Artworks in the Collection

Caryatid (1931)

One of the caryatids that Stijović carved in wood from 1930, and one of his best sculptures, it is the only one from that series which has constantly been on public display since 1961. “I gave that caryatid to Josić [Mladen] as soon as I made it”, he once said. Beljanski bought it immediately after the war. It was exhibited at the XXV Biennale in Venice in 1952, when the author dated this sculpture to 1931. In spite of the unreliability of human memory, this year has been accepted as the time of its creation. All the characteristics of Stijović’s sculpture are concentrated in this nude female figure: a synthetic form made up of stylized shapes, the merely hinted anatomy and surfaces polished to perfection, simultaneously reflecting the author’s skill in following the particular form of wood, but also in respecting the nature of the material. An advocate of the female body as a source of inspiration, the sculptor, revealing through sculpting the imagined form hidden under the layers of wood, gave the sculpture a rounded appearance with soft, fluid lines, and was able in the process to preserve the solidity of form and remain true to the idea of full form. Although not interested in depicting movement, which is implied by the very name of the sculpture, with this particular Caryatid, Stijović showed an unusual interest in depicting a body stopped in motion, as if performing some rhythmic movements or a soundless dance; this figure gains an additional dimension due to the light which does not rest even for a second, changing instead with every shift in the observer’s viewpoint, as if flowing down the refined curves of the nude. The sculptor himself said that in the case of the Caryatid he had, as usual, made three sketches: from the profile, from the back and from the front. The ballerina, Sonja Stanisavljević, friend of Nataša Bošković, posed for him and according to Stijović’s reminiscences from 1970, she was “the most beautiful young woman in Belgrade. I don’t know, if I have ever seen a more perfect creature, someone as beautiful as she was.”

Risto Stijović