1946. He is one of the founders of EXAT 51 Group as well as the New Tendencies movement.
He created programmed works that explore visual perception, rhythms and motion. He started from the general principles of Constructivism and Minimalism, and his basic procedures included the reduction of shapes to geometric elements, multiplication of a basic sculptural unit within the regular raster surface and analysis of the tonal register of primary colours.
In this spirit he created reliefs and objects in wood and metal. He repeatedly multiplied a single geometric figure within the regular raster surface, with small shifts either in colour or shape, in which he often explored the dimensions of visual perception. With the minimalist design of the monochrome geometrically abstract relief titled Surface I, Picelj achieves the subtle light interaction between the metal structure and space.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Ivan Meštrović, Portrait of Karmen Matić, 1914

Ivan Meštrović
(1883 – 1962)
Portrait of Karmen Matić, 1914
bronze
54.5 x 35 x 30.5 cm
MG-6505

Ivan Meštrović is the most prominent Croatian sculptor of the first half of the 20th century who has, during his lifetime, achieved worldwide fame and acclaim. He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1901 to 1905, and during his formative years he was influenced by the prevailing atmosphere of the Vienna Secession, having himself become its typical representative in the medium of sculpture. Between 1923 and 1942, he served as the rector of Zagreb’s Academy of Fine Arts. His artistic, professional and public work exerted significant influence on his coevals, the younger generation of sculptors and the birth of Modernism in Croatia.
Since the beginning of his distinguished career, Meštrović had been recognised as a remarkable talent and master artist of a distinctive skill at shaping sculptural forms. Using his exceptional talent, he executed monumental, religious and intimate motifs of universal value.
Meštrović’s entire oeuvre is steeped in portrait sculptures and unique female characters featuring harmonious elegance and refined stylisation. Together with his wife Ruža Meštrović, he often portrayed his contemporaries and friends. Carmen de Spalatin was a woman of exceptional beauty and a close friend of Ruža Meštrović, who inspired her close friend Ivan Meštrović. The portrait bust of a young woman is modelled with her head slightly turned left and wrapped in a smooth scarf, which is tied at the back of the neck and highlights the curve of her head. Bangs and strands of her short hair peek out from under the scarf framing her serious face. The standout features are her physiognomic details, such as the eyebrows and drawn eyelids. The lips are pressed together and the chin is rounded. The volume is closed, and the surfaces are smooth and fluid, while in the profile view, the sides of the bust are cut flatly. The sculptor balances the decorative aspect of the style with the model’s character, without falling into the trap of excessive beautification and attractive visual representation.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, 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

Sanja Iveković, General Alert (Soap Opera) / 1995

Sanja Iveković
Opća opasnost (sapunica) / 1995.
kolor video
t=6,33 min
MG-6840-f

Upravo bi video “Opća opasnost (sapunica)” mogao poslužiti kao dokaz da je javni televizijski servis instanca s kojom je Sanja Iveković (1947) - proslavljena hrvatska umjetnica i feministica - u neprestanoj komunikaciji, od samih početaka svoga umjetničkog djelovanja kada se u okviru festivala Trigon u Grazu 1973. zajedno s Daliborom Martinisom uhvatila u koštac s prirodom televizijskog emitiranja, do trenutka kada televizijski medij, tijekom Domovinskog rata (1991-95.) u Hrvatskoj - prije implementacije World Wide Weba - još jednom potvrđuje svoju društvenu aktualnost. Nije to dijalog, to je konfrontacija, ali od one vrste koja sa sobom nosi rezultate u obliku specifične umjetničke spoznaje. Video prikazuje fragmente iz popularne južnoameričke serije, tzv. sapunice i fragmente iz filma “Do posljednjeg daha” Jean-Luc Godarda, a koji su bili emitirani na hrvatskoj javnoj televiziji tijekom ratnih zbivanja. Budući da je unatoč ratu, hrvatska televizija uspjela osigurati emitiranje na cijelom području zemlje, pokazalo se da televizijski medij može poslužiti i kao sredstvo za uzbunjivanje civilnog stanovništva: tijekom emitiranja dnevnog programa (informativne emisije, filmovi, sportska događanja itd) upozoravalo bi se gledatelje da su na određenoj lokaciji počela ratna djelovanja i da pojačaju svoj oprez. Upozorenje je imalo formu klasičnog televizijskog telopa: pri dnu ili vrhu televizijskog ekrana bio bi pušten tekst koji bi obavještavao gledatelje da je znak opće opasnosti izdan za određenu lokaciju. Te neobične jukstapozicije – proglašavanje izvanredne situacije na pozadini zabavnog sadržaja javne televizije - Sanja Iveković je hvatala na svom kućnom prijamniku i od snimaka napravila video, a on nam pak, iz svoje uradi sam estetike ukazuje na nekoliko važnih momenata, od kojih ovom prilikom treba istaknuti sljedeće. Najprije na sam kraj jednog dugog razdoblja u kojem je sredstva javnog informiranja (radio, televizija, novine) bilo moguće organizirati i kontrolirati centralistički, zatim i na tužnu činjenicu da je sve podložno promjeni – država, tehnologija, umjetnost – osim društvenih stereotipa o ženi: u oba slučaja, u Godardovom filmu i južnoameričkoj sapunici, ženina je uloga svedena na katalizator romanse.

Tekst: Klaudio Štefančić, viši kustos Nacionalnog muzeja moderne umjetnosti © Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb

Slavomir Drinković, Ab ovo, 1977

Slavomir Drinković
Ab ovo, 1977
polished Swedish granite, steel
12.5 x 23.5 x 23.5 cm
MG-6299

Slavomir Drinković is known as a sculptor of extremely simple forms, tense surfaces, and relationships, often using traditional sculptural materials and their combinations. One of the key themes in his work is a fissure, and thus his knowledge of the method of driving wedges to achieve the direction of a desired crack is one of Drinković’s key shaping methods. The sculpture Ab ovo from 1977 depicts a black granite egg as the beginning of everything, which irreversibly splits open in the middle, revealing the other side of its rich structure. With the title of the sculpture, Drinković refers to an expression taken from Horace’s work De arte poetica, in which he praises Homer for beginning the Iliad with the siege of Troy, and not “ab ovo,” that is, with the birth of the beautiful Helen, who, according to the myth, was born from an egg.
Slavomir Drinković (1951, Jelsa – 2016, Zagreb) was a Croatian sculptor who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1977 under the mentorship of Valerije Michieli. From 1977 to 1979, he worked as an associate at the Master Workshop of Antun Augustinčić and Ivan Sabolić. Since 1995, he has been working at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb as an associate professor at the Department of Sculpture, assuming the position of a full professor in 2001. He is also the head of the Summer Stone Sculpture Studio at the Academy, as part of which the project Joy was realized. Numerous sculptures by Drinković have been installed in public spaces in Croatia and abroad, among which the sculpture of Marko Marulić in Berlin in 2000, and the memorial of mass graves from the Croatian War of Independence in Vukovar in 1998, deserve special mention. Drinković has also worked as an interior and furniture designer, as well as a theater set designer.

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Sanja Iveković, General Alert (Soap Opera) / 1995

Sanja Iveković
General Alert (Soap Opera) / 1995
colour video
d=6:33 min
MG-6840-f

The video “General Alert (Soap Opera)” could serve as evidence that the public television service is an entity with which Sanja Iveković (1947) – the celebrated Croatian artist and feminist – is in constant communication. This communication started from the very beginning of her artistic career when, as part of the Trigon Festival in Graz in 1973, she and Dalibor Martinis tackled the nature of television broadcasting. It continued until the moment when the television medium, during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995) – before the implementation of the World Wide Web – once again affirmed its social relevance. It is not a dialogue, but a confrontation, albeit of a kind that brings results in the form of specific artistic insight. The video shows fragments from a popular South American soap opera and excerpts from Jean-Luc Godard’s film “À bout de souffle,” (“Breathless”) which were broadcasted on Croatian public television during the war. Despite the war, Croatian television managed to ensure nationwide broadcasting, demonstrating that the television medium could also serve as a means to alert the civilian population. During the broadcast of daily programs (news, films, sports events, etc.), viewers would be notified that a specific location was under attack and advised to exercise caution. The warning took the form of a classic television teletext message, displayed at the bottom or top of the television screen, informing viewers that a state of general alert had been declared for a particular location. Sanja Iveković captured these unusual juxtapositions - the declaration of an emergency situation against the backdrop of entertainment content on public television – on her home television set and compiled them into a video. Through her do-it-yourself aesthetics, the video highlights several important moments, of which the following are noteworthy. Firstly, it marks the end of a long period during which the means of public information (radio, television, newspapers) could be organized and controlled in a centralized manner. Secondly, it draws attention to the sad fact that everything is subject to change – the state, technology, art – except for societal stereotypes about women: in both cases, in Godard’s film and the South American soap opera, the woman’s role is reduced to a catalyst for romance.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Still image from the video: From the National Museum of Modern Art's archives

Nina Ivančić, Sun 12, 1980

 

Nina Ivančić
Sun 12, 1980
oil on canvas
90 x 100 cm
MG-4085

With the painting Sun 12, divided into several uneven fields, Nina Ivančić foreshadows the geometrization that she will fully devote herself to after moving to New York in 1986. Dynamism is achieved by the contrast of warm colours on one side of the painting and cool colours on the other, as well as the thick and clear brushstrokes on the canvas. Sun 12, by the artist who has been formed within the traditional medium of painting in the mid-1970s, at the time of the emergence of new media and materials, is certainly an indicator of her position as one of the leading figures of the New Image painting.
Nina Ivančić was born in Zagreb in 1953. She studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb under the mentorship of Prof. Šime Perić. After having graduated in 1977, she continued her education in the Master Painting Workshop led by her father Prof. Ljubo Ivančić, and Prof. Nikola Reiser. Soon after, she received the Fulbright Scholarship for the MFA Program in Painting at Columbia University in New York, where she lived and worked from 1986 to 1993. Since 1999, she has been teaching painting at the Arts Academy in Split, and her artistic career has been marked by more than thirty solo exhibitions and numerous group exhibitions at home and abroad, including the Youth Biennale in Paris (1982) and the Venice Biennale (1986, 1995). Her works are part of numerous private and public collections. She has received a number of awards, including the Binney and Smith Inc. Fine Art Achievement Award (New York, 1987) and Vjesnik’s Josip Račić Fine Art Award (Zagreb, 2003). The artist’s work demonstrates a layered artistic execution that transcends the boundaries of time and space.

Text: Lorena Šimić, trainee curator 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

Sanja Iveković, Make up-Make down, 1978

Sanja Iveković
Make up-Make down, 1978
b/w video
d=5:16 min
MG-6840-c

In the video “Make up – Make down”, the viewer quickly notices an unusual fact: the face of the woman applying makeup is missing. The ultimate goal of makeup application, such as applying lipstick to the lips, mascara to the eyelashes, eyeliner to the eyes, etc., is not shown. Instead, all attention is focused on the gestures through which the artist manipulates the makeup tools. These gestures are deliberately slow and erotic, attracting the male gaze but not satisfying it, thereby exposing the mechanism through which patriarchal culture establishes the association between women, femininity, and beauty. In the comments on her video "Make up – Make down," renowned Croatian artist and feminist Sanja Iveković (1947) often emphasizes the connection between the act of applying makeup and watching television. Both activities take place in private settings. “Application of makeup is a discrete activity performed between my mirror and myself. (…) The TV message is received in the isolation of a private space.” By combining these seemingly disparate practices, Iveković has achieved a distinct form of artistic critique. The video follows the basics of television marketing, image quality, and scene staging, but subtly undermines them by omitting the portrayal of the woman’s face, thereby challenging social stereotypes. The intertwining of the private and the public in Sanja Iveković’s art was noticed early on. In 1982, Marijan Susovski, a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, wrote that her works “direct us to consider the relationship between a woman’s private life and the widely accepted, clichéd ‘lives’ of women in advertising photographs, as well as all possible subconscious influences in which the erotic moment comes to the fore.” Finally, we should note an interesting coincidence. “Make up – Make down” was created in the same year when the first international feminist conference “Comrade Woman. Women’s Question – A New Approach?” was held in Belgrade. It was a conference of the so-called second wave of feminism and the first event of its kind in Southeastern and Eastern Europe.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Still image from the video: From the National Museum of Modern Art's archives

Miljenko Stančić, Trip to Slovenia, 1966

Miljenko Stančić
Trip to Slovenia, 1966
oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm
MG-6705

Miljenko Stančić (1926 – 1977) was a pioneer and the most prominent painter of post-WWII Surrealism and Fantastic art in Croatia that is based on tradition, precise tone modulation and the legacy of old masters (G. de La Tour, J. Vermeer from Delft, P. de Hoh), as well as the painter of pure perception – that is, Josip Račić. With his exceptional skill and the synthesis of the old and the new, Stančić created a unique style in the manner of the so-called museum, anachronistic painting. His oeuvre between the early 1950s and the late 1970s features personal metamorphoses (vedutas of Varaždin, fantastical transformations of human figures in poetic interiors, erotic contents) and subdued gammas illuminated by “animated lighting and an increasingly virtuosic and melancholy palette” (M. Krleža). He obtained a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949, and in printmaking in 1951, after having attended T. Krizman’s advanced graphic art school. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts between 1960 and 1977. Stančić’s Trip to Slovenia (1966) is a work that perceives the hallucinatory dreamwork reflected by simulations that always point to something other than what is seen and are, at the same time, close to the experiential inhabiting of the “I-form” and distant from it. The floating dream phantasmagorias, in which children’s bodies defy gravity, by the painter in whose “personal mythology light is synonymous with painting” (I. Zidić), may represent dreamlike memories of childhood (and the artist’s brother). Stančić was a member of the Group of Five, and from the 1960s onwards he also participated at the exhibitions of the Belgian group of artists Fantasmagie.

Text: Željko Marciuš, 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

Ksenija Kantoci, Torso, 1969 – 1971

Ksenija Kantoci
(1909 – 1995)
Torso, 1969 - 1971
carving, wood
66 x 25 x 33 cm
MG-3926

Ksenija Kantoci graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1937, and then continued her studies in France, Italy and Germany.
She modelled stylised portraits, abstract female figures and heads of domestic animals in bronze, stone, terracotta and wood, all of which are complemented by drawings made in various techniques. Kantoci’s striking psychologically charged and realistically conceived portraits feature a reduction of form and a compression of volume. By reducing mass, Kantoci almost completely abandoned the reality-based concept, which clearly sets her apart from other Croatian sculptors.
Ksenija Kantoci is an exceptional Croatian sculptress who received her input directly from the natural environment, especially the region of Dalmatinska Zagora (Dalmatian Hinterland), the impressive forms of which, such as animal heads, figures of women and chimneys, she transformed into works of universal significance. She has created a prolific oeuvre of wooden sculptures with rudimentary forms, accentuated monumentality, strong existential inspiration and symbolic dimension. By reducing matter, she created associative sculptures based on real templates, whether we recognise in them animal heads or figures, primarily of women. By accepting the natural properties of wood, the conflicting duality of its structure and the existing texture, she creates works of vertical form, closed core and hermetic content that are firmly rooted in the ground. She elaborates the archetypal wooden monolithic forms throughout the period of her sculptural maturity. Kantoci softly opens the mass with horizontal and vertical orientations in a balanced relationship of perpendicular and horizontal forms, as in the work Torso from her mature phase. The five-part form has a compact volume of elementary values and ambiguous associative stimulus.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, 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

Ivan Meštrović, Portrait of Mrs. P. (Ada Pavičić), 1935

Ivan Meštrović
(1883 – 1962)
Portrait of Mrs. P. (Ada Pavičić), 1935
casting, bronze
57 x 31 x 30 cm
MG-800

Ivan Meštrović is the most prominent Croatian sculptor of the first half of the 20th century who has, during his lifetime, achieved worldwide fame and acclaim. He studied sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna from 1901 to 1905, and during his formative years he was influenced by the prevailing atmosphere of the Vienna Secession, having himself become its most prominent representative in the medium of sculpture. His artistic, professional and public work exerted significant influence on his coevals, the younger generation of sculptors and the birth of Modernism in Croatia.
After the representative national cycle, Meštrović became increasingly preoccupied with religious and intimate themes, especially female figures and portraits executed with elegant Art Nouveau gesture, such as the portrait of his then wife Ruža Meštrović from 1915, a masterpiece of his portrait sculpture. He models the portrait busts of young de Spalatin sisters, Carmen (1914) and Ada (1915), in a similar manner.
Ada is sculpted in bronze two decades later, and the previous melodious gesture and Art Nouveau stylisation is now juxtaposed with a realistic portrait of a woman, with a narrowly cut and freely modelled bust and dynamic wavy hair. Ada Pavičić’s physiognomy is recognisable. Her face is modelled delicately and softly, with accentuated details and a pensive, yet resolute facial expression and downcast gaze, a prominent nose, a fuller round chin and high forehead. The locks of her combed hair are styled at the nape in a low, voluminous bun.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, 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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