Edo Kovačević, Kožarska Street, 1934

Edo Kovačević
Kožarska Street, 1934
oil, tempera on canvas
53.8 x 42.7 cm

The suburbs and slums of Zagreb are the central motif in the oeuvre of Edo Kovačević, a former member of the Earth Association of Artists. He most often depicts desolate spaces, scenes devoid of people that are staged, metaphorically, in the Renaissance idea of the “ideal city” (op. cit. Ivančević). An interest in the socially neglected world is manifested in urban scenes without monumental historicist palaces and luxurious villas. Even when he paints a street in the city centre (Kožarska Street), he turns his back on representative façades and puts the rear façades, the “obverses” which are not to everyone’s taste, in the foreground. Kovačević approaches the design of the scene in a planimetric manner, colour becomes an important element in image structuring, while the poetics of the surface takes precedence over the formal volume.
After having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in the class of Prof. Vladimir Becić, Edo Kovačević (1906-1993) showed his works for the first time in 1932 with the Earth Association of Artists, as its member, and he continued to exhibit with them until 1935, that is, until they were banned by the police. On the eve of World War II, he took study trips to Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, etc. As an associate of the City Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, he staged the visual display of numerous exhibitions. He is also responsible for setting up the displays of many museum collections; Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb, Museum of Brodsko Posavlje, Museum of Peasant Revolts in Gornja Stubica, Meštrović Atelier, etc. For his work, he was the recipient of the Zagreb City Award, and the “Vladimir Nazor” Lifetime Achievement Award in 1982. In 1986, he became a full member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Text: Zlatko Tot, curator intern © National Museum of Modern Art, 2022
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Foto: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, 2022

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