Sava Šumanović, A Self-Portrait, 1925

Sava Šumanović
(1896-1942)
A Self-Portrait, 1925
oil on canvas
100x80.6 cm
MG-1964

Thanks to the figure having been placed in the foreground of the composition, Sava Šumanović’s A Self-Portrait painting from 1925 is an example of his approach to Figurative Art. Šumanović balanced the disproportionate relationship between the figure in the foreground and the interior in the background by having graded the view of the sequence of rooms in the depth of the painting. His A Self-Portrait belongs to the “green phase” of his work, which is evident in the grey-blue and green colour palette, which represents a departure from his earlier post-cubist phase.
Sava Šumanović began exhibiting at Croatia’s Spring Salon (1917) already as a student of the College of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb, and had solo exhibitions set up as early as 1918 and 1920. He produced illustrations for the avant-garde magazine Juriš and stage designs for the Croatian National Theatre. Following his first successes in Zagreb, he moved to Paris where he worked at André Lhote’s studio. Upon his return to Zagreb, Šumanović was disappointed with the wider public’s lack of understanding of his art, so in protest he signed his paintings in French. Although Šumanović’s key exhibition of works painted in the style of classicised academic Cubism held in Zagreb in 1921 received good reviews, Šumanović moved back to Paris in 1925. Having gotten mentally ill, in 1930 he moved back to his parents’ home in Šid. He painted a series of cityscape vedutas, children’s portraits, landscapes, and compositions of women bathers and pickers in the spirit of Poetic Realism. He worked diligently until he was executed in World War II in 1942.

Text: Zlatko Tot, curator intern 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

Sava Šumanović, A Sculptor at His Studio, 1921

Sava Šumanović
A Sculptor at His Studio, 1921
oil on canvas
91×74.5 cm
MG-1966

Departing significantly from the art scene in Croatia which drew at the time on the legacy of Miroslav Kraljević and the Munich Circle, and which was orientated towards Expressionism, the post-cubist composition A Sculptor at His Studio from 1921 is a paradigm of Sava Šumanović’s ‘new art’.
Sava Šumanović started exhibiting at Croatia’s Spring Salon already as a student at the High School of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb. He socialised and collaborated with painters Milan Steiner and Bogumil Car, and exhibited his work at solo exhibitions as early as 1918 and 1920. His paintings sold well, and he produced illustrations for poet Antun Branko Šimić’s avant-garde magazine Juriš and set designs for the Croatian National Theatre.

Following his first successes in Zagreb, he moved to Paris where he worked at the studio of painter André Lhote. Upon his return to Zagreb, Šumanović was disappointed with the wider public’s lack of understanding of his art, so in protest he signed his paintings in French. Although Šumanović’s key exhibition of works painted in the style of classicised academic Cubism held in Zagreb in 1921 received good reviews by young critics Antun Branko Šimić and Rastko Petrović, Šumanović moved back to Paris in 1925. Inspired by painter Henri Matisse’s powerful colours, he painted large figural compositions. In 1927, inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s poetry and Théodore Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa, he painted The Drunken Ship, which was exhibited at the Salon of the Independents and chosen for the cover of Le Crapouillot, an important contemporary art magazine. Having gotten mentally ill, in 1930 he moved with his parents to Šid. He painted a series of cityscape vedutas, children’s portraits, landscapes and compositions of women bathers and pickers in the vein of Poetic Realism. He worked diligently until his execution in World War II in 1942.

Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior 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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