Still Life, 1909
oil on canvas
Vladimir Becić (1886-1954) attended Menci Clement Crnčić and Bela Čikoš Sesija’s private school of painting in Zagreb. After having dropped out of law school, in 1905 he travelled to Munich and attended Heinrich Knirr’s private school of painting. After having enrolled in 1906 in the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, he completed Ludwig von Herterich’s drawing course and enrolled in Hugo von Habermann’s painting classes, also attended by Josip Račić, Miroslav Kraljević and Oskar Herman (the Munich Circle) between 1905 and 1910. He moved to Paris in 1909 and enrolled in the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and drew for Le Rire, a French humour magazine. In 1910 he started moving about different towns, including Zagreb, Osijek, Belgrade and Bitola. He spent the period between 1916 and 1918 on the Macedonian Front as a war correspondent and painter for the French L’Illustration weekly. After World War I ended, he travelled to Blažuj near Sarajevo, where he set up a studio and painted landscapes, portraits and scenes from everyday life in the countryside in the manner of colourist Realism. During the 1920s, he briefly painted in the vein of Magical Realism as well, but after he joined the Group of Three in 1929, and in his portraits, landscapes and scenes from everyday life returned to colourist Realism. Becić taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and was a member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Painted in the dimmed colours of the Munich School, Becić’s Still Life from 1909 is an excellent example of his application of the postulates of Cezannism. The shapes of the bread, fruit and jug displayed on a round table covered with a simple white tablecloth clearly indicate that Becić used the geometric objects of cylinder and sphere as their templates. The horizontal composition is simple and consists of three main parts: the lower half of the painting is occupied by a representation of the surface of the table, the upper half by a grey background, while the central part is where the motif of still life is arranged on the table.
Ivana Rončević Elezović, museum advisor of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb