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).
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.”
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.
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.