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Exhibitions and Projects
6. February–4. March 2020

Revelations, February 2020

New acquisition of the National Gallery of Slovenia - a present from the Narodni dom Sports Association: Ivan Vavpotič, Poster for the Third Slovenian All-Sokols Slet in Ljubljana 1914

Early in January 2019, the Narodni dom Sports Association presented the National Gallery of Slovenia with a poster inviting to the Third Slovenian All-Sokols Slet in Ljubljana from 15 to 17 August 1914. The event was meant to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Slovenian Sokol Union. The majestic poster executed in the technique of colour lithograph was designed by Ivan Vavpotič (1877–1943), whose signature can well be seen in the bottom left-hand corner. The poster was printed in the Blasnik Printing House in Ljubljana. ‒ In addition to the poster, Vavpotič also designed other items of promotional material for the occasion, among them also a series of postcards whose motifs are related to the virtues of the Sokol movement members (fraternity, love of freedom, firm character, courage, power/strength, beauty, etc.). A few copies of the postcards are held in the National Gallery in the artist's personal legacy within the framework of the Gallery's special collection of archival and documentary materials of artists and their companions.

Ivan Vavpotič (1877–1943), the Slovenian painter, illustrator, designer and stage set designer, was born in Kamnik into a physician's family. His father's professional career soon led the family to Novo mesto, where Ivan spent his youth. In the Novo mesto grammar school he was a schoolmate and friend of poet Dragotin Kette (1876‒1899), a representative of the Slovenian literary Moderna.

After the leaving examination (matura) in 1897 the young Vavpotič left for Prague to study there. He first enrolled in the academy of music to study piano, but in 1898 he shifted to the academy of fine arts, where he studied painting:  figure composition with professors Václav Brožík (1851‒1901) and Vojtěch Hynais (1854−1925) and landscape painting with Julius Eduard Mařák (1832‒1899) and Maximilian Pirner (1853‒1924). Even before his graduation he spent a year in Paris (École du Louvre, 1900/1901) and half a year in Vienna to upgrade his art studies. He married in Prague, and after he finished his studies in 1905 he got employed as a teacher of drawing and art history at the Straka Academy; in parallel, he specialised in painting with Hynais.

In 1906, he was in with a chance of returning to the homeland: with his wife and little son Bruno (1904‒1995), the later painter and stage set designer, he moved to Idrija where he taught freehand drawing at the secondary modern school. A daughter, Rut (1908‒1996), was also born there; she later became an excellent ballet dancer of European renown. ‒ In 1910 Ivan Vavpotič and his family finally moved to Ljubljana where he mainly earned his living as a freelance artist. The Great War meant the first discontinuance, when between 1915 and 1918 he worked at the War Press Office as a painter in the battlefield and in the rear, and between 1926 and 1929  he was employed as a stage set and costume designer  in the Ljubljana National Theatre.

Ivan Vavpotič was a somewhat original companion of the artists of the Vesna and the Sava groups. He is known for his pleasing bourgeois portraits, cityscapes, landscapes, and still-lifes, and was also an excellent illustrator (he illustrated a number of Slovenian fiction books), designer (posters, postcards, promotion materials, he designed the first Slovenian postage stamp) and stage set designer (e.g.: Marij Kogoj, Črne maske /Black Masks/, 1929; Slavko Grum, Dogodek v mestu Gogi /An Event in the Town of Goga/, 1931). He was a versatile artist who perfectly adapted his visual expression to the clients, but neither was extravagance alien to him. Vavpotič's oeuvre comprises realistic, pleinairistic, Art Nouveau- and symbolism-inspired images and also surrealistic ones.

Mojca Jenko                                                                  

Translated by
Alenka Klemenc

6 February - 4 March 2020
National Gallery of Slovenia
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana