Sunday, May 18, 2014

Miroslav Kraljević, the "Artist of the Soul" at Ca' Pesaro, Venice International Gallery of Modern Art

Self-portrait with Dog by Miroslav Kraljević (1910)
(Venice, Italy) Croatian artist Miroslav Kraljević was called "The Artist of the Soul." Perhaps it was because he lived on the edge of death, struggling with tuberculous, and died so young, at the age of 27, that he developed a profound vision that allowed him to capture the essence of things. Through June 15th over at Ca' Pesaro, Venice's International Gallery of Modern Art, this small jewel of an exhibition, Un autoritratto di Miroslav Kraljevic, modernista croato, is on display.

Ziva Kraus
Miroslav Kraljević's arrival at Ca' Pesaro is considered to be the cultural event of the year in Croatia, and many dignitaries were on hand during the opening ceremony on April 18th. Thanks to a project by Živa Kraus, the prominent Croatian artist and owner of the Ikona Gallery in the Ghetto here in Venice, Miroslav Kraljević will finally get the recognition he deserves on the European stage.

Kraljević was born on December 14, 1885 in Gospić, Croatia, a small town that would become notorious a century later for the Gospić Massacre, when 100-120 Serbian civilians were killed during the Croatian War of Independence in 1991. Kraljević grew up in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, then finished high school back in Gospić.

Kraljević moved to Vienna in 1904 to study law as well as art, but like all great artists, after two years he dropped out of the legal world and moved firmly into the World of Art. At the beginning of the last century, the World of Art for a young Croatian was Vienna and Munich, so in 1906, Kraljević went to Munich, considered an important hub of the European art scene, and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Art, studying under Hugo von Habermann, another former law student who had turned to the arts. There Kraljević met fellow Croatians Joseph Račić, Vladimir Becić and Oscar Herman, who would later be dubbed the "Munich Circle." After his studies, he moved back to Croatia in 1910 and stayed with his family, who had moved to Požega.

Three Graces by Miroslav Kraljevic (1911)
 In 1911, Kraljević did something extraordinary that would earn him the designation, "the First Croatian Modernist Painter" -- he received a state grant to study in Paris, and off to Gay Paree he went, where a cultural revolution was under way. It is this period on which A Self-Portrait by Miroslav Kraljević, Croatian Modernist focuses, when Kraljevic became a flâneur, "someone who saunters around the city observing society" and painted what he saw -- as his tuberculosis consumed him. He was a dying man living at full speed in Paris during one of the most important times in the story of art, and he captured the souls of those around him, including his own. The twenty works on display at Ca' Pesaro are full of dark humor and insight -- street and cafe scenes, erotic sketches, theater and dance -- as well as his haunting self-portrait, smoking a pipe. 


Self-portrait with Pipe by Miroslav Kraljevic (1912)
Kraljević returned to Croatia after a year in Paris, staying again with his family. In the autumn of 1912, he went to Zagreb, where he organized his first solo exhibition, rented a studio, and painted. But his tuberculosis was unrelenting, and he died in Zagreb on April 16, 1913 at age 27. He is buried in the family grave in Požega.

Bonvivant by Miroslav Kraljevic (1912)
After his death, modern Croatian art would undergo a complex transformation, the foundations laid by the brilliant young Miroslav Kraljević, The Artist of the Soul.

Un autoritratto di Miroslav Kraljević, modernista croato
A Self-Portrait by Miroslav Kraljević, Croatian Modernist

Curated by Gabriella Belli, Biserka Rauter Plančić e Cristiano Sant
In collaboration with Moderna Galerija di Zagabria
Supported by Privredna Banka Zagreb

Ca' Pesaro International Gallery of Modern Art
THROUGH JUNE 15, 2014

Click for more information

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Croatian artist Miroslav Kraljević was called "The Artist of the Soul." Perhaps because he lived on the edge of death, struggling with tuberculous, and died so young, at age 27, he developed a profound vision that allowed him to capture the essence of things.

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