Construction of Residential Buildings for Workers in Zagreb / Construction in the Suburb, 1947
ink wash on paper
510 mm X 675 mm
Karlo Mijić was born in Bileća, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1887. He attended various painting schools and academies in Europe: first in Vienna and Prague, and then Munich from 1906 to 1909, and again in Vienna just before the start of World War I. In the period between the two world wars, he lived in Sarajevo until 1938, and then moved to Zagreb, where he died in 1964.
The immediate aftermath of World War II was a period of reconstruction and construction, both in Yugoslavia and throughout Europe. Mijić’s drawing depicts one such undertaking: the construction of a new settlement on the outskirts of Zagreb. In those years, state-subsidized housing was introduced as a model of providing housing for growing population numbers, which, thanks to the strong development of industrial economy, was increasing year by year.
Mijić shows the new settlement still under construction. The scene is dominated by forms of square surfaces and prisms representing barracks, roofs and buildings. The composition is achieved by the gradation of these elements, the progression from smaller to larger, from surface to body, from foreground, somewhat in disarray – barracks, trucks and trees compressed into a small space – to the background, with a clear arrangement of prismatic forms on the horizon. It is also interesting that Mijić did not depict human figures, although he was happy to draw them in other cases, such as scenes of youth work actions. In this case, it seems, he was more attracted by the crystalline structure of the future settlement, than the actual work required for its construction.
Text: Klaudio Štefančić curator at the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023