Frano Šimunović, Procession, 1935.

Frano Šimunović
Procession, 1935.
22.5 x 15 cm

This small watercolour stands at the very beginning of Šimunović’s artistic career. Šimunović was born in 1908 in the region of Dalmatinska Zagora (Dalmatian Hinterland), and he obtained a degree in painting in 1935. Before he graduated, he received a scholarship to study in Spain where he visited museums, copied the works of Goya and Velasquez and witnessed the start of the Spanish Civil War. Prior to devoting himself entirely to one motif (Dalmatian karst) and one pictorial problem (landscape) after World War II, the art critics say that Šimunović spent a lot of time wandering, searching for his authentic expression. And indeed, in the first ten years of his career, we can trace influences of Goya’s painting in Šimunović’s works, especially the drawings created during his stay in Spain, the influence of the Earth Group, but also echoes of Expressionism.
Šimunović will represent women dressed in folk costumes – in art jargon, women draped in fabric that gives the figure formal and abstract values – until the 1950s. During World War II, he will use this motif to convey the horrors of war, referring especially to the suffering of the civilian population. Either way, at the very beginning of his artistic career, Šimunović obviously knew the direction he was taking, although perhaps unconsciously. Fifteen years later, in fact, what he tried to depict by painting women in folk costumes he will now convey with abstract landscapes of the Dalmatian karst – life in the Dalmatian Hinterland.

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

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