Artworks in the Collection

Little Milan (1951)

Although he was not a portraitist, Gvozdenović did a large number of self-portraits and portraits, especially drawings and watercolours, and most of them by the nineteen-fifties. There were almost no portraits in oil, which makes the painting Little Milan all the more precious. In the period when Gvozdenović was opening new paths for his artistic vision, he still did not abandon some of the motifs dear to him. It was the portrait of the boy, Milan, along with his
Self-portrait from 1950 that showed, at this turning point, that the artist still treated the face as a special symbol of visual perception. Given his close friendship with Pavle Beljanski, especially during and immediately after World War II, Gvozdenović was a frequent guest in his home. During those visits, the artist undoubtedly had the opportunity to watch the grandson of Pavle Beljanski’s sister, Milan, play. Reacting as an artist would, he sketched the changes on the
child’s face which were brought about by growing up and changing moods. Apart from the series of sketches, another result of the time the boy and the artist spent together was the portrait of Milan Isaković, entitled Little Milan. The firm volume of the head, with a reduced chromatic range, accentuated dark eyes and disheveled hair rendered through tone values, emerge from the dark, undefined background. The geometry of the painting is emphasized by the triangular torso painted in broad, light brushstrokes suggesting the shirt. The boy is obviously depicted while eating (when children are most obedient models), which is shown by the two dark crossed areas against the restless white, tied behind the neck, probably a child’s bib. It is assumed that the painter donated the portrait and that Beljanski included it in his collection as a prized possession.

Nedeljko Gvozdenović