Ferdinand Kulmer, Drawing, 1966

Ferdinand Kulmer
Drawing, 1966
ink lavee on paper

Despite the growing role of New York as a hub of art movements in the 1950s, Paris still held enough sway to change someone’s perspective on art. Although well-informed and educated – having resided in New York in 1939 and becoming acquainted with French modern painting – Kulmer, after visiting Paris in 1955, became fascinated with Tachism, a style of painting later more globally recognised as Abstract Expressionism. Before embracing abstraction, Kulmer painted within a framework of an international, pluralistic art ranging from Post-Impressionism on one side and Cubism on the other. He was particularly drawn to Fauvist painting processes, indicating an interest in reducing the illusion of three-dimensional space and the free use of colour. Therefore, Kulmer focused on colour, surface, and painterly gesture, making the turn to abstract painting after World War II a logical choice. This drawing belongs to a series of drawings on Kulmer’s favourite type of paper (rice paper), characterised by its exceptional absorbency. The “Drawing” thus defines the relationship between chance – the painter has no control over the absorption process – and controlled action (ink dosage, type of gesture, etc.).
Kulmer was born in 1925 in Cap Martin, France. He first attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest (1942-45), and then in Zagreb (1945-48). He also worked on film set and costume design (for example, for Vatroslav Mimica’s film “Anno Domini 1573”). He received the highest national award for artistic work – the Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award – in 1990. He died in Zagreb in 1998.

Text: Klaudio Štefančić, senior 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

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