Antun Augustinčić, Girl Asleep (Rest), 1948

Antun Augustinčić
(1900 – 1979)
Girl Asleep (Rest), 1948
carving, marble
88 x 50 x 60.5 cm

Alongside Ivan Meštrović and Frano Kršinić, Antun Augustinčić is the most prominent Croatian sculptor of the 20th century. In 1918, he started studying sculpture at the Advanced School of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb under Rudolf Valdec and Robert Frangeš, and in 1922, when it became the Royal Academy of Arts and Crafts, he continued his studies under Ivan Meštrović. After his graduation in 1924, as a French government scholarship holder, he moved to Paris where he studied at the École des Arts Décoratifs and Académie des Beaux-Arts in the class of J. A. Injalbert. In 1925, he exhibited his works at the Salon des artistes français, then in 1926 at the Salon des Indépendants. He was one of the founders of the socially engaged art group Earth (1929 - 1935), and worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb since 1946.
After the 1930s, the artist’s realistic free agitated modelling style and original artistic idea, featuring suggestive dramatic movements and expressivity, are visible in his figurative and equestrian compositions, which he successfully applied to numerous public monuments realised around the world.
Augustinčić found respite from public monuments in an impressive gallery of subjective sculptures, creating figures of women and female nudes, connecting objective beauty and individual sculptural projection. The skilfully carved Girl Asleep is depicted as a clothed, barefoot young woman in a seated position with her arms around her knees, her head resting on her left shoulder. The lyrical figure in a lovely relaxed pose is sculpted with an impressively conveyed unblemished tenderness of youth.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant 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

Albert Kinert, A Member of the Youth Organisation, 1948

Albert Kinert
A Member of the Youth Organisation, 1948
oil on canvas, 30 x 20 cm

Albert Kinert (1919 – 1987) had a multifaceted artistic personality. He was a painter, graphic artist, illustrator, comic book author and sculptor. Kinert’s unity of diversity, conditioned by his artistic existence, banished every other interest from his life and Kinert’s biography is therefore nothing more than his artistic oeuvre (J. Bučan). This also applies to the artist’s attitude towards his own socio-cultural milieu, its artistic tradition and fantastic artistic worlds. Kinert’s entire oeuvre is based on synchronicities between the media and the concrete (figurative) and abstract expression. Close to a kind of Post-Impressionism, his style was also inspired by Japanese prints, prehistoric painting and Archaic Greek art. The artist developed his painting form into unconventional visual complexes made from the lyrically intoned coloured dots. In the 1960s, he moved away from narration and expressed himself in an abstract manner, which gradually led to the harmonisation of the organically abstract and concrete signs (Wrath – In the Tavern, 1979, The Damned in His Paradise, 1980). He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1946 (T. Krizman), where he worked as an assistant professor since 1961, then a full professor, and since 1971 as an associate professor, as well as the head of the special graphic arts department. He produced numerous print and watercolour portfolios and received many awards for his work. In 1957, he participated in the exhibition of the Mart Group, and he was one of the founders of the Zagreb 58 Group. His painting A Member of the Youth Organisation (1948) is an unconventional work, belonging to the poetics of Socialist Realism because it represents a hidden figure-portrait, and the only references to the historical period are the title, the figure’s pose and attributes of clothing. Standouts among his many exhibitions are the retrospectives at the Modern Gallery (today the NMMU) in 1985 (D. Schneider) and 2018 (I. Körbler), which valorised and revalued Kinert’s place in Modern art in Croatia.

Text: Željko Marciuš, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

Božidar Rašica Zagreb, Bell Towers, 1948

Božidar Rašica
Zagreb, Bell Towers, 1948
Gouache on paper

It is not at all unusual for an architecture graduate to be interested in buildings and the city in general, even one who would rather paint than deal with architectural design, but it is quite unusual for the representation of rooftops in Zagreb, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, to look quite like this. In fact, in the first post-war years, the socialist system expected art to realistically portray the military victory and the reconstruction of the destroyed country, that is, to spread confidence in the government and foster belief in a better tomorrow. This artistic style was a global phenomenon. It appeared in all socialist countries, and it was especially widespread in the Soviet Union, which Yugoslavia severed all ties with in 1948 – precisely at the time this painting was created, choosing to follow its own path. In art history, this year is usually considered as the beginning of the end of Social Realism, so Rašica’s painting is more than a representation of Zagreb: it marks a clear turn by some of the artists, primarily in Zagreb, towards the basic tenets of modernist painting, culminating in the founding of Exat 51 Group, of which Rašica was a member.

And indeed, not only is Rašica’s painting far removed from Social Realism, it is in some ways foreign to realism in general. Any similarity to rooftops is overpowered by geometrization of the scene, and instead of entire buildings that are perspectivally organised in space, we observe a series of almost ornamentally arranged triangles and squares, the flatness of which is further emphasised with a grid of straight lines. Thus, immediately after the war, the historical part of Zagreb – the view from Gradec to Kaptol – was given a completely modern treatment.

Božidar Rašica was born in 1912 in Ljubljana. He studied architecture in Warsaw, Rome and Belgrade, and graduated in 1942 in Zagreb. In addition to architecture, he also worked as an urban planner, set designer and painter. He received the Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award in 1979 and died in 1992 in Zagreb.

Texst: Klaudio Štefančić, curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © 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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