Milivoj Uzelac, Harvest, 1922

Milivoj Uzelac
Harvest, 1922
oil on canvas
147 x 115 cm

Uzelac’s Harvest from 1922 is, like his earlier paintings, influenced by Miroslav Kraljević, Expressionism, Lhote’s late academic Cubism and Cézanne’s art technique. The composition was executed during Uzelac’s stay in Zagreb and heralds a new preoccupation with colour and solid modelling that will culminate in the period after his imminent departure to Paris. The foreground is dominated by the figure of the artist’s wife Nataša, and the already picked fruits of life that the artist is handing over to her. In this painting, Uzelac is reinterpreting the biblical scene of Adam and Eve, but he has reversed the conventional order.
A prominent Croatian painter, graphic artist and illustrator, Milivoj Uzelac was born in Mostar in 1897. After having finished secondary school in Banja Luka, he moved to Zagreb in 1912 to continue his art education in Tomislav Krizman’s painting school. In 1913 and 1914, he studied under Oton Iveković in the Provisional Advanced School of Arts and Fine Crafts. From 1915 to 1919, he moved to Prague to avoid military conscription, where he worked in the studio of mentor and patron Jan Preisler and occasionally attended lectures at the Academy. After World War I, he returned to Zagreb and exhibited energetic compositions and expressionist portraits and nudes at the Spring Salon.
Although he lived and worked in France continuously from 1923 until his death in 1977, Uzelac staged regular exhibitions in Croatia and had a lasting and significant impact on the local art scene.

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, 2023.

Milivoj Uzelac, Allegory of Echo, 1922

Milivoj Uzelac
Allegory of Echo, 1922
oil on canvas
208.2 x 100 cm

The specific, elongated format of the painting Allegory of Echo was commissioned for Robert Deutsch Maceljski, a wholesale distributor and industrialist, one of the most influential patrons on the Zagreb art scene between 1910 and 1939. It is part of a series of decorative compositions with allegorical depictions of beauty, echo, music and labour. The scene is dominated by the nude female figure, constructed with the classic use of volume and characteristic green and brown hues. The landscape is completely abstracted, crystalised and condensed into the background. Deep reductionism and flatness of the image are typical of Uzelac’s painting in the early 1920s, dominated by the influence of Cubo-Constructivism and formal Expressionism.

Milivoj Uzelac (Mostar, 1897 – Pasto Sobre, Cotignac, 1977) came to Zagreb in 1912 where he briefly studied printmaking with T. Krizman, and then from 1912 to 1914 he studied painting at the Provisional Advanced School of Arts and Fine Crafts under O. Iveković. The war interrupted his studies, but in 1915, as a military deserter he went to Prague where he occasionally attended lectures at the Academy and worked in Jan Preisler’s painting studio. He returned to Zagreb in 1919, but not for long, as he moved to Paris in 1923, where he spent almost his entire life, until 1963, when he moved to the Pasto Sobre estate in southern France, where he remained until his death. He created numerous drawings, illustrations of literary works, wall decorations (decorations of the Yugoslav Pavilion at the Exposition Internationale in Paris, 1937), templates for tapestries, posters and theatre stage sets.

Text: Marta Radman, Intern curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb 2022

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