Artists in the Collection

Kosta Miličević
(Vraka near Skadar, 3 June 1877 – Belgrade, 12 February 1920)


After his elementary education in Cyril Kutlik’s Serbian Drawing and Painting School in Belgrade (1895–1898) and a short period spent in the Heinrich Strehblow’s Vienna studio, Kosta Miličević’s freelance studies in Munich (1901/02) must also be mentioned. It was there that, along with Borivoje Stevanović, he became acquainted with the existing
conflict between the academic concept and the secessionist freedom. From his return to Belgrade until 1910, he spent his time as an informal student in Rista and Beta Vukanović’s Arts and Crafts School. He was accepted into the Society “Lada” in 1910, about the same time when his famous Self-Portrait was created. The essential characteristic of this period is the painter’s vacillation between museum teachings which he held dear and modern visual expression. The period between 1910 and 1914, when he went to war, belongs to motifs from the Savina churches and to impressionistic portraits. Displaying an almost tachist love for spots of paint, he had by then already created an original signature of his own, a short, square stroke, and a resounding harmony of colour tones, put together in a mosaiclike
manner (Spring at the Savina Church, Boy with White Hat, both from 1913). During a short break in 1915, a small series of landscapes from Veles (Macedonia) were painted, which, along with his first landscapes from Corfu from 1916/17, represent the height of Miličević’s artistic work. In them he deliberately gave up analyzing details in nature in favour of the arrangement and organization of pure visual elements. Finally, his last landscapes from Corfu, painted in the summer of 1918, clearly show the victory of blue orchestrations of the ethereal climate of the Ionian Sea over earlier contrasts of green and ochre of the lyrical continental sceneries. Paintings created during a short creative period
clearly determined Kosta Miličević’s place in Serbian art: he was the most significant representative of impressionist painting in these region when this movement represented a new, revitalizing phenomenon in Serbian painting. In addition, Miličević is a precursor to Serbian intimists and painters of poetic realism between the two world wars, components which were to play a significant role in the birth of the Belgrade colouristic school.