Emanuel Vidović, My Studio, 1938

Emanuel Vidović
My Studio, 1938
oil on canvas,
58 x 70 cm

The painting My Studio represents Emanuel Vidović’s most intimate phase. Vidović did not stop painting even later in life, moreover this is when he discovered a new world of inspiration inside his one-room studio. The more individual and intimate space of the interior took precedence over the vedute of Split, Venice and Chioggia. The bohemian or “creative disorder” that we find in Vidović’s studio paintings is the focus and starting point from which the artist sets out to create a scene. A chest of drawers with the Empire Style clock, the painting of a “Baroque Madonna”, easels, paper flowers are always arranged in such a way as to enhance the impression of spatiality, while each of the elements in the studio is carefully selected and positioned. The horror vacui of sorts, of the artist’s studio provides him with the opportunity to create different compositional and colour versions of one and the same space.
Emanuel Vidović (1870-1953) was born in Split. In 1887, he took the entrance exam at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice where he enrolled to study sculpture. Disappointed with the conservative approach of “old professors” he abandoned his studies and turned instead to the medium of painting and started painting the vedute of Venetian canals. After having left Venice, he moves to Milan where he spent time at the “Famiglia Artistica” society and perfects his painting skills. In 1901, he organised his first exhibition at the foyer of the Split theatre. Vidović became widely known to the Croatian public after the “Jubilee exhibition of the Art Society” in Zagreb in 1905, during which Emperor Franz Joseph I bought one, and Viceroy Pejačević bought two of his paintings. As early as next year, he staged exhibitions in Sophia, London and Milan. After two years living between Milan and Chioggia, he returns to his native Split in 1907, where he would remain for the rest of his life. In 1909, he started working as a professor of drawing at the Crafts School in Split. He painted the port of Split and city streets, as well as Trogir, where he spent every autumn from 1930 onwards. From 1946 onwards, he exhibited his works at all major exhibitions of Croatian art in Zagreb, Ljubljana and Belgrade, while his retrospective exhibition was held in 1952 at the Modern Gallery (today the National Museum of Modern Art) in Zagreb.

Text: Zlatko Tot, trainee curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

Antun Motika, My Studio, 1931

Antun Motika
My Studio, 1931
oil on canvas
54×65 cm

Antun Motika painted his My Studio painting in 1931 during his study stay in Paris. Having absorbed the works of impressionists and post-impressionists, Motika came to the realisation that painting is, like any other art, an expression of the artist’s personal experience. The interior of his studio does not emanate dark and depressing connotations the way interiors do in the work of his contemporaries. On the contrary, Motika was, according to art historian Nina Šepić (1957), amongst the first to have introduced white as a dominant colour to Croatian painting. His compositions exude lightness and lyricism, which is evident in the relationship between his colours, lines and forms. He built his interiors with the help of brushstrokes “thrown” onto the canvas, preferably in watercolour or gouache.
Antun Motika was born in 1902 in Pula. He enrolled in sculpture studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb under Prof. Rudolf Valdec in 1922, but in 1923 he decided to switch to painting. After having graduated in 1927, he continued his studies at Prof. Ljubo Babić’s master classes. In 1929 he started teaching drawing at the Mostar Gymnasium, where he remained until 1940. In parallel with the beginning of his teaching career, in 1930 Motika travelled to Paris for a ten-month study stay. In 1940 he was transferred to Zagreb to teach arts (ceramics, textiles, photography) at the School of Applied Arts and Design, where he remained until his retirement in 1961. In 1954 he started frequenting glass workshops on the Island of Murano near Venice, where he created glass sculptures. He held his first solo exhibition in Zagreb in 1933, after which he was invited to exhibit with The Group of Three. Because of its daring rejection of the dogmatic framework of Socialist Realism, his 1952 Archaic Surrealism exhibition provoked violent reactions with Croatian critics and is today considered to be of special cultural significance. He received the 1970 Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award given yearly by Croatia’s Ministry of Culture, and in 1974 a retrospective exhibition of his work was set up at the National Museum of Modern Art.

Text: Zlatko Tot, intern curator of the National Museum of Modern Art © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Ana Janković
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb

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