Artists in the Collection

Nadežda Petrović
(Čačak, 11 October 1873 – Valjevo, 3 April 1915)


After attending drawing classes in Belgrade, “the first Serbian female painter in the late 19th and early 20th century” continued her studies in Munich (1898–1903). Open to the ambivalent artistic aspirations of the Secession and preferring to work in nature, receptive to the vital currents of great art, she accepts colour as the dominant factor in expression, and expression as the foundation of her visual language. Paris (1910–1912) enriched her technique
with the colourism of Gauguin’s and Fauvist poetics. The kind of painting, never before seen in Serbia, where colour assumed an independent expressive value, made it difficult for Nadežda Petrović to win the favour of the artistically uneducated environment. She is present in Belgrade public life and along with her job as a teacher she writes reviews,
organizes exhibitions and artists’ colonies, stirs up the patriotic spirit, takes part in wars, travels and paints. Developing as a painter from Belgrade, through Munich and to Paris, she depicts her time and its artistic currents through a unique experience of nature incorporated into an unbroken path of development in four periods which can be further divided into their own stages: the Munich period (1898–1903), characterized by building up a personal style through mastering art, expression through colour and swift, broad strokes and a passion for landscapes; the Serbian period (1903–1910),
where the landscape and man remain the prevalent theme, and where Nadežda Petrović joins European avant-garde currents through her colouristic expressionism; the Paris period (1910–1912), where she achieves a synthesis of the expressionist-fauvist poetics and a specific technique where the emphasized facture determines the proximity and dynamics of the painted masses, confined by the forms of the depicted objects. During the war years (1914–1915) her painted vision is embodied in colour and matter, the reduction and emphatic intensity of the palette: red, yellow, green, violet and white. Revolutionary in its time, reaching true artistic heights, her painting with its avant-garde character is incorporated into the very roots of Serbian Modernism and it elevated Nadežda Petrović into a leading figure in
Serbian Modernism, whose significance surpasses local boundaries and belongs to the general artistic trends of the period.