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Exhibitions and Projects
Exhibition | 13 Dec. 2023 – 17 Mar. 2024

Drawings of Janez Potočnik in the Collection of the National gallery of Slovenia

From the moment of donation of Janez Počnik's folder of drawings to the National Gallery of Slovenia they have represented a special challenge to researchers. Izidor Cankar refuted the option of their creation in a school in Vienna, while it is impossible to identify the quality of paper used and the ambitious format in any other environment. We have managed to spot Potočnik's name among the students of the Art Academy in Vienna in 1776. The dam-and deaf painter survived at the academy only for a short time because he could not get appropriate attention in following the curriculum. He spent a semester or two copying after two dimensional model drawings and prints. Jakob Matthias Schmutzer (1733−1811) prepared the majority of expressive heads for the academic use.

Potočnik drew from a model drawing that was still in use in 1844 when Paul Künl attended the academy. We have recognized at least one in the portfolio at the National Gallery by Künl's hand, dated 1844. Thus, we can get an insight into the history of the portfolio. Drawings received by the National Gallery in 1922 were given to the painter Simon Ogrin by Alojz Valenta M. D. Valenta was a gynaecologist, teacher at the school for midwives and the head of the Institute and Museum of Anatomy opposite to the "Medja's house", where Janez Wolf sent Ogrin to draw human skeleton. Ogrin donated to the National Gallery Valenta's drawings, purchased at an antiquarian shop on Šentjakobsko nabrežje. Valenta's widow gave second part of the collection to the Arts and Crafts School in Ljubljana in 1923. They were united with the drawings at the National Gallery after 1945. That second part, in which drawings after Schmuztzer's expressive heads dominate, remained unknown to Izidor Cankar. The exhibition enables us to reconstruct the education path of an artist with cognitive limitations before introduction of standardized sign language and institutions for the people with special needs existed.

13 December 202317 March 2024
National Gallery of Slovenia
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana