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Collection of Prints

The prints collection has been growing through purchases and donations from a very foundation of the Museum in 1948, at which occasion some of the oldest prints dating from the 19th century arrived from the requisitioned Tuchtan collection. According to origins, collection is divided into two smaller units: Collection of Prints by Croatian authors and Collection of Prints by Foreign Authors.

Collection of Croatian authors comprises 197 graphic prints and 22 graphic maps by 63 authors. The collected materials enable a chronologic survey of Croatian graphics development, although still lacking some of the names and works that would complete it. sufficiently. However, the collection includes some special, entirely separate graphic phenomena and authors.

The oldest prints in whole of the MMCA Collection  of Prints go back to the last quarter of the 19th century. However, the actual authors do not represent some especially valuable names or phenomena, neither regarding innovations nor the technical quality. A shift is represented by prints of Croatian graphic doyen by whose merit graphic art started to develop in Croatia, namely by painter Menci Clement Crnčić and his follower Tomislav Krizman.

Early 20th century witnesses also the rise of symbolism, which is represented within a collection with only one print by Mirko Rački, while prints by Bela Csikos Sessie and Medulić group (active from 1908-1916) are missing. Representative of more classic expression such as Miljenko Gjurić, Ljubo Babić or Vjera Bojničić are presented parallely with protagonists of Modernism such as Miroslav Kraljević and Milan Steiner who - from the European centres - brought new elements of metropolitan motives into the graphics. 

After the WWI, as well as in the interwar period, new style trends emerge together with new techniques (frequent use of woodcut and linocut), although one can still sense influence of Zagreb Spring Salons, within expressive forms' prints. These (Gecan, Trepše, Šulentić and Tabaković, Sumanović, Tomašević) are lacking the collection, although all of the mentioned authors have their drawings within the Museum's holdings. Aspirations towards Constructivism are realised by Serge Glumac, who introduced metropolitan atmosphere of the social themes. Harder, cheaper and less demanding graphic techniques, especially wood-engraving and linocut, have found their true action field at the end of interwar period, from 1929-1935, within engaged, radical art of social thematic such as activity of Zemlja group  and works by Tiljak, Detoni and Kokotović. 

During the Liberation War in Yugoslavia (1941-1945), some of the young partisan artists succeeded to create a print or two, although they preferred drawing. However, collection holds the famous map titled Pit from 1944, with prints by Edo Murtić and Zlatko Prica. Same subject inspired Frano Baće to create lithographs.

During the era of socialist realism (1945-1950), print becomes more competitive and artists react with graphic prints in woodcut and linocut as a natural continuation of the war creation, including the war-related themes. This meant preserving continuity of the graphic production, albeit now it became an expression of a ruling cultural model (not any more alternative as in the time of Zemlja group). Such is a map by Kovačević titled Through our Fight, and some graphics by Albert Kinert.

After 1950, a process of simpler, quicker and cheaper multiplication of the artist's graphic specimen undergoes growing technical improvement through introduction of the simpler and faster techniques and assisting devices for screen-print, serigraphy, photo print, offset, xerox... New socialist programme propagates accessible graphic art. Naprijed house printed graphic maps (lithographs, serigraphs) of the twelve eminent Croatian artists (in series of 2000 copies) which were also sent to Modern Gallery.  In 1957 the artists were: Picelj, Angeli Radovani, Generalić, Hegedušić and Kinert. In 1958 these were  Kulmer, Lovrenčić and  Prica. Year 1959 is presented  by Murtić and Vaić, while in 1960 these were Herman and Stančić.  Behind the listed names there lay many poetics, styles, and trends which were  perpetually cultivated  by these authors. They gave graphics a try to see how their ideas function in another media.

From 1950 to 1980 graphics in Croatia provided a significant contribution, especially through the so called Zagreb Serigraphy School, which comprised of Exat-51 members and consider as congenial such artists as Juraj Dobrović and such artworks as the strictly minimalist prints by Knifer, Seder and Bućan. Ante Kuduz and Miroslav Šutej produced mobile graphics which exercised a shift into a completely new, specific graphic field and new paths. This school's  formal language was a geometric abstraction and serigraphy was its expressive technique, although the later was used by the artists of differing inclinations. Subsequently, computers entered graphics, together with parallel visual experiments (Žiljak, Richter). From the 80ies onwards, graphic art loses a significant role in the art events in general. It dissipates into many particular approaches, stands and styles. Innovations are continually introduced, transforming technique, execution manner  and presentation of prints, maps, graphic books, all produced in endless variety of colours, kinds of paper and ensembles, spatial installations and combinations with many other media, technological and digital procedures. Hence, today, it is hard to discern a kind of graphics at hand.

Collection of Prints by Foreign Graphic Artists is more modest and consists of 43 authors, 64 prints and 4 maps. It has never been systematically planned nor purchased  due to an always present limiting legal factor and financial framework for buying foreign artworks. These prints have mainly  arrived into the museum collection through donations by the actual authors or certain institutions. As a result,  we cannot speak of systematic tracking the trends and phenomena in Europe, not to mention world at large.

The Collection of Prints by Foreign Authors comprises also artists from the 19th and the early 20th century, all inherited from the other collections (Bartolini, Bormann, Gray, Manna, Mignaco, Vespignani). Subsequent activity and programme of international exhibitions brought into collection prints by foreign authors. The Museum collection also used to get enlarged after the solo exhibitions or through donations at the occasion of authors visiting the museum  (Fotti, Mortensen).

Amongst the more distinguished, world-renown names of modern and contemporary art, collection holds prints by Victor Vasarely, Otto Pine, Friedensreich Hudertwasser, Jean Messagier, Giuseppe Zigaine and some others,  with a tendency of future collection  growth.
Daina Glavočić

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