Ljubo Babić, Golgotha, 1917

Ljubo Babić
Golgotha, 1917
oil on wood
78 x 81.2 cm

In several depictions of Golgotha from 1917, Ljubo Babić emphasises the universal theme of general disintegration and chaos with emptiness in the centre of the scene and pronounced light contrasts. Babić expands on the expressionist breakthrough of the composition and colourway in Kraljević’s Golgotha from 1912, and creates a suggestive vision of general doom. The painting is dominated by a sinister supernatural ambience that threatens to swallow the final scene of Christ’s Passion deep in the background.
Ljubo Babić attended secondary art school in Zagreb, and graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He continued his studies in Paris, and he graduated in art history in Zagreb in 1932. As a painter, set and costume designer, graphic artist, art pedagogue and critic, art historian, museologist, writer and editor, Ljubo Babić was an epochal figure in the 20th century Croatian culture and art. He participated in the foundation of the Croatian Spring Salon, the Independent Group of Artists, Group of Four, Group of Three, Group of Croatian Artists and Croatian Artists. As the first curator of the Modern Gallery (today the National Museum of Modern Art), he was the author of its first permanent display shown in 1920 in the Museum of Arts and Crafts. In 1948, he designed the first display of the National Museum of Modern Art’s collection, which represents the complex development of 19th and 20th century Croatian art, in the building in which the museum still operates today.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Pgoto: Gopran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022

Miroslav Kraljević, Golgotha, 1912

Miroslav Kraljević
Golgotha, 1912
oil on canvas: 72.1 x 115.3 cm

In his Golgotha from 1912, Miroslav Kraljević situates the main motif of the Crucifixion deep within the scene, highlighting the contorted body of Christ with just a light accent. The foreground is dominated by the deformed figures of soldiers hunched over a game of dice, and the upright Longinus leaning against a lance. The expressiveness of the composition, the ominously bare ambience and the strong colour symbolism make this one of the seminal paintings in Kraljević’s Parisian oeuvre, but also for a new generation of painters that was just being formed in Zagreb.

Miroslav Kraljević hails from a wealthy noble family in Slavonia, who soon after starting his law studies in Vienna decided to switch and study painting in Munich instead. From 1905 to 1910, Josip Račić, Vladimir Becić and Oskar Herman had also been students at the Academy in Munich in the class of Professor Hugo Habermann. What connects painters of this Munich Circle are primarily their orientations towards European modernity, similar starting points and role models. After having graduated from the Munich Academy, Kraljević returned to Požega in 1910. He painted intensively and after having received excellent reviews he moved to Paris in 1911. In Paris he merged all previous artistic experiences with bold exploration of new ideas and styles, and created a number of excellent portraits, self-portraits, genre scenes and vedute. Not even a year later, seriously illness forced him to return home. Having created an oeuvre of the utmost importance for the development of our modern painting, Kraljević died of tuberculosis in Zagreb in 1913, not even 28 years old

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2022


The exhibition Golgotha opens at the National Museum of Modern Art on 19 April at 7 pm. This case study exhibition, conceived by art historian Zvonko Maković, PhD and organized by the NMMA’s senior curator Lada Bošnjak Velagić, presents different contemporary receptions of Kraljević’s Golgotha from 1912, in the works of the new art generation of artists who defined our visual arts scene during and immediately after World War I (Ljubo Babić, Marijan Trepše, Sava Šumanović).

The exhibition will present the paintings of Golgotha by Miroslav Kraljević, Ljubo Babić and Marijan Trepše from the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, and the interpretation of the same theme by Sava Šimanović, which has been loaned for this very occasion by the National Museum in Smederevska Palanka, Serbia. Bilingual exhibition catalogue with a text by art historian Zvonko Maković, PhD is edited by Lada Bošnjak Velagić, NMMA’s senior curator. The catalogue is designed by Ana Zubić. The exhibition will remain open until 29 May 2022.

Photo: Miroslav Kraljević, Golgotha (detail) , 1912. oil on canvas. 72,1 x 115,3 cm. MG-7084. Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić

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