Vladimir Kristl, Variables, 1962

Vladimir Kristl
Variables, 1962
wood / paper / wire
115 x 31 cm
Vladimir Kristl (1921 or 1923 – 2004) was a heterogeneous and polyvalent personality, who was active from the Post-Socialist and High Modernism period to Postmodernism. He was a painter, animator, film director and screenwriter, draughtsman, caricaturist, poet, professor and lecturer. In the visual arts field, his work includes paintings and drawings, caricatures and graphic designs, animated, experimental and feature films. Kristl was an intriguing and great artist of provocation (I. Zidić) who gained a cult following. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949, and was one of the co-founding members and painters of the EXAT-51 group of painters and architects (1951-1956) and exhibited at the group’s first public exhibition of abstract painting (Kristl, Picelj, Rašica, Srnec) held at the Croatian Architects Association in 1953. During the early 1950s he was one of the pioneers of Abstract art in Croatia and the most orthodox in the pursuit of geometric abstraction. In the late 1950s, he neared the concept of the materiality of painting as it was advocated by Art Informel. In 1959 he started painting a black and white series of positives and negatives, in which paintings became monochrome screens and which were painted in only achromatic white, for example. The painting Variation (1958) is divided into three ascetic achromatic sections and features a deliberate uncertainty of execution (J. Denegri). The painting’s irregular grid pattern heralds his Variables series from the early 1960s. This painting (Variables, 1962), broadly speaking a painting-object, indicates a spatial dynamic vertical and counterposed horizontal, in which he uses the raster method and cheap (non)painting materials (wire, thread, paper, wood), veering towards pure geometry. The Variants series, also from the early 1960s, follows along the same lines. He authored two anthological films of the Zagreb School of Animation: The Piece of Shagreen Leather (1960) and Don Quixote (1961), in which the characters are reduced to ideograms and he also experimented with animation. Because of social pressure and because he felt misunderstood by other members of the Zagreb School of Animation, he moved to what was then West Germany, where he became a protagonist of crucial events in German cinematography.

Text: Željko Marciuš, 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

Dušan Džamonja, Metal Sculpture 22, 1962

Dušan Džamonja
(1928 – 2009)
Metal Sculpture 22, 1962
iron nails
195 x 116 x 22 cm

This charismatic sculptor occupies a prominent place in contemporary Croatian visual arts, and the artistic value of his original sculptures is universal. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1951. His first noteworthy success came when he showed his works at the Venice Biennale in 1960, which opened the doors of international art institutions for him.
The prolific sculptural oeuvre of Dušan Džamonja has an experimental and avant-garde meaning because he started applying new sculptural material (iron, glass, wire, black concrete) and non-classical sculptural treatment (forging, welding or joining different materials), and he achieved a harmonious relationship between sculptural form and symbolic content. He designed free spatial structures of outstanding geometric purity and organic vitality, such as the sculptures of compact or dissected spheres. He also created the so-called iron tapestries or free sculptures that had suggestive effects. In his monumental works he formed and designed abstract sculptures and free volumes that have universal and timeless meaning.
Despite the non-figurative modelling, the abstract Metal Sculpture has a noticeable anthropomorphic origin. An independent symbolic form is imposed with its own rhythmic structure and the serial adding of the basic design element, that is, by welding iron nails.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Antun Motika, Bull, 1962

Antun Motika
(1902 – 1992)
Bull, 1962
stained crystal glass
39 x 48 x 18cm

Antun Motika is one of the most important Croatian artists of the 20th century whose painting had a considerable impact in the period between the two world wars. He developed his own visual poetics after returning from his study trip in Paris (1930 – 1931), a kind of variant of post-Impressionism, which was manifested in the free application of thin layers of paint, a discreet, almost ornamental drawing and a frequent low angle perspective. Even though he started studying sculpture under R. Valdec, Motika completed his painting studies in 1926, under legendary professors of the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts, M. Vanka, V. Becić, T. Krizman and Lj. Babić. His works from the time he spent in Mostar are a particular standout in his oeuvre, with their increasingly bright palette and a lyrical atmosphere of sorts. In early 1940, he initiated systematic research of different materials in the studio. In 1952, he created a series of drawings titled Archaic Surrealism, in which he advocated for complete freedom of artistic expression. During the 1950s and 1960s, he made book illustrations, through which he presented his experiences of music and realised his own variant of visual poetry. He also started modelling glass sculptures in collaboration with the glass factory in Rogaška Slatina and the glass workshops in Murano, uniting the skill of modelling volume and the obsession with pure light, its refraction and lumino-kinetic effects with the application of the pictorial faktura in the form of colouristic interventions.
Motika has participated in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, and has exhibited twice at the Venice Biennale. In 1975, he became a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts.
The museum sculpture Bull from 1962 was made in Murano, and with its fragile form of transparent crystal glass and only a few colour interventions (horns and spots on the upper body), it represents a witty paradox of the traditional depiction of an animal that is considered the embodiment of strength.

Text: Dajana Vlaisavljević, 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

Stevan Luketić, Currents, 1962

Stevan Luketić
(1925 – 2002)
Currents, 1962
iron, 65 x 34 x 30 cm

Stevan Luketić is a Croatian sculptor of Montenegrin origin, who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1955 (F. Kršinić) and worked as an associate of sculptor V. Bakić from 1952 to 1958. Since 1987, he worked as a professor at the Faculty of Cultural Studies in Cetinje, which became the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1988.
Initially, he created figural sculptures with reduced details. In the 1960s, with the series made from wrought iron and iron plates, he moved away from objective reality and was one of the most prominent representatives of Art Informel poetics in Croatian sculpture. Luketić’s geometry, coordination of elements and overall understanding of sculpture is not characterised by serenity, but by ferocity and dynamism, even when the sculpture is made of reflective metals that radiate elegance and harmony. In the 1990s, he created a series of sculptures from olive roots, which he used in their original form and accented with paint. Structures are also the main motif of his drawings, which he made in mixed media. He confidently created public sculptures that correspond with his sculptural oeuvre based on dynamic rhythm and elaborate surfaces.
The structure and the strong general impression of the sculpture Currents are a good example of Luketić’s expressive and concise forms.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum consultant © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

Milena Lah, A Composition, 1962

Milena Lah
A Composition, 1962

Milena Lah graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949 and worked as an associate at sculptor Vanja Radauš’s master workshop until 1950. Between 1951 and 1955 she specialised in sculpture during her stays in Rome, Florence, Milan and Paris. She participated in many prestigious international sculpture symposia as an established artist.

Lah’s early works are realist sculptures, after which she aspired to synthesise form and the symbolic expressiveness of material. Inspired by Croatian art and literature, in her oeuvre she looked to combine traditional forms with contemporary sculptural ideas. She paid special attention to female and children’s figures. In her later series, centring mostly on mythological themes, she combined geometric and figural elements. Her sculptures installed in public space are a “titanic segment of her oeuvre”, particularly the many sculptures executed in heavy stone blocks in which she modelled intangible universal states and phenomena with ease and extraordinary power. Having used almost all sculpture techniques and materials, she created a huge oeuvre which is – thanks to the purity of elementary forms, metaphors, associations and interactivity – rightly considered to be one of the most genuine oeuvres in the history of Croatian sculpture.

Milena Lah’s A Composition sculpture from 1962 is an associative female torso reduced to a refined archetypal monolithic form. Within its polished stone surface, it features an accentuated opening and circular incisions representing breasts as basic female attributes.

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

Skip to content