Vojin Bakić is undoubtedly one of the most important Croatian artists, and as well recognized beyond the Croatian borders. Already in 1964 Herbert Read has included him in the review of modern sculpture (Modern Sculpture, A Concise History, Thames & Hudson). In his early works such as Bather (1942-1943), as well as portraits of S.S. Kranjcevic (1948) and I.G. Kovacic (1946) one can comprehend his sculptural excellence, though the figurative language is still present. It was a step toward modernism and abstraction that has made Bakić part of the history of European sculpture.
Bakić’s work occupies a key position in the art of former Yugoslavia: during the Cold War, abstraction in art was made the arena for quite different and opposing ideologies and their interpretations or appropriations. Bakić’s work rejected such simplifications from the 1950s onwards by employing abstraction – as an artistic grammar of forms – inside of the official, socialist art system.
Bakić’s art, the successes and difficulties he encountered during his life, as well as the current disregard that is shown towards him from official Croatian quarters, provide a touchstone with which one can explore various problems and figures in the post-socialist environment.
1915 Born in 1915 Bjelovar, Croatia.
1938 Graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb.
1938 Returned to Bjelovar where he has organized his first solo exhibition.
1956 Exhibited at the Venice Biennale his sculptures Horse Head, Taurus and Birds, executed during mid-fifties according principle of form reduction and period of gradual abstraction and compression of volumes.
1957 Begun to work on the cycles of Polyvalent Forms and Leafed Forms. With this cycles Bakić has made a step further towards reduction of figuration and thus starting to explore the autonomous sculptural forms.
1960 – 1961 Exhibitions in Gallery Drian in London and Denise René Gallery in Paris, where he exhibited with Picelj and Srnec.
1963 Bakić was exhibiting at the international exhibition New Tendencies 2 in the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. His famous Light Forms were executed the same year. They were made of modulations of the identical mirror units, so the sculpture was equally created of forms, shapes and light reflections.
1969 and 1973 Bakić has exhibited on New Tendencies exhibitions.