A Newsboy, circa 1929
oil on canvas
Omer Mujadžić enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb when he was only fifteen. After having graduated, he continued his studies in Paris. Whilst in Paris, the young Mujadžić was influenced by André Lhote’s Post-Cubism and Picasso’s return to Figurative Art, and more heavily by his visits to the Louvre and the studies of such old masters as El Greco and Tintoretto. By having encapsulated contemporary French modernist trends, the tradition of Ivan Meštrović and Jozo Kljaković’s sculptural expression, including Ljubo Babić’s teaching on the need to condense the realist expression of the time, Mujadžić returned to the Croatian scene with works in the spirit of Neoclassicism and Magic Realism. In 1929 he participated in the founding of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists, with whom he exhibited until 1930. For Mujadžić, his affiliation with the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists implied not only social engagement, but also orientation towards German New Objectivity, in whose spirit he painted several scenes from sports arenas and suggestive scenes from the street featuring a great sense of reality and concrete life situations.
Mujadžić froze the city’s gloomy everyday life in a photographically ‘cut off’ shot of his A Newsboy. The newsboy is caught up in his thoughts and seems trapped in front of a rough dark brick wall, a motif so typical of the Zemlja (Earth) group of artists.
During the 1930s, Mujadžić lightened his palette and softened his forms in the spirit of Colourist and Poetic Realism. During World War II, he painted mostly intimist motifs in refined hues. He painted nudes, portraits, landscapes, still lifes and sacral compositions in oil and pastel, and also did drawings and illustrations. He taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb between 1931 and 1973, and mentored such masters as Oton Gliha, Edo Murtić, Ferdinand Kulmer and others.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator 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