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Oskar Herman, Persuasion, 1921, Oil on canvas, 1078 x 990 mm, MMSU-161 Vladimir Becić, Still Life, 1919, Oil on plywood, 270 x 350 mm, MMSU-129 Milivoj Uzelac, In Nature,  1920 – 1923, Oil on canvas, 1110 x 1500 mm, MMSU-627
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Collection of Paintings

The painting Collection at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art has a certain particularity in comparison to painting collections at the other  congenial museums. This particular feature is a capacity to provide  pregnant picture and representative specimen of a characteristic manner of refracting, intersecting and synthesising of the influences - exercised by art traditions and modern and vanguard lines, movements and trends of the 19th and the 20th century in Rijeka and whole of the region. After Rijeka got liberated from the Italian rule, powerful influences of traditions generated within art centres of Italy and Austrian-Hungarian Empire, that is Venice, Trieste, Vienna and Budapest (until 1918 and afterwards, down to the present day) were joined by influences from Croatian "Yugoslav" and generally European and world's modern and contemporary painting. 

Some segments of the collection's structure are characterised with numerous valuable acquisitions. In the past, these segments  were classified into the following collections:  Croatian Painting, Croatian Sculpture, Rijekan Authors until 1945  and Foreign Authors. Amongst the foreign artworks great majority is by the artists from countries of ex-Yugoslav federation (1918-1945 and 1945-1991): Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Monte Negro and Macedonia.

Painting oeuvres of the artists whose life and work is linked to Rijeka and/or Opatija stand out by being most thoroughly represented and processed. This primarily concerns works by Ivan (Giovanni)  Simonetti, Romolo Venucci, Ivo Kalina and Jakov Smokvina.
Simonetti's watercolours excel by their quality workmanship, metier and refinement in approaching portrait genre. Amongst the plastic artworks by older Rijekan authors and foreign artists whose work originated during their stay in Rijeka (in cities of Fiume or respectively Sušak) and works within private collections or collections of municipal / state institutions, a special quality  distinguishes  Simonetti's paintings. The same goes for the best works by Angelović (very expressive Self-portrait characterised  by  restrained tension between Realistic and Romantic approach to his own face and character) and a whole range of protagonists of Biedermeier, Realism and Academicism of the  19th century painting. These comprise oils portraying Rijekan citizens, as well as panoramas, landscapes, interiors, genre-scenes and portraits done in watercolour technique (Seelos, Ender, Leard, Marcello Ostrogovich, Venucci ... )  as well as oil on canvas and cardboard (Carlo Ostrogovich,  Moretti Zajc, Venucci, Arnold, Raicich, De Gauss  and other Rijeka painters).
 
From a standpoint of art and art history, painting collection holds specially  valuable realizations dating from a period of beginning of modernist painting in Croatia, including few dozens of brilliant watercolours, watercolour drawings and gouaches by Slava Raškaj dating from 1899 – 1900 period ( Pergola, Lobor, watercolours from a map originated in Ozalj and its surrounding after a painter has returned form Zagreb, all considered to be her supreme artworks). There are also oils by  Bela Csikos Sessie (House at Sun in Boscotrecase from 1893 and others ), Becić's Self-portrait  from 1907, Kraljević's paintings  Parc du Lux, II and others), a wonderful self-portrait by Anka Krizmanić from 1914 and Steiner's  landscape from 1917. The collection also includes high quality works dating from the 20ies and the 30ies, done by a pleiad of significant Croatian modernists and vanguardists: Herman (Persuasion 1921), Šumanović ( Port agent, Fishermen, 1920 – 1921), Vidović ( From a Port, 1914. – 1924?), Gecan (portraits, nudes), Uzelac ( In Nature 1920. – 1923, a significant work from a period  of Blue salon ), Trepše ( Self-portrait 1920), Junek (Self-portrait, 1927), Job (Accordionist, Uzorinac and other oils), Sonja Kovačić Tajčević ( Black Man with a Pink Hat,  Mother and Child ), Dobrović, Ružička, Tartaglia, Motika and others. Special quality characterises artworks by painters gathered in and around Zemlja group: Hegedušić (oils of anthological value  and significance when it comes to understanding Zemlja poetics: Requisitions, Requiem, Carnival, Siget Wretches), Detoni ( New Shirt, 1934) and early "naive" painters  such as Generalić ( Auction 1934 and others),  Virius ( Wedding Procession, 1938); then Mujadžić ( Savska Road 1932), Postružnik ( Marina, 1939),
Svečnjak (Petrica, 1937), Aralica ( Landscape, 1930 – 1940). A particular quality is also  revealed in works by numerous other brush masters presented at the following MMCA exhibitions: Croatian Modernism (1992), Slava Raškaj ( 1993 ) and Watercolours from the Modern Gallery Holdings ( 2000). 
 
Thanks to purchases and donations collection was enriched with some of the best works from significant oeuvres by Ivo Kalina (retrospective exhibition in 1994),  and Jakov Smokvina (retrospective exhibition in 1996), both deserving to occupy distinguished positions within a permanent MMCA setup. The same goes for works by Romolo Venucci ( Romulusz Wnoucsek ), the most important Rijekan representative of the post-Cubism, Cubo- Constructivism Cubo-Futurism (whose works are gathered within the special collection, ibid. supplement by the collection's supervisor, a senior curator Daina Glavočić). Considering such acquisitions, our museum can pregnantly render striking line / network of development of modernist painting in Rijeka and Croatia. It can also present a manner in which it has been refracted, mediated and enriched by peculiar poetics and handwriting of these great painters, as well as individual contributions by other Rijekan artists (Udatny, Žunić, Pavoković, Depope, Haller and others).
Here we refer to outstandingly valuable oils and watercolours by  Jakov Smokvina  and to the masterpieces  of Croatian abstract expressionism and the gesture-treated 60ies assemblages by  Ivo Kalina. Being  one of our top-notch highly-modernist painters whose rich oeuvre kept originating until his death in 1995, he left a powerful trace and influence, comparable only to Venucci's - upon a whole pleiad of contemporary art creators (Stipanov, Frank, Milić, Sorola – Staničić and others).
Our collection stands out by virtue of certain works by Croatian masters of lyric abstraction and Informel painting , such as paintings  from different developmental phases of  Murtić, Prica, Kopač, Kulmer, Petlevski, Perić, Gattin, Seder, Dogan, Reiser and so called "Gorgonians" Jevšovar, Hruškovac and Horvat together with  works by Kalina and Smokvina.  Bauhaus-wise, abstract-geometric, Neo-plasticist and Constructivist poetics are displayed in  representative paintings by members of Exat-51 group: Kristl, Picelj, Rašica, and Knifer, Šutej, Srnec ( New Tendencies ) and others. Peculiarity and high quality  of painting by Josip Vaništa is revealed in an oil on canvas titled Laterna magica, dating from 1954. Collection holds some valuable works by Ljubo Ivančić (Speckled Wall 1958 – 1961, Small Composition, 1956 – 1957), by Italian futurist Ardengo Soffici and also by Carlo Sbisa, Marko Čelebonović, Milo Milunović, Konjović, Omčikus, Lubarda,  Milosavljević, Teodosi, Alviani, Stupica, Musič, Barbarigo, Cossovel, Pregelj, Bernik,  Mesarič, Gorjup, Popović, Protić, Protić, Trbojević, Fistrič, IRWIN group, Sever,  Alavanja, Trajković, Gumilar  and numerous newer painters. It also includes artists from the bordering media realms of painting-sculpting installation like Laszlo Kerekes (Smorgasbord of Adriatic-Pannonian Painting II, 1987), Mirjana Đorđević (Moon, wall installation in combined technique, 1991) or Chaves (Gladly Remembered Mountain Days, 1994, Roadrunner, 1995).
Development of the contemporary Croatian painting enfolded from the 60ies and the 70ies innovative situation, through New Painting and Neo-Geo. This can be followed through 60ies and  00ies works by Feller, paintings by Kulmer ( early, mature and "late" i.e. postmodernist) and Šebalj, as well as though Eterović's works from the 70ies and the present time. Collection holds works by  V.D. Trokut ( dating from beginning of the 70ies), Kipke (Dialogue, 1983, Haddah, 1986 and a cycle titled Curses and Numbers, 1999), Jerman ( combined techniques at  photo paper and photographs), Demur, Delimar ( whose mixed – media ambiental installation Looking for a Woman  is located within  a collection of Sculpting and Extended Media, supervised by senior curator Nataša Ivančević), Sokić, Ivančić, Jurić, Seder, Stipešević ( Diptych, 1987), Stipanov, Frank, Milić, Kuduz, Keser, Božić, Grdić, Milenković, Mogin, Kutnjak ( Reality Behind Reality, 1983 – 1984, Self-portrait 1987),
Pongrac, Molnar ( Sum, 1997), Vincek ( painting installation Turkey Trepanation, 1996 – 1998, triptych Per salviam ... , 1996 – 1998), Zrinšćak, Laginja, Šimrak, Sorola – Staničić and others.
 
However, many of the mixed-media "paintings" by these artists are held in other collections within MMCA holdings. Due to their specific features regarding "extended media", they have mainly been assigned into the collection of sculptures and extended media (ibid. supplement by senior curator Nataša Ivančević). Most of artworks by the above mentioned authors have been presented during the last years exhibition Innovations – Acquisitions! (author: Branko Cerovac, 2002) i.e. Painting, Gesture, Matter – Art of the 80ies" (author: Nataša Ivančević, 2004). Interesting and rich segment of the collection is revealed in  numerous painting-drawings done at paper (watercolours, gouaches, tempera, various mixed procedures at paper) by Croatian and foreign authors like Flexor, Messagier, Toral, Monirul, Horak, Gil, Klein, Sottsass, Perčinlić and others.
Insights into this and other congenial productions provide us with a wider understanding of a very advanced process of contemporary "mediatization" of the painting. Today, painting becomes more and more liable to growingly unusual conceptual, methodological and technical transformations. It has also became opened to interventions and other approaches to visual art procedure as well as to differing comprehension of a traditional / classic idiom of PAINTING.
                                                                                             Branko Cerovac
                                                                                             senior curator at MMCA

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