Emanuel Vidović, 1870 – 1963
Works kept in the Gallery of Fine Arts
Klovićevi dvori Gallery, Zagreb, April 2001
“… Vidović’s part in the development of Croatian modern art has long been underestimated. Looking back in order to find a historical framework of art development, our critics failed to properly evaluate the excellence and the significance of his art. Rooted in Split and unconditionally devoted to his work, Vidović retained a sense of proportion both in his art and life. He carefully guarded his canvas against any ideology. Unselfish and responsible only to himself, he didn’t consent to inartistic dictates and political games (He wasn’t there at the pavilion of the Kingdom of Serbia in Rome in 1911 to join Medulić group and its fighting spirit, and in 1942 he resolutely refused all the invitations from Italy to exhbiti there). Partly for being ignorant of the facts (work), and partly for the critics prejudice, the evident truth was overlooked that Emanuel Vidović was the first to consciously and consistently abandon the academic conventionalism focusing on the research of an autonomous artistic expression. However, a unique generation of Croatian artists who gathered in Munich in the early twentieth century overshadowed all others by their artistic message as well as Račić’s and Kraljević’s tragic fate. Račić, Kraljević, Becić and Herman became the pioneers of our modernism and ‘a stepping-off point for the generations to come’ (Lj. Babić). Igor Zidić has been the first to properly evaluate both Vidović’s work in its entirety and its context taking a different approach and giving a meticulous insight into his work. He came to a well-argumented conclusion that Vidović sparked off Croatian artistic modernism in chronological and stylistic terms. It is important to point out that his pioneering role hasn’t exhausted his significance. From his impressions from Chioggia at the beginning to his Trogir reminiscences in the end the work of Emanuel Vidović stands out as one of the most important parts of Croatian modern painting.”
Božo Majstorović, from the exhibition catalogue
Emanuel Vidović was instrumental in bringing the modern art ideas to Split. From 1900 he was an active member of the Literary-Art Club, and in 1907, together with Ivan Meštrović, he founded the Medulić Society. Though he had trained at the Academy of Arts inVenice, he never completed his formal studies, preferring instead to paint scenes of Venice - interiors, views of canals, lagoons and motifs from around the town of Chioggia. In 1898, he returned to his home city of Split, bringing new ideas of post-impressionist style light and intense colour. He painted plein air landscapes, and more stylized, larger canvases back in his studio. His early work contained literary allusions to South Slavic history and legends, in an art nouveau style. Later work would become darker, with brighter accents, and expressionist style black outlines around forms. His landscapes, and especially his later interiors of churches around Split and Trogir were well received by critics and the public.
Vidović was elected a corresponding member of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1949. He exhibited his work at solo and group shows within Croatia and abroad. For many years he was Professor of Drawing at the High School, and at the School of Crafts in Split.
In 1986, the Emanuel Vidović Gallery was opened in Split, featuring the life and works of the artist.