The Museum of Contemporary Art Zagreb
Collection of Paintings
The Collection of Paintings at MSU contains more than 1200 works by Croatian and international artists, covering a broad span of time since the early 20th century. This exceptionally valuable and diversified collection has been formed gradually, often following the acquisition strategy of the Museum's predecessor, the Contemporary Art Gallery.
A minor part of the Collection consists of artworks created before World War II, which are important for an understanding of the 20th-century history of painting in Croatia as well as of some contemporary phenomena. This is the case with the Munich circle and the Zemlja group, while the most significant paintings from the pre-war period are certainly Pafama by Josip Seissel and Self-Portrait by Marino Tartaglia. A number of portraits by artists such as Nasta Rojc, Zlatko Šulentić, Sava Šumanović, Leo Junek, and Vilko Gecan give a first-person history of painting in the period before 1950.
The Collection also includes works of artists that have made a strong impact on painting in the second half of the 20th century, such as the geometrical abstraction of EXAT 51 or the Informel experiments with the painted surface, such as those of Ivo Gattin, Eugen Feller, and Edo Murtić. The painting segment of the activity of the proto-conceptualist group Gorgona is largely represented by the artworks of Marijan Jevšovar, Josip Vaništa, and Dimitrije Bašičević. In the period between 1961 and 1973, the Museum was one of the focal points of the international movement of the New Tendencies, which is why, in addition to other paintings from that exceptionally fertile period, such as those by Vlado Kristl, Aleksandar Srnec, Julije Knifer and Ivan Picelj, the collection of GSU (Contemporary Art Gallery) also includes the work of Almir Mavignier, Otto Piene, Victor Vasarely, Piero Dorazio, and Piero Manzoni.
In the 1970s, the Contemporary Art Gallery was among the centres of conceptualist art research in this region, which were unified later in that decade under the name of the New Art Practice. At that time, painting was investigating the character of its medium through the procedures of primary and analytic painting, represented in the Collection by Boris Bućan, Boris Demur, Željko Kipke, Marijan Molnar, Radomir Damjan, Gergelj Urkom, and Raša Todosijević. The post-modern currents of the 1980s inserted painting into an apparently more traditional framework, which was, apart from its formal anachronism, characterized by quotations ranging from high to mass-media culture. The notion of New Painting and New Geometry are associated with the generation of painters that includes Edita Schubert, Nina Ivančić, Zvjezdana Fio, Dubravka Rakoci, Damir Sokić, and Duje Jurić. Their research, relying on the experience of conceptualism, was in the early 21st century continued by Ante Jerković and Jelena Perić, who have also found places in the Collection of Paintings, next to the previous, already well established generation.
A special segment within the Collection features artworks by self-taught painters from the former Marginal Art Collection, such as Emerik Feješ, Slavko Kopač, and Drago Trumbetaš; among such artists, one should especially note the oeuvre of Karl Sirovy for its intensity and cultural significance.
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