artists & participants
The Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first retrospective exhibition of the works by Vojin Bakić (1915–1992), one of the most important Croatian abstract sculptors. The aim of the exhibition is to critically analyze and interpret Bakić's work in the context of Croatian and European modernism in the second half of the 20th century. The exhibition will show the emergence process of Bakić's abstraction—from a recognizable motif, to the radical reduction of the form, brought down to an abstract symbol at turbulent times when one had to struggle to materialize one's own vision. The exhibition will display the works that are most important in order to understand Bakić's creative development in regard to the social and political conditions in which he was creating. The display will include sculptures, drawings, sketches, monument models, photo enhancements, documents and film material.
Vojin Bakić was an artist of great creative energy who, during his nearly fifty years of creative work, had produced a large number of works of exceptional artistic quality. At the time of their creation, his works were already considered to be exceptionally innovative and progressive, and were included in major publications on contemporary international and European abstract sculpture. His works were displayed at prestigious contemporary art exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale and Documenta in Kassel, and at numerous exhibitions at which modernist Yugoslav art was presented to the European public. His sculptural monuments can be found in European cities such as Antwerp, Marl, Mainz, Zagreb, and Belgrade.
After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, he was noted in the 1940s for his already mature execution of sculptures in which we can recognize the influences of the European modernist tradition of sculpture (Rodin, Maillol). During a short subsequent period he produced commissioned works for public monuments in the style of socialist realism, but already in the early 1950s, he abandoned these principles and gradually liberated himself from tradition. Through further experiments and the reduction of the superfluous he attained full, compact masses and forms drawn from the organic world, inspired by Hans Arp. By the end of the 1950s, he began cutting, bending and piercing the surface, opening it up to the penetration of space which he treated as the new shaping medium. The envelope, its surface and inner space became the most important visual elements of Bakić's sculptural synthesis.
In the beginning of the 1960s, Bakić became the most prominent figure in abstract expression and optical research; thus he participated at the exhibitions of the New Tendencies movement (in 1961, 1963 and 1973). He used new materials (stainless steel, duralumin) and changed his treatment of the surface from previous cutting and bending to convex concave circles, organically attached one to another. Their high-gloss surfaces mirror the surrounding space, while the sculpture reflects the interplay of fullness and emptiness, the positive and the negative, masses and space. His extraordinarily powerful vision and exceptional creativity caused a decisive turn in the manner of shaping large memorial monuments in the Yugoslavia of that time.
After the changes in Croatia in the early 1990s, the socialist heritage entered the phase of marginalization and neglect and only a small number of contemporary artists still had some interest in the period. This exhibition showcases not only Bakić's artwork but also the works created by the artist looking into his monuments from various positions: from the interpretation of modernist heritage in Marko Lulić's works, our relation to such phenomena and collective memory loss in the works by David Maljković to the critique of our relationship with the monuments to the National Liberation War in Igor Grubić's works.
Curator: Nataša Ivančević, Chief Curator
Collaborators and the authors of the exhibition design: architects Ana Martina Bakić and Vjera Bakić
A Retrospective: Lightbearing Forms