Artworks in the Collection

Owl (1934)

One of the most popular and most frequently repeated animal motifs characteristic of Stijović, the Owl was made in several copies, in different kinds of marble, as well as in bronze. Simplified in form, with details which fit into a uniquely conceived volume, the figure of this nocturnal bird is almost devoid of indentation on the surface so that the light is sliding along the almost monolithic and smooth body. It is a representative sample which is indicative of Stijović’s understanding of sculpture as a firm plastic shape, as an extremely reduced and purified form – synthesized essence directly transferred into stone. Although small in size, due to the stylized, smooth lines and simple curves which appear to emanate from the stone, as well as to the closed form whose inner energy maintains their vitality, the Owl leaves an impression of monumentality possessed by the megalithic granite figures of ancient Egypt. This approach probably represents a direct response to the impressions evoked in Stijović by the ancient Egyptian pieces on permanent display in the Louvre; his interest in Egypt at the time was undoubtedly also encouraged by the sensational discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb unearthed in 1922 in the Valley of Kings. A movement frozen in timelessness, a petrified pose which suits the owl more than any other denizen of the bird kingdom, received its life-force due to the contrast between the exquisitely polished dark stone surface of the sculpture itself with its clear lines and the rough-hewn amorphous base. This replica of the sculpture (one of several) was made for Beljanski after Stijović’s exhibition in 1951.

Risto Stijović