Robert Auer, Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1917

Robert Auer
Temptation of Saint Anthony, 1917
oil on canvas
205 x 251 cm

Robert Auer (1873–1952) studied painting at the School of Crafts in Zagreb, at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, where he moved to in 1895 and exhibited at the Munich Art Nouveau exhibition in 1896. Together with his wife, painter Leopoldina Auer Schmidt, in 1897 he opened a private art school in Zagreb, which was attended by painters Tomislav Krizman and Joso Bužan. He participated in the founding of the Lada Croatian Artists’ Association and the Society of Croatian Artists. He taught at the School of Crafts in Zagreb from 1905 and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb from 1918. In terms of style, Auer painted in the vein of Munich-based Academicism and Jugendstil, and his portraits and nudes in the spirit of idealised Realism were particularly popular among the bourgeoisie of his time.
Auer’s painting Temptation of Saint Anthony from 1917, depicts a frequently portrayed motif from the life of the 4th-century saint, Anthony the Abbot or Anthony the Great, who faced temptations of carnal desires and resisted them through prayer and fasting. Typically, St. Anthony the Abbot is depicted in his old age, leaning on a staff, wearing a hood and a monastic habit symbolizing his role as the father of monasticism. Here, however, he is shown in a whirlwind of nudes symbolizing the swirling vortex of passions against which he struggles, as a young man with a tonsure, a distinctive haircut introduced in Christianity in the 4th century and abolished in 1972. This hairstyle is commonly used to depict St. Anthony of Padua, who lived in the 13th century. The painting is executed in a realistic, academic style.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Filip Beusan © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Ljubo Babić, Golgotha, 1917

Ljubo Babić
Golgotha, 1917
oil on wood
78 x 81.2 cm

In several depictions of Golgotha from 1917, Ljubo Babić emphasises the universal theme of general disintegration and chaos with emptiness in the centre of the scene and pronounced light contrasts. Babić expands on the expressionist breakthrough of the composition and colourway in Kraljević’s Golgotha from 1912, and creates a suggestive vision of general doom. The painting is dominated by a sinister supernatural ambience that threatens to swallow the final scene of Christ’s Passion deep in the background.
Ljubo Babić attended secondary art school in Zagreb, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He continued his studies in Paris, and he graduated in art history in Zagreb in 1932. As a painter, set and costume designer, graphic artist, art pedagogue and critic, art historian, museologist, writer and editor, Ljubo Babić was an epochal figure in the 20th century Croatian culture and art. He participated in the foundation of the Croatian Spring Salon, the Independent Group of Artists, Group of Four, Group of Three, Group of Croatian Artists and Croatian Artists. As the first curator of the Modern Gallery (today the National Museum of Modern Art), he was the author of its first permanent display shown in 1920 in the Museum of Arts and Crafts. In 1948, he designed the first display of the National Museum of Modern Art’s collection, which represents the complex development of 19th and 20th century Croatian art, in the building in which the museum still operates today.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Pgoto: Gopran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

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