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Predrag Dragojevic

DRAGOMIR GLISIC (1872-1957)


Importance of a studio

        The beginnings of modern Serbian art of the twentieth century are connected to a small number of people, so its history is not rich in names to let anyone be forgotten. One of them is the name of Dragomir Glisic.

        Dragomir Glisic began as a self-taught in his native Valjevo, doing portraits from the photographs. A writer Ljubomir Nenadović noticed him and encouraged him to start painting. Since 1895th he was taught by Cyril Kutlika, in Belgrade, as the oldest student of the first generation of the first drawing-painting and artistic craft schools in Serbia; around the same time as Milan Milovanovic (1876-1946), Kosta Milicevic (1877-1920), Nadezda Petrovic (1873-1915). From 1899th to 1904th he stayed in Munich, studying at the
Academy and for a time, alongside he was attending the art-craft school. After returning to Belgrade, he briefly worked as a cartoonist and as a teacher of drawing in the evening craft schools. After the failure of establishing a private school of painting, in 1904 he received in a place as a drawing teacher at the Third Belgrade High School; for his pedagogical work he was repeatedly awarded with the Order of St. Sava. He became a member of "Lada" (1904) and the Serbian Art Association (1907). From 1912 to 1918 participated in all the wars of Serbia. The time from 1916-1918 he spent on the site of a formational war painter and photographer, which then existed in the Serbian army. At the very front, he recorded and produced a large number of photographs, made a series of drawings, caricatures and sketches, and a series of oil paintings. (There are some data that he was a war painter even in 1913, but there are no saved works from that time.) In 1919 he became a member of the Association of Visual Artists (and in 1929, its president). The war took many years: before it, Glisic for art criticism was "one of the young", and in the inter-war period, remaining one of the few active painters of his generation, he was classified as the "older" and more conservative. In order to preserve academic apprenticeship, with his like-minded friends he founded the Association of qualified artists (1929-1932). Followed by progressively reserved courts of modern critics, but popular at the audience and the customers (various ministries, banks, companies, prominent individuals, some politicians, one of his pictures is in the famous Slomovic’s collection), Dragomir Glisic has left behind a large number of portraits, still life, landscapes and icons. He exhibited several times a year, as a rule, in various group exhibitions. He continued to work during the Second World War (despite all personal losses) and later, literally until the last days of his life.

        Through many years of the work of Dragomir Glišić the entire course of Serbian painting of the first half of the twentieth century, every change and novelty reflects. Through lightening and drawing in some of his early work, the traces of secession are recognized. In some other, with color and freedom of expression, the expressionistic strokes are achieved. On the Salonika Front, under the strong sun, and (due to lack of time) working quickly he achieves impressionistic form. In the third decade of the 20th century, he approaches the classical current, and with the choice of interesting natural shapes he approaches the expressionist form. Before some of the motives he only sees the color, so in the late twenties he again returns to the current use of color. He also finds himself in poetic realism and intimism, whose ideas (turning to the real, old masters, simplicity, intimacy) he has carried a long time and as new trends he only "met" them during the thirties. Just before another war,he knew how to approach so-called "Social art". But, while modern artists lived these changes deeply as a new phase in art development for Glišićevom those were only dialogues with modern art, trips to the current flows, after which he would return to his basic, realistic manner of expression.

        Namely, unlike his peers, the pioneers of modern current in Serbian art of the 20th century, Glisic went the other way. Today, he can be considered a pioneer and leading representative of an insufficiently shown, but in his time a strong, active and influential conservative power in the Serbian artistic life of the first half of the 20th century. While studying at Kutlika, his role models were Paja Jovanovic, Uroš Predić and Djordje Krstic. In Munich, he met Ažbe, from whom many modern painters were learning, but he was turned to the Academy, influences of Lajbl’s realism, Pinakoteka and old masters whose copies he made. Without changing its basic ideas about art (he presented them in detail in 1939 and 1957), he held in the grounds reaisticway of work. He understood Modernism as a continuation of the old art and its formal refreshment („without a shadow painting", "no anatomy and only the main surface left"). In Cezanne, Matisse and Van Gog, for example, he saw the artists who still "mastered the craft well”, and into their works they brought „all the positive elements of academic knowledge”. He thought, on the contrary, that many Serbian artists just seemed "modern" and they didn’t own the (academic) knowledge. Painting the reality that he saw, the same way he read a modern image, he never accepted the modern idea of the picture. Elements of the new art he took only as a supplement to the old. So he could only accept the secession to the line where the visions and metaphysical messages start, impressionism to a point beyond which explicity is lost and two-dimensional performances begin. But not further. Abstract painting for him was "insanity that can not be held. There are boundaries of form and conception. And not only Glišić’s views. Such a restrained attitude encountered once the sympathy of the audience. Some data show that in the inter-war period over a thousand and five hundred of his paintings were purchased, so you can say that the painting of Dragomir Glisic and the principle on which it is based are a significant indicator of greater artistic tastes of the audience of his era.

        Today, the majority of Glišić’s works are scattered, perhaps forever lost, with many private owners. A number of state-owned are occasionally lost and returned to the public. Proportionally, little of Glišić’s works are in the own of  museums (National Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade City Museum, Museum of Valjevo, Military Museum), and this fact has prevented the initiative of museum professionals in the comprehensive interpretation of his art. (The most decent interpretation has been done on the war period, by Šuica Nada, the Military Museum in Belgrade during the seventies and eighties of the 20th century). So today the family collection, in Glišić’s studio, naturally, is the initial and main point for the study of his artistic works. It has been formed long and maintained with difficulty, in his studio. The first studio was at the Cathedral, and was destroyed in World War II; after the war he arranged the space in the attic of a primary school in Dorcol; he gave the other studio in the mid-twenties to Marino Tartalja; the third studio he made in 1926 in one room of his newly built family house in Binički street; the last and largest studio he built in 1934 as a separate building in the back yard. There are ground floor and first floor, where there was Glišić’s workspace. Under the caring eye of his daughter Mara (1911-2004), the look of the studio and the collection have remained unchanged since Glisic;s death until today, almost no subject (easel, palettes, boxes with colors, chairs, the rest space) changed its position, and especially pictures, of which some "reflect" in one another. Concern about the memory of Dragomir Glišić;s art was for a long time mainly on her and her family.

        The main studio still keeps the Glišic’s works from all periods of its development, and all areas in which he tried himself as an artist (painting, caricatures, illustrations, photographs, applied art, art pedagogy), a significant part of the documentation (reproduction) and personal archive (diplomas, certificates, correspondence, etc.).


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