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Exhibitions and Projects
2 March–5 April 2017

Revelations, March 2017

Jakob Savinšek: Draft for a Monument to Architect Jože Plečnik

Sculptor Jakob Savinšek (Kamnik, 4 February 1922 – Kirchheim, 17 August 1961) belongs among the leading representatives of Slovene modernist sculpture. After having finished classical grammar school during the Second World War, he attended drawing lessons with painter Rihard Jakopič. In 1945 he registered as a student at the newly established fine arts academy in Ljubljana, where he studied under the brothers Zdenko and Boris Kalin, Frančišek Smerdu and Peter Loboda. In the 1950s he extensively travelled across Europe, and in 1961, jointly with his colleague sculptor Janez Lenassi, he encouraged the establishment of international symposia of sculpture in Slovenia, the so-called Forma viva.

Savinšek is a representative of an intermediate phase of sculpture in Slovenia, between the older and the younger sculptors' generations. During his extremely short creative career he passed from traditional realistic figural concepts to abstract solutions. His early public monuments were closer to the established realism (Monument to Julius Kugy at Trenta, 1952), but he later managed to include modernist paradigm also in his outdoor works that were executed on commission (The National Liberation War Monument at Griček, 1954–1961; Monument to Author Ivan Tavčar, Visoko near Poljane, 1957; Monument to Poet Simon Gregorčič, Kobarid, 1958).

Writing about Jakob Savinšek in 1955, Luc Menaše said about him: “At the side of the few older sculptors, at the side of the two Kalin brothers, Putrih and Smerdu, among a few promising ones, and at the side of numerous artisans, a tall, determined man has emerged, tenacious, soberly contemplating, but also of a zealous spirit. No sooner had we taken a good notice of him that he already stood right in the first row, and he doesn’t even seem to be satisfied with it.”

Jakob Savinšek was an explicit figural sculptor, since a great number of well-thought out, psychologically characterized portraits conspicuously mark his oeuvre. During the period of Socialist Realism portraits became a less important task in sculpture because priority was given to motifs of the National Liberation War and those of work and workers. The only exceptions were portraits of prominent politicians. In the 1950s Savinšek gradually transformed his figures into pure forms by means of omitting realistic details but keeping recognizable identification features. The Draft for a Monument to Architect Jože Plečnik (1872–1957) that never came to be realized was made in 1957, the year of the architect’s death. Designed in an elegant soft line, stylized and simplified, but monumental at the same time in its intimacy, it offers a spectator a dynamic view from all around. In his search for pure expressive forms the sculptor relied on Constantin Brancusi and Henry Moore and transformed his draft into simplified curves envisaged as signs, yet the indicated basic facial characteristics render possible the identification of the great architect. The portrait emanates tension, vitality and creativity, thus capturing the spirit of Plečnik.

The psychologically meaningful draft belongs to the Government Art Collection within the holdings of the National Gallery of Slovenia and was purchased from the artist in 1960 by the then Council of Education and Culture.

By presenting Jakob Savinšek’s draft for a monument to Plečnik the National Gallery of Slovenia commemorates the 145th anniversary of the birth and the 60thanniversary of the death of the famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik.

Mateja Breščak

2 March–5 April 2017
Narodna galerija
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana