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Permanent Collection

Zoran Mušič

Zoran Mušič

(Bukovica near Gorizia, 1909 – Venice, 2005)

A Bullfight
(1935), gouache, paper, 413 x 527 mm
Not signed

ZD 2014171, The Ljuban, Milada and Vanda Mušič Collection
Zoran Mušič was captivated by bullfights during a student trip to Spain in 1935, inspired by his professor at the Zagreb academy, Ljubo Babić. While staying in Madrid, he attended several bullfights, which he recorded by producing a few gouaches, drawings, and photographs, even publishing some of them as illustrations of his diary entries from Spain in the newspaper Slovenec and the journal Umetnost.
During the time when bullfights were becoming controversial, Mušič had a completely different experience than Babić, who had to leave the stadium during the ceremonious slaughter of the confused bulls. Mušič was captivated by the color palette of the Spanish tradition, the elegance of the dance between life and death, just as the bullfights had caused Ernest Hemingway to contemplate death and the human nature of fear and bravery upon admiring the toreadors. This gouache communicates the painter’s fascination with the colorful world of the “danse macabre” of the bullfighters and their victims.
In a diary entry from 4 May 1935, Mušič wrote, “They speak of a circus, of a butcher shop, and of a nation of cruelty. Dear Lord – a bit of blood, just like everywhere else. How can these people beyond Spain’s borders not see the extraordinary figure of the rapier dancing in a red cloak in the arena? How do they not see in this slender line the very embodiment and embellishment of dance, the most beautiful thing the Spaniards have to offer? The rapier dance, as the swordsman dances around the bull on his tiptoes, twirling his red cape around him as he goes. This is naught else but dance, transferred from the stage to the arena, in all its magnificent and extravagant decoration.”