Designer of the Week, 22 – 28 January 2021
Anastas Jovanović (1817-1899)
Anastas Jovanović’s work on creating designs for utility objects was based upon examples and practices of the then-contemporary European art. The formative framework for this artistic activity was enabled due to his long-time presence in the capital of the Austrian Empire. The ways of its development were shaped by ideas gained at the Academy of Fine Arts whose curriculum sparked connecting art with industry and trade, and were channelled through Jovanović’s active participation in the artistic and cultural life of Vienna, and by means of gaining knowledge about trends in European art he got acquainted with during short trips and sojourns.
Designs for utility objects were dated to a wide period of his life and work in Vienna, from the graduation from the Academy in 1846 until his return to Belgrade in 1858. They were probably connected with the activity of Jovanović’s studio-workshop in Vienna. Apart from designs for tableware which comprise the largest part, the group of designs for objects of profane use likewise includes designs for different elements of interior spatial arrangement and design, as well as garments. The group of designs for objects of sacral use is smaller and consists of designs for liturgical objects and liturgical vestments. All the designs were executed very skillfully and precisely, in the spirit of the current stylistic concepts of the Austrian and Central European artistic crafts (ger. Kunstgewerbe) in the mid-19th century.
Despite the fact that objects created after Jovanović’s designs have not been preserved, the identity of possible purchasers can be surmised primarily from the structure of the very designs. Judging by the manner of execution, the applied stylistic elements and material of which they were to be made, these objects belong to the same type of luxury objects of international provenance that were sent to Serbia during the 19th century, either via commissions or they were imported. Artfully designed luxurious objects were intended for a designated circle of consumers, coming from the bourgeoisie, and served for equipping their private abodes. Apart from primary utility function, art objects served to the aestheticisation of everyday life and common rituals, in accordance with the ideals of the Enlightenment that were present in Serbian culture of the 19th century.
Designer of the Week, 15 – 21 January 2021
Peter Carl Fabergé (Saint Petersburg, 1846 – Lausanne, 1920)
The name of Carl Fabergé, a renowned Russian jeweller and an heir to the family jewellery business, is associated with the years of absolute rise and success of the House of Fabergé in the 19th century.
He was the eldest son of Gustav Fabergé, a descendant of French Huguenots, who opened a jewellery shop in 1842 upon his arrival to Saint Petersburg. In 1860s Carl Fabergé completed his craftsmanship development in Europe and returned to Russia to take over his father`s company. At the beginning they dealt exclusively with creation of jewellery items. Carl Fabergé became an appraiser and restorer of the Russian Imperial Jewellery collection. He permanently drew the attention of the Russian Imperial Romanov family with his devoted work and original jewellery pieces and since 1885 he had become an official supplier and somewhat later an Imperial Jeweller to the Russian court.
Nowadays, the Fabergé name is most frequently connected to the collection of costly Easter eggs. In Russian Orthodox tradition, the miniature egg pendants being the symbols of resurrection, have represented a gift that was given for Easter. Inspired by this tradition, the workshop of Carl Fabergé created the first of many jewellery masterpieces in the shape of an Easter egg for Emperor Alexander III of Russia, who gave it to his wife Maria Feodorovna on Easter 1885. The custom of luxurious Easter eggs giving as a gift was resumed by his son Nicholas II of Russia up to 1916.
From 1887 the Fabergé workshop started with production of larger silver items, tableware and everyday silverware. The company branch was opened in Moscow and then in Odessa, Kiev, and London (from 1903 to 1905). After the October Revolution, Fabergé family left Russia.
The Museum of Applied Art preserves a ladies’ hair accessory (MAA, Inv. No. 21262) and a decorative silver cigarette case (MAA, Inv. No. 23003) originated from Fabergé workshop.
Designer of the Week, 25 - 31 December 2020
Dragutin Inkiostri Medenjak (1866–1942)
By combining the elements of folk art with the elements of the current art nouveau style, Inkiostri designed the entire interior of the house of scientist and geographer Jovan Cvijić, which was built on Kopitareva Gradina in Belgrade in 1905. Today, the house hosts the Museum of Jovan Cvijić, where visitors can still see parts of the original Inkiostri’s interior design.
The Museum of Applied Art’s collection keeps a table and a chair (МAA, Inv. Nos. 4834 and 22761), pieces of the suite intended for the office of the Minister of Education, the design of which Inkiostri created while preparing for the Balkan exhibition in London in 1907. The suite shows Inkiostri’s desire to preserve the traditional in woodwork, while simultaneously using the elements of art nouveau style. The collection also preserves a half armchair dated from the early 1920s (МAA, Inv. No. 22771), typical of this period of Inkiostri’s work, when, using decorative motifs taken from folk culture, he designed furniture of solid, cubic forms.
The Museum of Applied Art also preserves Inkiostri’s paintings on textiles which he began painting in 1909, by making wall panels and screens. After the outbreak of the First Balkan War, he began to paint patriotic allegories, such as Eagle and Gusle (1912) and Falcons (1913; МAA, Inv. Nos. 24208 and 9995), while in the period after the First World War, his paintings with a heron motif, such as Heron II (1928–1932; МAA, Inv. No. 9330), were in high demand. While painting herons, Inkiostri found his inspiration in the wood-carved motifs decorating the gusle, Macedonian Easter eggs, distaffs from Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro, as well as in other folk motifs.
Designer of the Week, 18 - 24 December 2020
Slobodan Mašić (Belgrade, 1939 – Belgrade, 2016)
In 1966 Slobodan Mašić published independently the book of poems Pustinja (Desert) by Marija Čudina. The book included the graphics Skladište (Warehouse) by Leonid Šejka, Čudina’s spouse. Two years later, together with Saveta Mašić, Bora Ćosić, Dragoš Kalajić and Stefan Bogdanović he founded the Studio Structure. Two independent editions followed – books Sadržaj (Content) by Bora Ćosić and Krševina (Rubble) by Dragoš Kalajić, where the logo of the Independent Editions was created – four upright arrows, pointed in different directions, often used later in other designs. Design of the inside pages of the Independent Editions is closely tied to Mašić’s striving to communicate political or sociological reflections in an appropriate manner. Unless the design is not readable, the texts lack „gravity“. This, according to Mašić, negates the author’s freedom to express his attitudes in a desired manner. He advocated the freedom of speech and published the works by authors who could not publish elsewhere, since in a socialist society the public communication was one-directional. Thus he operated in the critical social realm, to which he contributed his editions. Design acquires autonomy if it has a social function: namely, only on the strength of design the personal becomes visible in a wider social context.
Slobodan Mašić created a highly important body of work for the Belgrade International Theatre Festival (BITEF) from 1971 to 1996. Mira Trailović and Jovan Ćirilov (the founders) invited him to conceive the total design for the festival (catalogues, posters, booklets of the productions, memos, tickets and envelopes). Beginning with Bitef 9 Slobodan Mašić mainly used photography as the basis for design elaborated on the conceptual level, creating a new reality which operates only within the frameworks set up by the artist. For Bitef 10 he used the photo of his friend Ivan Pešić, placing on his eyeglass the multiplied translucent ideogram. This graphic design would become the trade mark of the festival. From Bitef 11 onwards he often used photographs of human body parts, taken by the regular collaborators of the Studio Structure, photographers Vladimir Popović and Branislav Nikolić. A specific body part, as a detail in the overall human organism, is zoomed across the entire format of the poster.
Designer of the Week, 11 - 17 December 2020
Designer of the Week, 4 - 10 December 2020
Miloš Babić (1904-1968)
Miloš Babić (1904-1968) belongs to the circle of creators whose oeuvre was not sufficiently known to the public at the time of its creation. He considered himself a painter, and his engagement in the field of graphic design a necessity that ensured his existence. In recent decades, his paintings have become part of the collections of the City Museum in Subotica and the National Museum in Belgrade, while the achievements he made in the field of graphic design have become holdings of the Museum of Applied Art.
After moving from Subotica to Belgrade in 1923, Miloš Babić began his career in the Atelier for Painting, Advertising, Firms and Decorations Futur owned by brothers Pavle Bihali and Oto Bihalji Merin. The experience of international constructivism, as well as the knowledge of the postulates of modern advertising, with which he became closely acquainted while working in Futur, were decisive for his design practice, to which he was dedicated from the late 1920s to the beginning of World War II. He worked with the advertising forms typical of the time – posters, newspaper and cinema ads, advertising leaflets, graphic identity of companies and labels for various products. The shops that sold cars, fabrics, clothing items, cosmetics, beverages and food were most often advertised, so that they are the most numerous among Babić’s clientele, which belonged to the trade elite. Cinema owners and industrialists also hired him. Babić participated in domestic competitions for graphic designs of posters, as well as in foreign ones.
Although he considered graphic design to be his existential necessity and not his desired choice, Miloš Babić was a responsible graphic designer who consistently avoided banality. He thus became one of the respectable representatives of the interwar Belgrade graphic design. Special value is attributed to his works created around 1930 when, while working with posters, he felt freest to express his affiliation with international constructivism.
Designer of the Week, 27 November - 3 December 2020
Vladislav Titelbah (1847-1925)
Vladislav Titelbah (1847-1925) was one of the most prominent personalities of Serbia’s artistic and cultural life in the last third of the 19th century, an illustrator, ethnologist and honorary member of the Serbian Royal Academy. Born as Czech, Titelbah was educated in Prague, but he spent most of his life in Serbia. From 1881, he participated in the creation of an ethnographic atlas within the project set up by the Serbian Academic Society. His illustrations were particularly noticed and awarded on the occasions of presenting the Kingdom of Serbia at major world exhibitions.
Vladislav Titelbah’s oeuvre contains over 9,000 watercolours, drawings, sketches and graphics inspired by Serbian folklore, national and mythological themes. As popular templates, these illustrations were used for decorating applied art objects.
The Museum of Applied Art’s collections keep the works of various studios and workshops that had the objects decorated and illustrated after Titelbah’s templates in their offer.
The porcelain plate belonging to the Collection of Ceramics, Glass and Porcelain is decorated after Titelbah’s ornamental depiction from medieval monasteries and play Marko Kraljevic is Drinking Wine. The decorative plate represents the work of the First Serbian Workshop for Porcelain and Glass Decoration by Uroš Čavić from Velika Kikinda, from 1904, which based the greatest segment of its activity on national motifs inspired primarily by Titelbah’s work. To support this, we would also like to present you a glass jug with a representation of Stefan the First-Crowned dated from the first decade of the 20th century, for the decoration of which master Čavić found inspiration in the same source.
Titelbah’s drawings after which motifs with national themes were produced in the print media in Serbia in the late 19th century – on the first series of postcards in Serbia, published by the Belgrade bookstore owned by Velimir Valožić (dated from 1895) and in the book Serbia: Description of the Country, the People and the State by Prof. Vladimir Karić (Belgrade, 1887), should be considered in the same context. A copy of the book, as well as two copies of the postcards belonging to the series printed in 1897 and 1898, are kept in the Collection of Photography and Print Room.
At the time of the Serbian national awakening, Titelbah’s work played an important role in creating the Serbian national identity in the wider social strata in Serbia. Today, his works are classified as first-class sources for the interpretation of Serbian visual culture and art of the 19th and early 20th century.
Designer of the Week, 20 - 26 November 2020
Berta Alkalaj b. Štajner (Pančevo, 1874 – ?), dressmaker
Therefore, good craftsmen, the owners of well-equipped salons, employed many workers. They worked only for well-off customers and went, often and repeatedly, to study abroad, bringing knowledge about new achievements and methods. Reputed craftsmen in Belgrade included the dressmaker Berta Alkalaj. She was married to the Belgrade-based textile merchant Josif Alkalaj and her dressmaker’s studio was located at Terazije.
As a popular figure among “ladies and damsels, especially from merchant classes”, Berta Alkalaj appears as a side character in Sreten Stojković’s novel Na stramputici (Led Astray, 1926). Through the story of the family of Nikola Mladenović, a wealthy linen and cotton merchant, the novel outlines social life and fashion in Belgrade “three years before the World War”. In the novel, Nikola’s daughters, Nada and Vera, had their ball gowns “of fine white foulard laid on pink silk, with pink bows on the shoulders, a gilded flickering belt and rows of glittering pearls suspended from it” made at Berta’s. According to Stojkovic’s story, the “inrush of customers” at Berta’s was such that it was “difficult to get one’s turn”, whereas wearing a dress made by her was a matter of prestige to such an extent that “some vain ladies were tempted to say that their gown was Berta’s work, though that was not the case”.
The Museum of Applied Art holds a beige silk wedding gown, with details rendered in machine-made lace, sewn at Berta Alkalaj’s dressmaking studio. Danica Paligorić, daughter of Kragujevac-based merchant Trifun Paligorić, wore the gown at her wedding to the infantry major Nikola Jorgovanović in Niš in 1911. Apart from the detailed information about who wore the gown and when, its special value for fashion studies in Serbia lies in the fact that some of the accessories worn by Danica at her wedding have also been preserved: a part of the bridal wreath (MAA, accession no. 22866), gloves and shoes, along with photographs and other documents relating to their wedding (wedding invitation, menu for the wedding luncheon, the order of dances, etc).