Petar Dobrović, Suburb N., 1914

Petar Dobrović
Suburb N., 1914
oil on canvas, 73 x 97.8 cm

The family of Petar Dobrović (1890–1942) was originally from Slavonia, more precisely Daruvar, but they relocated to Hungary. From 1909 to 1911, Dobrović studied painting in Budapest, where he staged the first public showing of his works at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1911. In his native Pécs, he socialised with writer Miroslav Krleža. He spent the period from 1912 to 1914 in Paris, when he created a series of drawings influenced by Cézanne and Cubism. After returning from Paris, he published prints in a series of prestigious Hungarian magazines and newspapers, such as: Tett, Ma, and Nvugat. In 1919, Dobrović staged solo exhibitions in Zagreb and Novi Sad, and he also showed his work in Paris at the Exhibition of Yugoslav Artists. He stayed in the French capital again from 1926 to 1930. There, he visited exhibitions and wrote critiques for Parisian and German newspapers. Between 1923 and 1925, Dobrović taught at the Art School in Belgrade, and from 1937, he worked as a professor at the Belgrade Academy, which he also helped establish. In Belgrade, he also participated in the founding of the Form (Oblik in Croatian) Art Group in 1926, which, in line with current European trends, promoted a return to realism and the plastic values of painting. His summers spent on the island of Hvar and in Dubrovnik, where he created a series of landscapes and portraits in oil and watercolour techniques are noteworthy. Dobrović’s painting was particularly marked by the colouristic realism of the 1930s.
While Anka Krizmanić’s industrial veduta in the painting The Nova Ves Working-Class Suburb, 1912 is indicated in the lower third of the picture, with the background landscape occupying the other two thirds, Dobrović approaches the same theme by almost entirely filling the surface of the painting with the depiction of the city. The presence of nature is only suggested by a triangular fragment of bluish sky squeezed against the upper edge of the painting. Nevertheless, the impression in both paintings is similar and emphasises the harshness of the expansion of the modern industrial city at the expense of nature, possessing a certain social significance. Although in a different register of warm reddish-orange and brown tones, similar to that of Krizmanić, Dobrović’s palette is muted, and the structure of the painting is marked by the pronounced geometry of architectural cubes.

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

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