Artworks in the Collection

Aleksandar KUMRIĆ
Belgrade Fortress (1942)


Kumrić painted the Belgrade Fortress outdoors on a quiet summer afternoon during the Second World War, as a modernist parkland scene with a diagonal composition scheme. He saw the fortress not only as a dominant architectural massif, nor just a historical or symbolic motif (a century-long resistance to sieges, the key to the defense of Europe), but as a comprehensive organic whole, rising from the natural, hilly eminence at the estuary – a combination of history and nature, the discreet irony of the ancient walls which seem to have been “growing” out of the ground for centuries. The windows and arcades of the fortress have counterparts in the new architecture of the upper structure, built in the style of folklore architecture. The spire of the fortress with the tower which has an added wooden viewing platform, is a mild point of the mass of the form which gradually descends towards the left edge of the
painting, which has a classical composition, with an expertly-selected element of an “accidental cutout.” Produced in the tradition of postimpressionist techniques, the painting possesses the lyrical values of intimistic style. Belgrade Fortress offers layered associations with the numerous historical nicknames of the city: The Hill for Thinking, The Home of Wars, The Door to the East, The Gate to the West. Owing to his painting technique, Kumrić was able to record
in the right way the immanent contrasts accumulated during the history of the Belgrade fortress: the meditative atmosphere of the moment as testament to persistent existence, eighteen centuries of construction, flourishing, pillaging, destruction and the redefining of borders, from the Orient to Central Europe, and back.

Aleksandar Kumrić