Jagoda Buić, From the Sun, 1963

Jagoda Buić
From the Sun, 1963
horizontal weaving, wool
285 x 104 cm

With its geometric forms positioned one under the other, the tapestry titled From the Sun (1963), harmoniously follows the vertically arranged composition predetermined by its very dimensions. With various shades of warm red, the artist conveys a sense of tranquillity, while the rich textures reveal the dexterity of her hand.
Jagoda Buić (1930 – 2022) was born in Split. She is a prominent Croatian artist best known for her monumental tapestries. The facts that she was educated at the Academy of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb, the Department of Art History at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, that she studied costume and set design in Venice and film set design in Rome, are certainly telling of her ambition. After having returned from her studies, she worked as a costume and set designer in the theatres in Zagreb, Split and Osijek, as well as on film, the most famous of which are The Year Long Road from 1958 and The Emperor’s New Clothes from 1961. But as of 1962, tapestry became her primary medium of artistic expression. She has shown her works at numerous exhibitions of tapestries in Amsterdam, Madrid and New York, and her works are part of prestigious collections such as the MoMA in New York. In 2010, a retrospective exhibition of her work was organized in the Museum of Arts and Crafts, and in 2019 an exhibition at the “Josip Račić” Gallery – NMMU.

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

Valerije Michieli, Target, 1963

Valerije Michieli
(1922 – 1981)
Target, 1963
180 x 205 x 110 cm

Valerije Michieli graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949 (F. Kršinić), where he worked as a professor between 1962 and 1981. He worked as an associate at V. Radauš’s (1949 –1951) and F. Kršinić’s Master Workshops (1951 –1955).
He realised the concept of full volume in his portraits, after which he explored the possibilities of eroded forms. As an avant-garde sculptor, he worked on elongated expressionist figures close to the Gothic style and related currents in modern sculpture (A. Giacometti). His series of contorted bodies express human drama, particularly those sculptures with themes related to World War II. Executed in a sculptural and painterly manner, the animals in his series of dogs and horses range from extremely expressionist to non-figurative. Michieli created the memorial monuments in Pučišća and Split, and the figure of A Woman from Brač in the town of Bol.
Inspired by the relief characteristics of furrowed, cracked, corroded, jagged and time-worn limestone karst of the Island of Brač, Michieli sculpted a series of bronze sculptures of people and animals, under the common title of karren, featuring pronounced naturalistic deformations. His work is characterised by the heroic expressive male figure, such as in the work Target, anthropomorphised by a distorted crouching male nude with elongated widespread limbs; with extremely thin knobbly arms and oversized fists, and a body of reptilian epidermis that is apocalyptically contracted at the core and on the surface in a violent existentialist scream.

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

Ivan Lesiak, An Ascetic, 1963

Ivan Lesiak
An Ascetic, 1963
metal / embossing (relief)
80 x 164

Zagreb student Ivan Lesiak (1929 – 2008) is particularly known for his figurative reliefs in metal, made in the spirit of poetic Symbolism, Surrealism and fantasy and a direct and coarse expressive style. A significant moment in his artistic biography is his membership in the Biafra Group (1970 – 1978), which problematised the issues of contemporary humanism in its cultural and social context, but also the relationship with contemporary visual art trends, especially Abstract art, advocating engagement and expressive figuration marked by naturalism and distortions. The group’s usual strategy was to organise exhibitions and actions in the streets and public spaces in Croatia and abroad. Lesiak’s drawings and print sheets, critically intoned towards the consumer society and contemporary civilisation, are executed in keeping with this strategy.
Lesiak’s An Ascetic from 1963, created in the period preceding Biafra, is an example of the refined minimalism of the artist’s poetic Symbolism. With carefully selected artistic means and a refined and emphatically symmetrical, static composition, Lesiak conveys a powerful allegory of an upright ascetic male figure, a protagonist in a destitute, contemplative environment.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, 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

Oskar Herman, A Landscape with Three Trees, 1963

Oskar Herman (1886-1974)
A Landscape with Three Trees, 1963
oil on canvas
85×135 cm

Oskar Herman (1886-1974) was the least prominent, yet the longest-standing member of the Munich Circle – one of the legendary beginnings of Modernism in Croatia. In Munich he first attended painter Anton Ažbe’s school of painting (1904) and then the Academy of Fine Arts under Prof. Hugo von Habermann (until 1910). Hans von Marées’s colour Symbolism exerted a decisive influence on Herman’s painting – Herman copied Hans von Marées, but also adapted the staticity of his compositions, the separateness of his figures, the monumentality of his forms and the horizontal partition of his paintings. In other words, Herman transformed early on his initial Realism into archaic Symbolism. After World War I, he synthesised expressionist Colourism, which – in correlation with historical Expressionism – heralded future (Neo-)Expressionism.
After the end of WWI, Herman returned to Munich, where he exhibited at both solo and group exhibitions of Munich’s new Art Nouveau. When Nazism escalated in 1933, he returned to Zagreb, where he organised a solo exhibition in the Art Pavilion. In the period between 1942 and 1944, he was interned in the Ferramonti di Tarsia internment camp in the south of Italy, after which he returned to Croatia to join the Partisan Movement. After World War II, he was a curator at the National Museum of Modern Art (1945-1949). In painting, he gradually developed an independent variant of colour Expressionism featuring motifs of landscapes, figures, and figural and dramatic scenes, which he worked on for the rest of his life. Herman’s A Landscape with Three Trees painting from 1963 is a symbolist and expressionist landscape painted by using colourist perspective, which is complemented by a palette of glowing and cold colours.
Oskar Herman was the recipient of the 1965 Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award given yearly by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture.

Text: Željko Marciuš, 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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