Ivan Kožarić: A Retrospective – One of 100 Possible Ones


Ivan Kožarić: A Retrospective – One of 100 Possible Ones

01.07.2021 - 07.11.2021 / MSU, 2. i 3. kat

This retrospective exhibition, to mark the centenary of the birth of Ivan Kožarić (Petrinja, 10 June 1921 – Zagreb, 15 November 2020), is just one out of many possible ways to present the work of a completely uncharacteristic and thus exceptional artistic personality of recent Croatian and European art. From the very beginning of his journey in art he rejected the petrified art language of any recognized version of style and tirelessly sought for the best way to materialise his artistic thought – his idea. “If a work has an idea,” he said, “it has everything, it has life.” In this spirit, he took a stance of disagreeing – not only with the conventions of the profession or with any form of dogmatism – but also with himself, deciding just as firmly to start from scratch every day.

Instead of a fixed, forever completed aesthetic object, he supported the open work, the principle of processuality, which came to expression as an articulated artistic stand which he materialised in numerous processes, also including radical gestures of denying and annulling his own past in the name of what was yet to come. By reversing the system of values through the alchemy of transforming “rubbish into gold”, using strategies of recycling, appropriation, placing works in new constellations… Ivan Kožarić continuously kept alive issues about the nature and boundaries of art as something that is “ever elusive” and is “always something else”.

The oeuvre of this artist, who managed to be anachronistic and completely contemporary almost in parallel, sometimes even anticipating trends in art that were yet to happen, can be accurately summarized in the words “anarchical discontinuity”. This retrospective does not underline it by creating a new discontinuity, by reiterating what had taken place quite naturally and has been recognised as the main substance of Atelijer Kožarić – the place where it all began. The concept of this retrospective moves in the opposite direction, it is an attempt to present his work through the continuity of discontinuities – by establishing as precisely as possible the sequence of sudden changes that took place on that artistic path almost seventy years long.


Ivan Kožarić was born in Petrinja in 1921, where he spent his childhood until 1931, when he moved with his family to Zagreb. He enrolled in sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1943, graduating in 1947 under Professors Frano Kršinić and Vanja Radauš, and in 1949 he completed the Masterclass of Professor Antun Augustinčić. He began to exhibit in 1953. As a scholarship holder of the Moša Pijade Foundation, he resided in Paris in 1959/1960. Despite the opportunity to pursue a European career in Paris, he returned to Zagreb and joined the neo-avant-garde Gorgona Group (1959 – 1966). He exhibited in about one hundred solo and about two hundred group exhibitions at home and abroad, including the Venice Biennale (1976), Biennale of Sao Paulo (1979), Muséed’Art Moderne in Paris (2002), Documenta in Kassel (2002) and Paris Triennial (2012). A large retrospective exhibition was organized for him at the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2013. He is the author of numerous public sculptures in Zagreb, Sisak, Rijeka, Portorož, Maribor, Aranđelovac, Bochum and Issy les Moulineaux near Paris. He was the president of the Croatian Society of Fine Artists from 1992 to 1996. He was a full member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts from 1997, and from 1997 to 2011 he was the head of the Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He won many awards, including the City of Zagreb Award (1960) and the Vladimir Nazor Lifetime Achievement Award (1997).

Kožarić’s works can be found in numerous private and museum collections in the country and around the world, including MoMA in New York, Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, and M HKA in Antwerp.

In 2007, the City of Zagreb purchased the complete Kožarić’s Studio with more than 6,000 works and other objects and entrusted it to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb for permanent storage.



Exhibition partner: Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Authors of the exhibition concept and layout: Vladimir Čajkovac and Radmila Iva Janković

Exhibition curator: Radmila Iva Janković

Collaborators: Tihana Boban and Filip Turković-Krnjak (Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts)

Assistant curator: Dora Peternel

Visual identity: Tom Jura Kaćunić, Ivana Vučić (Hamper studio)

Translation: Nikolina Jovanović

Educational program: Daniela Bilopavlović Bedenik, Renata Filčić, Ana Škegro

Conservation and restoration: Ivana Drmić, Kristina Matković, Mirta Pavić and Alan Vlahov

Technical realization of the exhibition: Dalibor Cicvara, Davor Filipčić, Aleksandar Milošević, Ivan Tudek, Zdenko Zavalić, Filip Zima and Josip Halić with Dražen Sokolić (Glyptotheque of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts)


The realization of the exhibition was made possible by the City of Zagreb, the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, and the Zagreb Tourist Board.