19th Century Croatian Painting until the 1898 Croatian Salon

The Collection includes more than 700 artworks that are representative examples of 19th century painting styles: Classicism, Romanticism, Biedermeier, as well as influences that were in various ways spreading to Croatia from European centres (Venice, Rome, Vienna, Budapest, Munich, Paris).

The artworks represent all stylistic shifts, peculiarities, expressions and phenomena that arose from the socio-political context and artistic achievements extant in said period in the area of present-day Croatia. In addition to works by Croatian artists, the collection also safeguards works by foreign artists who have, for a longer or shorter period, worked in the area of the Croatian geographical corpus or were acquired from foreign centres. In line with the frequent occurrence of painting imports, the NMMA also keeps Friedrich von Amerling’s work Portrait of a Young Woman and the works of itinerant painters. Slovenian artist Mihael Stroy (Portrait of Senator Kavić, 1839) and Czech artist Ivan Zasche (Portrait of an Old Man, 1857) created a significant part of their oeuvres in Croatia.

The works in this collection encompass the period of regional painting created in the absence of an art centre in Croatia – the museum holdings contain works of Franjo Salghetti Drioli from Zadar, Ivan Simonetti from Rijeka and Franjo Mücke from Varaždin, and a separate section contains works by artists from the so-called drawing schools, established throughout the Austro-Hungarian monarchy with the aim of encouraging artistic crafts. The most prominent of such schools in Croatia was the Osijek Drawing School. It was headed by Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Hugo Conrad von Hötzendorf, and for a short time by Ivan Moretti. The landscapes of the Osijek circle show stylistic changes, from Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf’s classicist landscapes (Tivoli, 1839) through his son Hugo Hötzendorf’s paintings of romantic ruins or pastoral landscapes to the realistic paintings of Adolf Waldinger. Ivana Zasche’s work Forest Landscape, 1835-1855 and Fanny Daubači’s The Forest, 1860 are among the best romantic landscapes in general. The central position in this period belongs to Vjekoslav Karas from Karlovac and his portraits of the Krešić couple (1852 – 1856), typical Biedermeier works with pronounced realistic elements.

The next unit consists of works by Ferdo Quiquerez (Landscape from the Roman Campagna, 1874), Nikola Mašić (Clouds over the Lowlands) and Iso Kršnjavi (Study for a Woman’s Head, 1874), painters educated at the Munich Academy striving to create large figurative compositions. Examples of such great academic figurative compositions are Nikola Mašić’s Goose-girl on the Sava River, 1870-1871, Celestin Medović’s Bacchanalia, 1893, and Bukovac’s composition Gundulić Imagining Osman, 1894. However, studies, especially those that were created in Italy, indicate an intuitive reception of pure painting. Dragan Melkus’s painting Blacksmith, 1887 and Menci Clement Crnčić’s Little Girl, 1890 are programmatic works of the Munich Academy.

Bukovac’s paintings of the so-called Colourful School of Zagreb, a variant, of sorts, of the impressionist manner (Portrait of Hugo Vasilije Hoyos, 1895, Japanese Woman, 1898) represent a new chapter in Croatian painting that will mark the 1898 Croatian Salon.

Dajana Vlaisavljević
Museum advisor / Head of Collection of 19th Century Croatian Painting until the 1898 Croatian Salon

Collection of Painting from 1898 to 1918

The Collection of 19th Century Painting was formed in the mid-1980s, and later divided into two units: the Collection of 19th Century Painting before 1898, and the Collection of Painting from 1898 to 1918. Smiljka Domac Ceraj, MA was he first curator of the collection.

The Collection of Painting from 1898 to 1918 consists of 401 catalogue units and includes mostly oils on canvas or cardboard, as well as a smaller number of watercolours, prints on paper and works created in mixed media. It encompasses the period of the turn from the 19th to the 20th century, from the Croatian Salon to the end of World War I, and incorporates stylistic movements ranging from Academic Realism, Pleinairism, Symbolism, Jugendstil to the first appearances of Expressionism and Cézanneism in Croatian painting. It includes the most important painters and paintresses in Croatia of this time, such as: Vlaho Bukovac, Mato Celestin Medović, Emanuel Vidović, Bela Čikoš Sesija, Ferdo Kovačević, Mirko Rački, Menci Clement Crnčić, Miroslav Kraljević, Josip Račić, Vladimir Becić, Nasta Rojc, Milan Steiner, Anka Krizmanić, Zlatko Šulentić, Ljubo Babić and others. A thematically important place in the Collection is occupied by the painting of landscapes, still lifes and portraits, then nudes, allegories, genre painting and religious themes.

The special significance of the Collection is that it documents the artistic and institutional rise of Croatian culture that began in the 1870s during the rule of Viceroy Ivan Mažuranić (1814–1890) and is marked by the activities of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer (1815–1905) and Isidor Kršnjavi (1845–1927). The Collection was augmented through Museum acquisitions and donations.

Ivana Rončević Elezović,
Museum advisor, Head of Collection of Painting from 1898 to 1918

Collection of 20th Century Painting from 1918 to 1945

The works that form part of the Collection of 20th Century Painting from 1918 to 1945 in the holdings of the National Museum of Modern Art represent the development of Croatian visual modernity in a wide variety of directions between World War I and the end of World War II.

Focused on the new, and in the context of contemporary European art movements, our artists who congregated around the Spring Salon, and especially the Prague Four (Milivoj Uzelac, Vilko Gecan, Marijan Trepše and Vladimir Varlaj), derive their style from Cézanneism and Expressionism towards Cubism and Post-Cubism. With the particularly imaginative works of Marino Tartaglia, the Collection also presents anthological visions of the Magical, Objective and Neoclassical Realism, especially in the works of Đuro Tiljak, Ivo Režek and Omer Mujadžić from the late 1920s. The Collection brings together intimately intoned scenes by Emanuel Vidović, Juraj Plančić and Antun Motika, but also the contributions of masters of the empathically energetic ‘Mediterranean” colour scheme, such as Ignjat Job, Petar Dobrović, Ivan Ettore from the 1930s, and the impending second wave of the avant-garde in the works of Leo Junek, Marijan Detoni and Frano Šimunović. In addition to the paradigmatic works of Our Expression by the larpurlartist Group of Three (Ljubo Babić, Vladimir Becić, Jerolim Miše) and the socially engaged practice of the Zemlja Group (Krsto and Željko Hegedušić, Oton Postružnik, Marijan Detoni, Kamilo Ružička), in the fourth decade of the 20th century the Collection contextualises the works of Ivan Generalić and Franjo Mraz as the founders of Naïve art in Croatia.

The Collection includes over 960 works painted between 1918 and 1945, which are continuously procured for the museum holdings through acquisitions and donations from the artists and their heirs or other owners. Numerous exhibitions, as well as scientific and professional research and interpretation of themes and phenomena related to the reference period are based on anthological works from the Collection of 20th Century Painting from 1918 to 1945.

Lada Bošnjak Velagić
Senior curator / Head of Collection of 20th Century Painting from 1918 to 1945

Collection of Painting after 1945

The National Museum of Modern Art’s Collection of Painting after 1945 is a visual history of art from Social Realism to the present day. Formed after the war, it now comprises 1,263 works represented in stylistic formations and encompasses the basic functions of safekeeping and professional preservation of artistic material.

The post-war outstanding achievements of V. Becić, M. Tartaglia and A. Kinert show a departure from the dogmatic Social Realism, while S. Kopač introduced Art Brut in 1949. E. Murtić’s paradigmatic work Highway from 1952 is a figurative precursor to Abstract Expressionism that is continued by A. Kaštelančić, Š. Perić and V. Kuliš.

O. Gliha, F. Šimunović and F. Kulmer were the forerunners of Objective, Organic, Lyrical Abstraction and Tachism, while the Geometric Abstraction and the idea of synthesis of all visual art disciplines was introduced by EXAT 51 Group (V. Kristl, I. Picelj, B. Rašica and A. Srnec). The proto-conceptual Gorgona Group (1959 – 66) is represented by paintings of J. Vaništa, Đ. Seder, M. Jevšovar and the absolute painting of J. Knifer, while the painting of Art Informel of the 1950s and the 1960s is presented in the works of I. Gattin and E. Feller. J. Knifer and M. Šutej represent the international art projects developed on the achievements of the historical avant-garde and New Tendencies (1961 – 73).

Primary and Analytical Painting (1974 – 80) is interpreted by the works of A. Rašić and B. Demur, who, together with M. Stilinović and V. Martek, represent the conceptual painting of the Group of Six Authors (1975 – 81). Permanence of the figurative ranges from Intimism (S. Šohaj, N. Reiser) and Surrealism (M. Stančić) through the existential (Lj. Ivančić), naïve (I. Generalić) and colouristic (I. Dulčić) to the engaged figuration of the Biafra Group (1970 – 78). The Hyperrealism of the 1970s is expressed by I. Friščić and J. Fatur.

From the return to image in the early 1980s to contemporary painting, the collection reflects various postmodern neo-poetics: New Geometry of D. Jurić and E. Schubert; monochromatic painting of A. Jerković and J. Perić; new metaphysics of Ž. Lapuh, Lettrism of A. Zanze. D. Sokić develops an undisguised quote in his creative interpretation of P. Mondrian, while B. Dimitrijević’s quote of J. Pollock, transformed into a figurative hybrid, is made topical. N. Ivančić represents non-expressive figuration, Ž. Kipke the hermetic, and M. Trebotić the mnemonic.

The diversity of New Figuration of the late 1980s and the early 1990s is continued by L. Artuković, Z. Novak and later by M. Vekić, with the religious variant of T. Buntak. New Realists of the new millennium are represented by paintings of S. Tadić and M. Grlić.

Željko Marciuš
Museum advisor / Head of Collection of Painting after 1945

Sculpture Collection

The NMMA Sculpture Collection comprises 785 sculptures, reliefs, installations and objects made of bronze, marble, plaster, terracotta, porcelain, plexiglass and various mixed media created in the period from the mid-19th century to the present day, as a relevant representation of heterogenous morphological expressions, phenomena and individual poetics of past periods and the pluralism of contemporary art practice.

The sculpture of Neoclassicism and Academism, based on the classical design canons, has appeared in Croatia in the mid-19th century, in such works as the equestrian sculptures Viceroy Josip Jelačić and St. George Slaying the Dragon by the then popular Viennese sculptor Anton Dominik Ferkorn. Vatroslav Donegani and Ivan Rendić were the first Croatian academic sculptors in that period. They were both educated in Venice and have shaped their poetics in the synergy of Classicism, Romanticism and Realism.

Rudolf Valdec and Robert Frangeš-Mihanović, Croatian sculptors who were educated in Vienna and Munich, as well as Ivo Kerdić, will mark the beginning of 20th century with their modernist work under the auspices of Secession. Frangeš stands out with his creative ability, a virtuoso who designed large and small-scale sculptures in bronze. The appearance of Ivan Meštrović, who shaped works of universal value with a distinctive skill, will exert a significant influence on Croatian sculpture in the first half of the 20th century. Branislav Dešković created animalistic works in the spirit of Impressionism. Many sculptors, such as Hinko Juhn, Jozo Turkalj, Marin Studin, Frane Cota have created valuable works in their oeuvres as part of the Spring Salon (1916 – 1928) art event – mostly in salon formats and with intimate subject matter, executed in bronze, marble, ceramics or wood. Dujam Penić and Robert Jean Ivanović are closely affiliated to them. With the emergence of the socially engaged Zemlja Group in the 1930s, August Augustinčić and Vanja Radauš introduced expressivity and engaged themes into Croatian sculpture, while Frano Kršinić achieved his own lyrical synthesis of form. Lujo Bezeredy, Pavao Perić, Ivo Lozica, Grga Antunac and Velibor Mačukatin, in turn, are sculptors of the psychologically motivated realism. Petar Smajić and Sofija Naletilić-Penavuša are strong sculptural personalities and representatives of Naïve art.

Kosta Angeli Radovani, Vojin Bakić and Dušan Džamonja are the exponents of the new spirit in Croatian sculpture after the 1950s. The international movement of Neo-constructivism and the visual research of the New Tendencies encouraged Aleksandar Srnec to design luminokinetic objects, and Vjenceslav Richter and Ivan Picelj to create Systemic sculptures. In the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, Miroslav Šutej made mobile, brightly coloured plastic objects in wood. Belizar Bahorić and Stevan Luketić belong to the circle of abstract sculpture, while Ksenija Kantoci, Branko Ružić, Šime Vulas, Raul Godoni and Milena Lah built their oeuvres between abstraction and figuration. The works of Zvonimir Lončarić, Vasko Lipovac, Zlatko Bourek, Stanko Jančić and Marija Ujević-Galetović show a penchant for elements of Pop Art, while Josip Diminić created abstract organic sculptures. Ivan Kožarić most consistently shaped primary forms using the principle of redesign. In the early 1980s, Stjepan Gračan, Ratko Petrić, Miro Vuco (Biafra Group) and Velerije Michieli designed works of engaged figurative art. Members of the Group of Six Authors, who worked intensively in Zagreb from 1975 to 1981, including Mladen Stilinović, are the exponents of conceptual art. With her engagement, Vlasta Delimar is closely affiliated with them. Nikola Koydl, Ivan Ladislav Galeta, Šime Perić, Peruško Bogdanić, Ante Rašić, Vladimir Gašparić-Gapa, Slavomir Drinković, Kuzma Kovačić, Petar Barišić, Kažimir Hraste, Matko Mijić and Dalibor Stošić created sculptures, objects and installations of free associative abstract forms.

Tatijana Gareljić
Museum advisor / Head of NMMA Sculpture Collection

The Collection of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints

The Collection of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints includes more than 3,800 museum objects. It was formed after the first major systematisation of museum material in the latter half of the 1960s, when the need arose to add artworks created on paper to the already existing collections of painting and sculpture. It mostly consists of works executed in various drawing techniques i.e., watercolours, tempera, gouache and pastels on paper. In terms of sheer numbers, the print category is the second largest in the collection. Most of the print sheets are dated in the second half of the 20th century. Within this category, a special place is occupied by the print and poetry portfolios and various bibliophilic editions. The Collection of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints was presented in 2020 with the exhibition “Collection in the Rearview Mirror”.

Klaudio Štefančić
Curator / Head of Collection of Watercolours, Drawings and Prints

Collection of Medals and Plaques

The NMMA Collection of Medals and Plaques comprises 3,500 works, most of which belong to the Collection of Eng. Dragutin Mandl and present a cross-section of the Croatian medal-making from the mid-19th century to the present day.

A period of autochthonous modern medallic art in Croatia begins during the Vienna Secession and it was pioneered by the Croatian sculptors Robert Frangeš-Mihanović and Rudolf Valdec, whose commemoratives rose to the level of European medal-making of the time. The prolific medallic oeuvre of Ivo Kerdić constitutes the cornerstone of the Croatian medal-making history during the first half of the 20th century. This period is marked by the Secessionist decorativeness and a shallow, almost painterly relief, and from the 1920s onwards it took on the refined volumes of Art Déco. With the change of the historical medal form in the 1940s, Vanja Radauš reshaped its entrenched circular form, in both the formal and morphological sense, thus blazing the trail for the contemporary Croatian medallic art. Želimir Janeš went a step further and morphologically speaking introduced the forms of tactile and free-standing objects. The recent medal-making oeuvre of Damir Mataušić with its variety and abundance of the minutely executed works, a well-established independent vocabulary of symbols and the introduction of new techniques and materials, is equal to the contemporary representative medal.

In addition to Croatian minters and engravers and some foreign medallists, the Collection also comprises medal works of the following Croatian artists: Hermina Ferić, Ivan Meštrović, Mila Wod, Rudolf Spiegler, Iva Simonović-Despić, Jozo Turkalj, Hinko Juhn, Viktor Bernfest, Marin Studin, Frano Kršinić, Frane Cota, Teodor Krivak, Frano Meneghello Dinčić, Antun Augustinčić, Grga Antunac, Velibor Mačukatin, Ivan Jeger, Branimir Crlenjak, Želimir Janeš, Kosta Angeli Radovani, Ivan Antolčić, Dalibor Parać, Stipe Sikirica, Zdravko Brkić, Kuzma Kovačić and Zvonimir Šepat.

The common understanding of the medal in the cultural and historical context is its obverse and reverse, its content and meaning, while the updated contemporary obverse of the medal is only a medal in its form and it contains deeply personal themes and emotions, and its context is associative and meditative like the medals of Antun Motika, Đurđica Kovačiček, Matko Mijić and Ana Divković.

Tatijana Gareljić
Museum advisor / Head of NMMA Collection of Medals and Plaques

Collection of New Media (Photography, Objects, Installations, Video art, etc.)

The New Media Collection of is the newest collection of the NMMU. Its formation began in 2000 when the Museum commenced presentation of media art in its programs. The collection includes 582 artworks, most of which belong to the fields of video art and photography.

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