Posted by: Valentino Radman | April 29, 2010

Jozo Kljaković

One of my first post was about Jozo Kljaković’s mozaics in Rome. Here are some of the drawings and paintings from his early period. Since I have a thing for art nouveau/ secession, I’ve chosen works that have a distinct feel of that age. Kljaković at first studied architecture in Prague, but at the same time took private lessons with Vlaho Bukovac. Later he went to Vienna, hoping that Klimt (whose works, which Kljaković saw at Bukovac’s studio, impressed him) will take him on as a pupil in his studio. Since Klimt was not giving private classes, he advised young Kljaković to enroll at the Academy. Kljaković, however, being a wandering spirit, decided not to do that, but went on studying works of old and modern masters in Vienna’s museums and galleries instead. He later returned to Croatia, but after seeing Hodler’s exhibition, he moved to Geneva and enrolled at Hodler’s studio.  There in Geneve Kljaković met many now famous artists, writers and musicians – Igor Stravinski, for instance. Unlike Kljaković, Stravinski was thrilled with then cutting edge art of Picasso, Braque, Apollinaire, Cocteau, Archipenko, Chagall… Young Kljaković was much more enthusiastic with Bonard, Vuillard, Bourdelle, Maillol… Stravinski on once occasion remarked: “You are young man, but you do not think like one and you appear to be against contemporary art, new art whose time is coming”. Kljaković responded: “Maestro, I am not against new art, I am against chaos in art and this what is coming is chaos.” Knowing how the events unfolded in the decades to come, one is tempted to agree (at least to some extent) with Kljaković.

Here are two works which clearly show the extent of Kljaković’s student’s fascination with Klimt and Hodler

Salome, 1911                             Annunciation

Three Graces (1918)                                      Les Esclaves (1918)

Kljaković was intrigued by Picasso (whom he met in Paris, while studying mural painting with Marcel Lenoir), though he was not fond of Picasso’s destruction of traditional forms and pictorial space. Here is Kljaković’s joke on Picasso along with his own cubist-like drawing.

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