Artworks in the Collection

Gypsy Woman (1935)

The naked body, just like the face, reveals the entire inner world of a person, its character, personal history, self-awareness, since the shape and the posture of the body, the look, speech and gestures create a person’s expressiveness and represent a means of communication. Within the Christian tradition, the depiction of the naked body had a symbolic role of the revelation of the forbidden in testing the traditional truths, confronting the social norms, and the affirmation of the individual. Between 1925 and 1937 Zora Petrović painted the nudes of young women, with slender, muscular bodies which she later placed in a real, although vaguely represented space of her studio. In a text published in Pravda in 1937, reflecting upon the expressiveness of the characters in the paintings, Đorđe Popović wrote: “Zora Petrović’s girls and women do not attract us with their flattering curves, ‘beauty’ or health; no – they are human animals, warm and dark, some with an earthy complexion, they awaken exotic feelings with their sensual voluptuousness and animalism. Bewildered, indifferent or beckoning looks carry the burden of their own sensuality.” Along with the “expressive burden of their own tireless passion”, the characters in her paintings such as the Gypsy Woman also show that in her vision as a painter, she preferred models who were unsophisticated, instinctive people in whose simple emotions she saw the original, primal human being both in the anthropological and the philosophical sense of the word, and in whom she discovered the regained unity of human being and nature. She depicted her models almost life-size, transferring her expression into the painting by utilizing her entire body, with strokes originating from the shoulder and not just by fine movements of her wrist.

Zora Petrović