Street with the Flag / 14 July, c. 1935
oil on canvas, 81.5 x 65 cm
Ivan Rein (Osijek, 1905 – 1943) started his art education by studying architecture in Vienna (1924), but the very next year he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb where in 1929 he obtained a degree in painting in the class of Vladimir Becić. He soon left for Paris, where he spent most of his all too short, creative life. He briefly trained at the Académie André Lhote and opted for the figurative tonal painting. He paints scenes of everyday life in the streets, by the river, in bistros, cafes or in the privacy of his room and studio.
Rein should be singled out as one of the most significant representatives of Croatian painting between the two wars, but the reconstruction of his life and artistic path was greatly hampered by the tragedy of World War II, during which most of the painter’s family perished. Almost all of the works that Rein created in Paris and later in the camps in France in 1940, Kraljevica in 1942 and Rab in 1943 have been lost. Having joined the National Liberation Movement after the capitulation of Italy, Ivan Rein was seriously wounded and died in late 1943.
The 14 July painting is dominated by the French flag flying over the building entrance, while a woman leaning against the window railing on the first floor may be waiting for the Bastille Day parade. The foundation of Rein’s painting is drawing, and he goes on to construct the image with expressive brushstrokes, thin layers of paint and a harmonious palette. The light, colour scheme and structure reveal a developed sense of atmosphere, and the assured painting style is characteristic of the period of Rein’s creative rise.
Text: Marta Radman, trainee curator © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb
Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Photo: Goran Vranić © National Museum of Modern Art, Zagreb