November 13th, 2014

Ivan Generalić as one of the most famous Croatian artists of the 20th century


Croatia Post has celebrated the birthday of a great artist Ivan Generalić with a special commemorative stamp. According to info received by the stamp has been issued in sheetlet of 9 items. The stamp is to be released and put into circulation on the 17th of November.

Ivan Generalić was born in 1914 at Hlebine in a poor peasant’s family. After finishing five grades of elementary school, he helped parents in everyday work in agriculture and household. He became systematically occupied with drawing since 1930 under the mentorship of Krsto Hegedušić and began to expose his work from 1931.

Historically, Ivan Generalić is the first and also a key painter of the Hlebine School and Croatian naive painting and one of the most famous Croatian artists of the 20th century, an appreciated representative of the figurative tendencies in the time of prevailingly abstract art and a classic painter of the world naive art.

His earliest works are characterized by strict compositions, reduction to the essential, plane surfaces and accentuated stylization; through colours we pursue the development from local colour toward tonalism. He depicts typical village motifs, often with a strong social and critical accent. His figures are represented in a typological manner, personal identification is omitted; he does not represent individuals but representatives of a particular social category or class.

Generalić uses realistic details, but with their arbitrary treatment and positioning disturbs the realistic organisation: everything is generalised, supra-individual, full of bucolica and pervaded by lyrism. Romantic concept of rural landscape prevails. In the middle of 1950-ties Generali? begins to include into his work also a series of symbolic elements which results in allegories and fantasy: he does not paint only what he sees but also what he knows and imagines about the depicted.

Although further inspired by the seen, the notion picture suppresses more and more the visual and the imaginative starts to prevail: some of the most beautiful modern pictorial fairy-tales are created, full of miracularity. In the beginning of the seventies of the last century Generalić introduces new variations: everything is strongly simplified and reduced to the essential, the fireworks of colour and painting is reduced to only few basic tones.

The painting Requisition (Rekvizicija) from 1934 is among the most prominent examples of his socially and politically engaged works and an anthology work of Croatian painting of the 20th century. It depicts tax collectors who, in the presence of policemen, seize a cow from poor villagers because they did not pay tax, and, take from them crops and wheat.

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