Artists in the Collection

Risto Stijović
(Podgorica, 20 October 1894 – Titograd, 20 December 1974)

In the course of two long periods, the Parisian, which encompassed almost two decades and the Belgrade period, which lasted from 1928 to the end of the sculptor’s life, Risto Stijović remained faithful to himself and his words: “What I did back then, is what I do now, what I have always done, continuously.” His devotion to certain themes – the nude
female figure and face, animals, characters from The Mountain Wreath and finally the portrait, represent a constant in Stijović’s work. His technique of sculpting in wood, in different types of high-quality wood or in marble, along with his inclination towards an intimate format, set him apart from other contemporary sculptors. Only in his mature age, after 1956, did he create sculptures of monumental proportions; owing to that, Stijović’s work took on an essentially new dimension. An admirer of François Pompon and Jean Bernard sculpting and friend to Branislav Dešković and Đorđe Jovanović Đukin, Modigliani and Chana Orloff, Lipchitz and Ossip Zadkine, he based his expression on the reduction
of ancient Egyptian, Cambodian and Assyrian sculptures, the plastic expressiveness of Gauguin’s reliefs, the striving towards synthesis as well as the reminiscences of Art Nouveau, and the process of emotional and not rational compression. In the 1920s, more than any other artist from these parts, he had the support of the Parisian critics who singled out the “imaginativeness of his inventiveness” which “strives towards the very being of the sculpture itself”. Faithful to the same coordinates of his creative technique, based on his personal concept of sculptural poetics, he consistently implemented a synthesized shape of closed form and smooth surface, revealing a powerful inner energy trapped in the volume of the high-quality wood or stone. Always aware of his limitations, but also of his own exceptionality, he appeared in the Serbian sculpture of the thirties marking a stage of the “second modern” and later on, at the beginning of the sixties, he linked the tendencies of liberated art with the experiences and avant-garde occurrences of the 1920s and so became a mark of continuity which made the integration of a young generation of sculptors into existing Serbian currents possible.