A Portrait of Ivo Šebalj, 1966
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