Artworks in the Collection

Head of a Boy (1956)

Just as she painted the images of grown-up people without prejudice and without moral reprimands, she wanted to reach the deepest part of a person’s being by depicting the human face and body, Zora Petrović painted children with the same passion for truth. Like the images of peasant women, gypsy women and laundresses, her images of children represented in her art the ideas of originality and social innocence; and demonstrated the anthropological dimension of human existence, since children do not consciously belong to any social class and they still have no permanent role in the system of social relationships. While her portraits of peasant women are characterized by details such as a suspicious look or the position of the legs of a model unaccustomed to posing, with innocence and confusion, cunningness or unease manifest, she accurately recorded fear, sadness and loneliness in portraits of children. The face of Zora’s cousin, Žarko, on the verge of tears, is constricted by the verticals of the canvas’s narrow format, which seems to represent the only support available to the child whose whole world is about to come tumbling down. The sharp contrast between the crimson of the boy’s shirt and the dark yellow – almost orange of the background, emphasizes his grayish-white face in an unpleasant way. The carmine of the clothes was also used to paint his full, passively drooping lips, it was used to underline the eyelids; in a lighter form it can also be found in the rings around the boy’s eyes, it emerges from the contour line around the ears and around the greenish-blue painted hair, always emphasizing the unhealthy grayness of the soft tissues as well as some kind of inner weakness.

Zora Petrović