Josip Račić, Pont des Arts, 1908

Josip Račić
Pont des Arts, 1908
oil / cardboard
29.1 x 46.5 cm

Oton Iveković was Josip Račić’s (1885–1908) primary school drawing teacher. From 1899 to 1903, he studied lithography in V. Rožakowski lithography workshop in Zagreb, and during 1903 he took painting and drawing classes with Bela Čikoš Sesija and Menci Clement Crnčić. In the spring of 1904 he moved to Vienna, and then to Munich where he attended Anton Ažbe’s school. He created satirical and graphic reproductions. In 1905, he worked in the Richard Bong lithographic institute for reproductions in Berlin. In the autumn of the same year, he enrolled in the drawing school at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich where he studied with Johann and Ludwig Herterich and Hugo von Habermann. His application for a scholarship from the Croatian government was denied. In Munich, he socialized with Vladimir Becić, Miroslav Kraljević and Oskar Herman, and they became known as Die Kroatische Schule (the Croatian School) within the Academy. In 1906, he drew caricatures for the satirical magazine Koprive. He spent the last year of his life, 1908, in Paris, where he created a series of successful works.
The painting Pont des Arts (1908), is one of the most famous vedutas in Croatian painting and one of Račić’s last paintings. That same year, he also painted a series of watercolours with motifs of Parisian vedutas by the Seine, Jardin du Luxembourg, Place d'Etoile, as well as boulevard and café scenes. These works also represent the culmination of Račić’s “modernity” which is manifested in simple reduced compositions, the use of stylized forms and large surfaces of colour with pronounced brushstrokes. They are characterised by a lyrical note devoid of sentimentality, which quiets the depiction of the noisy hustle and bustle of Paris to an intimate atmosphere. The composition of Pont des Arts is distinctive for its dynamism and diagonal penetration of the quay along the riverbank, against the strong horizontal of the bridge and the outline of the city, as well as the summary quality of visual means in greyish-yellow hues.

Text: Ivana Rončević Elezović, museum consellor at the National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb, 2023

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