Milivoj Uzelac, Allegory of Music, 1922 (detail)

Milivoj Uzelac
Allegory of Music, 1922 (detail)
oil on canvas
209 x 100 cm

The characteristic, upright rectangular format of the painting Allegory of Music was commissioned for the luxurious salon of Robert Deutsch Maceljski (Zagreb, 1884 – Auschwitz, 1943), one of the most influential collectors and patrons on the Zagreb art scene between 1910 and 1939. Its counterpart, the Allegory of Echo, is shown as part of the One World exhibition, on the other side of the frame. The series executed for the newly built house of the Deutsch family included two more allegories, of beauty and labour, which are twice the size of the former. Robert Deutsch Maceljski, a wholesale distributor of wood, also collected works of old masters, icons, sculptures and objects of applied art.
The muscular, nude body of a woman with her back to the observer stands out against the desolate, abstracted landscape constructed with broad brushstrokes and shades of green, brown and blue. The expressionist treatment of colour adds depth to the painting, and bold brushstrokes contribute to the symbolist sentiment, further emphasising the allegory of music. Uzelac creates a contemporary, urban ancient muse who, like Euterpe, gently touches the flute with her lips. Deep reductionism and flatness of the image are typical of Uzelac’s painting in the early 1920s, dominated by the influence of Cubo-Constructivism and formal Expressionism.
Milivoj Uzelac (Mostar, 1897 – Pasto Sobre, Cotignac, 1977) moved to Zagreb in 1912 where he briefly studied printmaking, then painting. In 1915, in order to avoid military conscription, he escaped to Prague where he studied occasionally and worked in Jan Preisler’s painting studio. He moved to Paris in 1923. Despite having actually lived in Croatian very briefly, Uzelac regularly exhibited at home, and left a particularly marked influence on the new generation of Croatian painters between the two world wars.

Text: Marta Radman, 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

Skip to content