Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik

Collection of Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik

The second half of the 20th century in art in Croatia, as everywhere else in the world, was marked by pluralism of styles: surrealism and the simultaneous presence of figuration and abstraction. 
In abstraction, two basic trends can be seen. In the first the emphasis is on subjective expression (Art Informel, Lyrical Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism, Tachism), while the second rationalises expression and constructs an aesthetic object (Geometrical Abstraction, Kinetic Art, Op Art, Minimal Art). 

In the early fifties in Zagreb a new wave of Surrealism or fantasy appeared; it started with the new, post-war generation of painters headed by Miljenko Stančić, in which dreams and reveries, eroticism and the subconscious are merged in a perfection painting reminiscent of the old masters.

What kind of achievements Informel produced on the Croatian and European art scene in the fifties is shown by the works of Ivo Gattin and Eugen Feller as well as the sculptures of Dušan Džamonja.

In the late fifties, we can also find Informel works in the oeuvre of Šime Perić, Ljubo Ivančić and Ferdinand Kulmer, who during the course of his highly creative career systematically also returned to figuration, as the Kulmer pieces of the early eighties show, connected in their contents to allegory and myth.

Ferdinand Kulmer attended a special painting course at Đuro Tiljak’s from 1948 to 1950, and was an assistant at the master workshop of Krsto Hegedušić from 1950 to 1957. From 1957 he was a member of the Mart group, and of the Forum Gallery group from 1969

The Informel style is present in the oeuvre of Šime Perić, Ljubo Ivančić and Ferdinand Kulmer.

Most of the artists practised their abstract expression by the reduction of a real-life original to a fundamental visual and associative impression. This process is particularly visible in the painters Antun Motika, Marino Tartaglia, Marijan Detoni, Oton Postružnik, Ivo Šebalj and Slavko Kopač in the second half of the fifties.

Impressive works of abstract sculpture were created by (among others) Ivan Kožarić, Vojin Bakić, Dušan Džamonja, Branko Ružić and Šime Vulas.

The vitalising principle of play is the main characteristic of his working process.

Ivan Kožarić
Kožarić is one of the most prolific and influential of Croatian sculptors, the author of many public monuments,

Kožarić has always been apt to experiments and sudden changes of language in sculpting and has also tried his hand at drawing, painting and photography.

Produced a series of public monuments in the post-war period. Unlike most public post-war monuments, characterised by emotional gestures and heavy with rhetoric, Bakić’s show his interest in testing out the value of volume and surface, drawing on the experience of great sculptors, such as Auguste Rodin.

In his 37th year, having dealt with painting for some years, Ružić started making sculptures. He did them in various materials (in wood, bronze, marble, terracotta, clay and stone), his expression being affected the medieval sculptural inheritance.

He is characterised by simplicity and monumentality, as well as by the metaphorical charge in his expression. His sculptural oeuvre essentially enriched Croatian visual production in the second half of the 20th century.

In the early sixties there was a breakthrough of geometry into Radovani’s sculpture, and after 1966 he started a cycle of nude figures constructed of conical, spherical and cylindrical elements, and replaced the organic and plastic principle with the principle of construction.

Vanja Radauš eft a powerful mark on sculpture, in a range of genres and techniques including medals, small-scale sculptures in terracotta, plaster and stone, wax and bronze, as well as monumental sculptures.

In his series of sculptures, he opened up vistas previously unknown and is with good justice considered one of the most significant figures in Croatian sculpture of the 20th century.

Edo Murtić is one of the first Croatian painters in whom the use of paint in the picture is almost freed of any connotation with an object and takes on the primary function in the painting.

Edo Murtić is one of the main representatives of Lyrical Abstraction.

Some Croatian painters systematically worked on the border of the figurative and the abstract; they picked out a formal motif that is turned into a sign and that creates the meditative or lyrical reality of the picture. Oton Gliha paints the motif of the dry stone wall, giving it his own interpretation and creating a unique contribution to Croatian landscape painting. In the vast agglomerations of stone on Krk island he creates a detached and abstractified structure of signs expressed through a sonorous combination of colours.

At work in Zagreb from 1950 to 1956 was a group of artists gathered together in the group Exat 51, in which, among others, the painters Ivan Picelj and Aleksandr Srnec and the architect Vjenceslav Richter, all of whom are represented in the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik, worked in fruitful collaboration.
Picelj painted reductive planar and formal compositions that looked back and outwards to the historical models of the avant-garde El Lissitzky and Mondrian, precisely conceptualising thereby his own neo position.

Srnec developed the concept of Geometrical Abstraction and began pioneering research into lumino-kinetics. These men also figured in the New Tendencies of 1961 to 1973, the international art movement that included Kinetic Art and neo-Constructivism, neo-Dado and New Realism the beginnings of which coincided with the crisis in and supersession of Informel.

From 1959 to 1966 Zagreb saw the workings of Gorgona, an informal art group in which, among others, Marijan Jevšovar, Julije Knifer, Josip Vaništa and sculptor Ivan Kožarić were involved.

Gorgona is characterised by the doubt it casts upon the object as final product, a sense of the absurd, black humour, nihilism.

Josip Vaništa

His motifs and expression mark a new sensitivity in Croatian art. He publishes illustrations in the daily and periodical press, is into book design and set design and has won many prizes for art, as well as authoring several books of essays.

Since 1994 he has been a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts and is one of Croatia’s most prominent artists.

What characterises the works of painting of Gorgona is the intention to create anti-paintings, as shown by the example of Julije Knifer, whose entire oeuvre is related a single motif, the meander, which first appeared in his works in 1959/1960. A form of entirely reduced visual expression is reduced to the relation of black and white, and sums up in itself a strict and precise idea, which is privileged over the actual produced form.

Julije Knifer

Spent a lifetime paring painting down to its essence. He claimed to pursue the “escalation of uniformity and monotony” in his paintings, drawings, and outdoor murals, focusing on one endlessly variable geometric form, which he called “the meander.”

A maze-like shape of horizontal and vertical switchbacks, almost always rendered in black and white, this motif was the vehicle through which he explored time and rhythm, and revealed the inevitable differences in any act of repetition.

The New Artistic Practice of 1966 to 1978 shows a change, an establishment of a different and, for the tradition of Modernism, atypical form of action, expression and representation in the world of the fine arts. These are works that are not founded on a completed visual work, rather on the idea of artistic practice.

These are works of processual art, including analytical painting, Arte Povera , Body Art and performance, urban interventions and environmental art and conceptual art, represented in the MoMA Dubrovnik by the works of Braco Dimitrijevic, Goran Trbuljak and Željko Jerman.

The eighties were years that in Croatia as on the world scene were marked by the concept of the New Image, which is represented in the MoMA Dubrovnik by the works of Igor Rončević, filled with fluid, organic forms and sensitive chromatic harmonies, and by the New Sculpture, Anachronism and New Geometry represented here by the works of Duje Jurić.

The Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik was founded in 1945, when it was housed in the Cerva-Pozza Palace in the Pile area. But the building in which this museum institution of modern and contemporary art has been located since 1948 was originally conceived and constructed as the prestigious family mansion of Dubrovnik ship owner Božo Banac.

It was designed by leading Croatian architects Lavoslav Horvat and Harold Bilinić so as to be close in terms of plan and style to the Gothic and Renaissance specimens of Dubrovnik town and country architecture, for example, the Rector’s Palace, the Divona Palace, the Sorgo Villa.

Today the Banac mansion is a listed property. In the terms of a 2005 contract with its founder and owner, the City of Dubrovnik, the Museum of Modern Art was allowed the use of additional and associated premises, the Dulčić, Masle and Pulitika Gallery at Držićeva poljana 1 in Dubrovnik and in 2008 it acquired the use of the Pulitika Studio (Atelier) in Dubrovnik’s Fort St John.

As a cultural institution founded with the intention that it should collect, study and exhibit artistic material of modern and contemporary art, the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik has to date managed to assemble, through gifts and purchases, a valuable collection of 3,000 artworks.

In the collection of modern art, which covers the visual production created in the period from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War II, most represented are artists related in some way to the Dubrovnik region, above all those whose oeuvre has far outstripped regional and indeed national relevance.

In the collection of contemporary art, covering visual art produced since World War II, along with sculpture, painting and prints, there are also collections of photographs, video works and artistic installations.

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