Lady in White, 1938
oil on canvas
93.5 x 73.5 mm
Slavko Kopač painted his Lady in White shortly after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1937. Expressing his gratitude to his mentor Vladimir Becić and the realistic and post-impressionist tradition in which he was trained, Kopač announces his new sensibility in this poetic portrait through the striking contrast between the prevailing “powdery” impression of the painting, achieved through numerous white-pinkish tones, and the energetic red color in details such as the decoration on the lapel, lips, cheeks, and hair.
Later in France, Slavko Kopač (Vinkovci, 1913 – Paris, 1995) was considered a true visionary and pioneer in the use of non-painterly materials. The artistic expression of one of the most important protagonists of Art Informel and Art Brut initially developed from post-impressionist realism towards Kraljević’s expressionism. It culminated during Kopač’s training in Paris in 1939, where he came into contact with the chromatic facets of Leo Junek. After being compelled to leave France by the war, he briefly taught in Mostar. In 1943, he went to Florence, where he significantly distanced himself from the realistic and academic style. Through more spontaneous and elemental expressions, he created impressionistic visions and watercolors close to Surrealism. He finally returned to Paris in 1948 and soon began collaborating with Jean Dubuffet. For over thirty years, they explored, worked, and collected works of L’Art Brut (raw art). Kopač served as the secretary and curator of the Art Brut collection. He also collaborated with André Breton and exhibited at the surrealist gallery À l'étoile scellée alongside the greats such as Max Ernst, Man Ray, and René Magritte.
Text: Lada Bošnjak Velagić, senior curator of 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