Oton Postružnik, Peasants, 1928

Oton Postružnik
Peasants, 1928
oil on canvas
74,5 × 96 cm

In his painting Peasants from 1928 Oton Postružnik synthesises what is essential from a real scene. The common scene featuring roughly and somewhat awkwardly portrayed figures symbolises the cruelty of the life of peasants. By using his very own ‘individual’ style, Postružnik symbolically depicted reality bearing clear features of his native landscape. The scene portrays typical figures with suppressed facial expressions and gestures, and is painted in typical reddish-brown tones with the light dimmed. Also, his motif of bricks in the wall separating the figures from the unattainable landscape in the background heralded the fundamental postulates of the Earth Group of Artists, of which Postružnik was one of the founding members.

Oton Postružnik studied painting in Zagreb and Prague. He also studied in Paris with André Lhote and Moïse Kisling. Upon his return to Zagreb, he participated in the Graphic Exhibition and started preparing The Grotesques exhibition together with painter Ivan Tabaković. Both exhibitions were held in 1926 and highlighted Postružnik’s not only personal, but also generational departure from well-established aesthetic (particularly expressionist) norms, presenting him as an already mature Avant-Garde artist. In 1927, Postružnik graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in the class of Professor Ljubo Babić. Being socially aware and completely committed to the truth, in 1929 he partook in the founding of the Earth Group of Artists, whom he regularly exhibited with until he left the group in 1933. During his second scholarship to Paris in 1935, he enriched his style with colour, which was until then based on simple drawing and form. Having started out as a poetic intimist, his Dalmatian motifs from the 1950s synthesise form and colour uniquely. Having been inspired by nature, he later painted in the vein of Lyrical Abstraction. He also created prints and ceramics, and taught painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb between 1958 and 1970.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator 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

Frano Kršinić, Awakening, 1928

Frano Kršinić
Awakening, 1928

Frano Kršinić studied sculpture at the Crafts School in Korčula and at the Sculpture and Stonemasonry School in Hořice in the Czech Republic (1913-1917), and attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (1917-1921). He was one of the founding members of the Earth Association of Artists and a member of the Independent Collective of Croatian Artists. He contributed significantly to the development of contemporary Croatian sculpture with his refined sculpture and unconstrained approach to teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
His appearance on Croatia’s sculpture scene marked a break with the tradition of academicist Realism and the ornamentalism of Art Nouveau imbued with feelings of patriotism and national pride typical of the Medulić Association of Croatian Artists, whose main protagonist was sculptor Ivan Meštrović. Thanks to his condensed visual elements, calm line, balanced building of mass, and idealisation and spiritualisation of forms, Kršinić succeeded in assimilating creatively the elements of Czech sculptor Jan Štursa’s art in the way in which Kršinić conceptualised and composed his motifs and French sculptor Aristide Maillol’s synthesis of form, akin to the classics and spirit of the Mediterranean tradition. These characteristics are best seen in a series of Kršinić’s female nudes and figurative compositions. He also sculpted a number of representative monuments and portraits in stone and bronze, terracotta pieces and modelled commemorative medals.
Having elaborated in numerous versions the motif of graceful maiden figures in a standing pose and sensual larger female figures in a sitting or reclining pose, Frano Kršinić created anthological works of art, one of which is his Awakening sculpture from 1928 here presented.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant 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

Dujam Penić, A Female Torso, 1928

Dujam Penić
A Female Torso, 1928

Dujam Penić studied sculpture under Ferroni in Venice and sculptor Ivan Meštrović in Zagreb, as well as in Vienna, Munich, Athens, Paris and New York.
In the period between 1914 and 1920 he lived and worked in New York and then between 1924 and 1932 in Paris, where he was influenced by Auguste Rodin’s works. In 1932 he moved to Split and then in 1936 to Zagreb. At first he modelled realistic portraits, after which he adopted the style of Art Nouveau. He was fascinated by antiquity and the Renaissance on his return to Europe, so he sculpted classical statues in stone and bronze. Modelled in the spirit of Impressionism, his later works include sketches for compositions with a larger number of figures and portraits. During the course of his career, he managed to free himself from the initial influence of Art Nouveau and Meštrović’s stylisations, after which he focused on the ancient ideal of beauty and harmony.
Having shown a special feeling for classical form, Penić sculpted a series of female nudes whose renditions offered inventive solutions. Featuring accents of light on its smooth surfaces of full volume, his finely modelled A Female Torso sculpture from 1928 underscores rather uniquely the beauty of line and the richness of form.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant 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

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