Miljenko Stančić, Trip to Slovenia, 1966

Miljenko Stančić
Trip to Slovenia, 1966
oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm

Miljenko Stančić (1926 – 1977) was a pioneer and the most prominent painter of post-WWII Surrealism and Fantastic art in Croatia that is based on tradition, precise tone modulation and the legacy of old masters (G. de La Tour, J. Vermeer from Delft, P. de Hoh), as well as the painter of pure perception – that is, Josip Račić. With his exceptional skill and the synthesis of the old and the new, Stančić created a unique style in the manner of the so-called museum, anachronistic painting. His oeuvre between the early 1950s and the late 1970s features personal metamorphoses (vedutas of Varaždin, fantastical transformations of human figures in poetic interiors, erotic contents) and subdued gammas illuminated by “animated lighting and an increasingly virtuosic and melancholy palette” (M. Krleža). He obtained a degree in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1949, and in printmaking in 1951, after having attended T. Krizman’s advanced graphic art school. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts between 1960 and 1977. Stančić’s Trip to Slovenia (1966) is a work that perceives the hallucinatory dreamwork reflected by simulations that always point to something other than what is seen and are, at the same time, close to the experiential inhabiting of the “I-form” and distant from it. The floating dream phantasmagorias, in which children’s bodies defy gravity, by the painter in whose “personal mythology light is synonymous with painting” (I. Zidić), may represent dreamlike memories of childhood (and the artist’s brother). Stančić was a member of the Group of Five, and from the 1960s onwards he also participated at the exhibitions of the Belgian group of artists Fantasmagie.

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

Branko Ružić, The Ark, 1966

Branko Ružić
The Ark, 1966

Branko Ružić graduated in sculpture in 1944 (mentored by Frano Kršinić) and in painting in 1948 (mentored by Marino Tartaglia) from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where he taught from 1961 to 1985.
The sculptural works that Ružić created are both archetypal and contemporary, which earned him a prominent position in contemporary Croatian sculpture. He developed his own sculptural language of concise organic forms, of powerful internal dynamics and of monumentality. Elementary, simple, ancient yet modern, and mostly made of wood, Ružić’s oeuvre consists of refined and simplified forms whose significance is existentialist. As a painter, Ružić also sought to portray the world around us the way he experienced it, the way his inner eye saw it. The form of his paintings is concise, with which he presents a maximum of experience of a referential theme by using a minimum of visual language, often exploring the motifs he already established in his sculptures.
Ružić’s The Ark (Noah’s Ark) represents his vision of fellowship amongst people. By carving in the body of wood on both sides, face to face, he modelled stretched and geometrically cut figures in a round log creating a dynamic sculptural composition. The hollow inner space of the log is a dark immaterial shadow – the spiritual state of the figures facing each other, both closing and opening the space of the sculpture.

Text: Tatijana Gareljić, museum advisor 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

Ivan Sabolić, A Portrait of Ivo Šebalj, 1966

Ivan Sabolić
A Portrait of Ivo Šebalj, 1966
silver-plated bronze

Ivan Sabolić graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1944 (under Professor Frano Kršinić), and specialised in sculpture with sculptor Antun Augustinčić in 1966. He was a full professor and dean of the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, and in 1975 he became the head of the academy’s Master Workshop.
His best works are human figures, nudes and portraits because this traditional domain of figuration was wide, deep and rich enough for Sabolić to explore during his entire career. He modelled sculptures in a wide array of styles ranging from Rodinesque dramaticism of taut surfaces to condensed expression close to Abstraction. In the 1950s he started developing his own style of figuration by synthesising universal themes with local features, observable first and foremost in his female figures, such as his A Female Nude from 1951. The motifs that Sabolić modelled in his later works are more socially engaged, with his expression having become more dynamic thanks to his more expressive treatment of surfaces and the introduction of movement. His monumental sculptures are realistic figurative compositions.
Ivan Sabolić’s most significant works are the portraits he created in the 1960s. His anthological portrait of painter Ivo Šebalj is an example of Sabolić’s masterly skill at highlighting the psychological features of his models by using condensed expression and closed volume.

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

Arsen Roje, Time Drawing, 1966






Time Drawing, 1966

Drawing, ink, coloured ink on paper




In 1970, Robert Altman, an American filmmaker, directed the Oscar-winning film M.A.S.H. which depicts the daily life of American medical personnel in the background of the Korean war. The film poster was designed by Arsen Roje, a native of Split, who in 1966 moved, first to Paris and then New York, and who has, until recently, been virtually unknown in the Croatian art milieu. Prior to his departure, Roje had enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, but quickly clashed with that educational environment. “He did not like the rigidity, academic art, realism, or anything else that was valued in art at that time”, explains his wife today. Roje’s drawings are the first examples of Pop art in Croatia, as well as in Yugoslav art. They abound in popular American cultural references, but he will garner attention and success in the world of film, not so much for his motifs – sports cars, revolvers, women’s lips, popular typography, etc. – but because of how he connects or composes them. This is equally visible in the example we showcase here, as well as the award-winning poster for the movie M.A.S.H., in which Roje connects three motifs, a military helmet, woman’s bare legs and the human fist, in a humanoid figure. On the other hand, in the “Time Drawing” Roje does not try to amalgamate the motifs, but he treats them independently of one another. Their interconnectedness also appears accidental, and it seems as if each of them, in their own way, are trying to hold the attention of the observer. At the very bottom of the scene, Roje wrote placart, a neologism that plays with the meaning of some English and Croatian words. In English, placard means any notice in public space, while plakat in Croatian also means a notice in public space, but specifically a notice that is printed and reproduced on paper. Roje’s neologism could thus in both languages be translated as the art of making posters or the art of graphic design.


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

Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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