oil on hardboard
50 x 65 cm
unit with frame: 63 x 78 cm
“Landscape” represents one of the three thematic units that Maksimilijan Vanka was preoccupied with during his artistic career. Along with portraits and folklore themes, he paints landscapes bathed in the light and warmth of the summer sun, highlighting regional and ethnographic details. His usage of warm, bright colours, without the admixture of black, connects Vanka with the painting of Van Gogh and the tradition of Flemish painting. Static scenes of untouched nature without people or romantic ruins have a calming effect on the observer, which is especially true of the paintings with motifs from Korčula. In addition to the Flemish influence, we should note the influence of Croatian plein air painters from the early 20th c., such as Mato Celestin Medović, his colour palette and endless landscapes.
Maksimilijan Vanka (1889-1963) was raised in Hrvatsko Zagorje until he was eight years old when he moved to Zagreb. He finished primary and secondary school in Zagreb. From 1908 to 1910, he received his art education at the Provisional College of Arts and Crafts with Bela Čikoš Sesija, and from 1911 to 1915 he continued his education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. From 1920 to 1934, he worked as a drawing teacher at the College of Arts and Crafts, and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb where he became a professor in 1923. He is credited with the introduction of the sanguine technique in our region, that is, the execution of drawing in red chalk. He lived in New York from 1934 to 1941, and in this period, besides the New York skyscrapers, his works were mostly inspired by social themes: beggars and the homeless, harbour bars, street fights, people from the docks; which connects him with the activities of the Zemlja Group from Zagreb. He founded an art colony on the island of Korčula where he spent his summers surrounded by fellow painters. He died in 1963 in Mexico.
Text: Zlatko Tot, curator-trainee 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