Marijan Trepse Gallery

Marijan Trepše Slikarstvo

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Marijan Trepše Slikarstvo

Marijan Trepše (Trepse) was born in Zagreb on 25 March 1887. He attended the High School for Arts Crafts in Zagreb (1914–1918), where he studied under Bela Čikoš Sesija. His studies continued at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague with Max Švabinský, then from 1920 to 1922, in Paris, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

From 1919, Marijan Trepše exhibited his work at the Zagreb Spring Salon, and later as part of the Group of Four (Gecan, Trepše, Uzelac, Varlaj). In 1926 he was awarded a gold medal for art in an international exhibition in Philadelphia.

From 1925 until his retirement in 1956 he worked as a set designer at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, and between 1926 and 1931 he taught at the National Crafts School in Zagreb. From 1950, he worked with the Zadar and Zagreb Puppet Theatres.

Trepše is one of those artists who achieved his best work in his youth. Although Trepše was educated at the Zagreb Academy of Bela Čikoš Sesija, his early work shows no traces of the Art Nouveau and Symbolism of his teacher. After graduating from Zagreb, in the autumn of 1918 he moved to Prague, where Milivoj Uzelac had been since 1915. Vladimir Varlaj and Vilko Gecan also arrived in Prague, meeting up with Ivo Režek and Frano Kršinić to make the city an important reference for Croatian modern art. From there, they picked up the new ideas of secessionism and expressionism, which they brought back to Croatian art.

An important influence on Trepše and his contemporaries was the artist Miroslav Kraljević, who had died in 1913, aged only 27. While Kraljević had depicted wealthy gentlemen in the company of courtesans in Paris, Trepše and his fellow artists in Prague showed working people. A typical scene in Trepše’s paintings had sombre men in hats sitting around a wooden table in a bar, playing cards and drinking, some fallen asleep where they sat. The place is obscurely lit, full of smoke, and there is usually just one woman in the company.

A large retrospective exhibit of his works opened in 2010 in the Art Pavilion, Zagreb. It included works in oils, watercolour and prints, as well as some of his original designs for theatre sets. More comprehensive than the previous retrospective held at the same venue in 1975, the exhibit provided the opportunity for a new reading of Trepše’s work. In fact, much of his work was not generally known to the public, and this was the first showing for some of his best works. According to the art historian Zvonko Matković, who was responsible for organizing the exhibit, Marijan Trepše belongs among the most important Croatian artists of the first half of the 20th century. He was one of those who revived the style of Miroslav Kraljević, and took it closer to expressionism. Together with his contemporaries (Uzelac, Gecan and Varlaj) he brought important changes to the Spring Salon, a key part of the development of art in Croatia between the World wars.

Trepše’s output was diverse. He is considered one of the best graphic artists in the years immediately after World War I. In the early 1920s in Paris, classicist tendencies had emerged, with the rounded solid forms which can be seen in much of Trepše’s art. Derain and Picasso were important references of the time. In the mid-1920s Trepše began to work in stained glass for which he received many commissions. His most important work Calvary (Golgota), which in 1935 was placed in the chapel of the suffering of Jesus (Trpećeg Isusa) in Zagreb. In 1925 he began work at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, at a time when set design was developing in exciting new directions.

Theatrical set designs
Sets and costumes for National Theatre productions, including

During his lifetime, Marijan Trepše exhibited in the Zagreb Spring Salon, and with the Group of Four.

Solo exhibitions
Recent exhibitions of his work include:

2010-2011 Marijan Trepše retrospektiva, Art Pavilion Zagreb
1975 Marijan Trepše – Art Pavilion, Zagreb
Group exhibitions
1997 Realism of the 1920s: Magic, Classic, Objective in Croatian Art. ArTresor Studio, Zagreb
1980 Expressionism and Croatian Art, Art Pavilion Zagreb

Marijan Trepše’s work can be found in the following public collections


Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb
Gallery of Fine Arts, Split
Gallery of Fine Arts, Osijek
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka


Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade


Marijan Trepše (Zagreb 1897 – l964) is one of the key figures of Croatian art of the 20th century; his talent was very early on confirmed in the exhibitions of the Spring Salon in the period from 1920 to 1928. Together with Gecan, Uzelac and Varlaj, with whom he was later to constitute the Group of Four, Trepše represents the link through which the painting of Kraljević’s Expressionism would be brought closer to the current style. Trepše’s style moves from Expressionist mobility and classicist inspiration to openness of colour and freedom of gesture, while on the thematic side, along with scenes of a social character and works inspired by Biblical motifs, there are his characteristic subject, girls in interiors. After 1933, the painter turned his attention more often to nature, and a series of landscapes from the neighbourhood of Zagreb and motifs from the south were created. The exhibition will show works done in oils and superb productions in watercolour as well as prints with some of the features of Cubism. For decades, Trepše was involved in set design for the theatre, creating a very high quality oeuvre in this domain, and the originals for projects that were implemented will be an integral part of this retrospective exhibition. A considerably number of pictures were not shown at the last Trepše retrospective, in 1975, which means that the present exhibition will provide an occasion for a new reading of this great painter.

Marijan Trepše, retrospective, Art Pavilion, November 2010 – January 2011

Worlds according to Trepše

Fedja Gavrilovic

The retrospective of Marijan Trepše in the Art Pavilion completes the earlier exhibitions of Varlaj, Gecan and Uzelac, our Prague quartet. Trepše’s work betrays the influences of expressionism and cubism, but also of magical realism and motifs and painting poetics of Miroslav Kraljević

At a time when the south reluctantly leaves the Zagreb sky to the ruthless north, when rains and colds herald winter, and gray fog and moisture seep into every pore of the body, every crack in seemingly solid buildings, an exhibition of painters opens. atmosphere of universal defeat, Marijan Trepše. If we look at his watercolor Golgotha , we may remember Krleža’s play of the same name, which uses this biblical episode as a metaphor for the interwar labor movement. The atmosphere of lead-gray cloudy skies, dark green hills of human bodies of greenish incarnation (bodies crucified and crucified), which with their curvature suggest torment, remind us of El Greco’s artistic expression ( Laokon , Toledo in the storm)), which radiates anxiety and a strong sense of human loss. Trepše’s (as well as Krleža’s) Golgotha carries the message of the meaninglessness of life, universal suffering and inevitable death, which is so close to us in these early winter days, when we are surrounded by cold winds, low skies and bare branches of trees. The timelessness of this image is manifested precisely in the fact that it can still awaken these feelings today, that they are not just a product of the so-called expressionist spirit of the time , which would (by some school definition) imply a dark attitude towards life.

Portrait of a boy w aka , 1920th

The art scene of Zagreb between the two wars was marked by new realisms , which are a domestic echo of the German new reality , that is, the French (Picasso) return to order . Among the most important Croatian painters of this period is the powder d quad , that is, four Croatian artists who have art education gained in the Czech capital: Marijan Trepše, Milivoj Uzelac, Vladimir Varlaj and Vilko Gecan. Marijan is Trepše held a retrospective in the same area in 1975. In recent history powder d quadit has been presented in individual retrospective exhibitions, also in the Art Pavilion: Vladimir Varlaj, 1992–93; Vilka Gecana, 2005; Milivoj Uzelac, 2008–09, so that the repeated retrospective of Trepše makes sense because it introduces younger generations to his works and is part of the obvious cycle of the Prague Four in the Art Pavilion in recent years.

Prague cross section

Of all the members of F quads Trepše is largely assimilated procedures avant-garde movements expressionism and cubism. At the beginning of the century, Prague was an important intersection of Central European and Western European (French) avant-garde influences, where Cubism, Expressionism and Neoclassicism met. The influences of Cubism in Trepše can be seen in several graphic sheets in which the scene builds entirely from polygonal surfaces, without attempting to conjure up the traditional painterly illusion of depth (especially the graphics of the early twenties). Trepše absorbed Cubism from its Czech current, very active as early as the beginning of the 20th century, whose works he could become acquainted with while studying in Prague.

Golgotha , 1920

A rich graphic opus, which includes scenes from metropolitan life, as well as illustrations of fantastic tales is on display in the central room of the pavilion. There are also exhibited designs for scenography, a selection from the rich opus of the artist for whom the theater in Zagreb was the employer for almost the entire working life. Trepše’s drawing skills enabled him to articulate the architecture of the scene well, while his knowledge of the character of colors contributed to the overall sensation provided by his scenographies, which is all evident in the examples on display. In the rich scenographic opus of Trepša, he successfully portrayed backgrounds of dramas, operas and ballets with legendary or ancient themes (Papandopulo’s Amfitron ) and in modern times, the urban exterior in the play Johnny plays by Ernest Kernek).

Woman with ma è piece , in 1931.

As a graphic artist, Trepše, in addition to the already mentioned cubist experiments, was greatly influenced by Central European Expressionism. This is evident in the motifs of cabaret, fights and murders in taverns, the sheets on which the actors are elongated, the space only roughly indicated similarly as on the canvases and graphic sheets of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. However, as the author of the exhibition Zvonko Maković notes in the text of the catalog, expressionism entered Croatian painting (the Prague Four) through secondary sources, primarily German silent film, because: into spaces that fake depth, which, even if not constructed by the rules of traditional perspective, rarely accept flatness as a fundamental principle of the image ”.

Color and volume

Among the influences that do not belong to the canon of expressionism, which Trepše carried through the tonalities of that style, Miroslav Kraljević should certainly be mentioned. For almost half a century, the Munich school has been the main reference point for everyone who wanted to paint in Croatia, especially in Zagreb. The muted, grayish color, as well as a good knowledge of the character of colors and their effects in creating a painting scene are the characteristics of the Munich people, which Trepša inherits. We will only mention his long-recognized resemblance to Kraljević’s main motives (cafes, prostitutes, caricaturing citizenship, only, as Maković again observes, these scenes take place in socially lower circles than in Kraljević).

Simple expressionist compositions of graphic sheets and some canvases (especially the early U kavana) were transferred to Trepše in volume painting. It is about new realism, a trend of the 1920s, in which painting, after giving up mimesis in the avant-garde period, returns to depicting reality. But this painting is not a realistic reflection of reality, but transposes it into a series of volumes, shaded so as to suggest spatiality. Human figures are usually large, and despite the realism of the image, due to painting in shadow volumes (actually surfaces, because the volume in the image can only exist as an illusion in juxtaposing surfaces of different shapes), one gets the impression of unusual flatness or sharp edges. that phase of painting with a more important element than color, which had an advantage in the earlier impressionist and expressionist stage. Due to the unusual impression that these images provide, this style is also called magical realism .

Trepše (like his Prague colleague Varlaj) also gave importance to color in this more linear (by no means exclusively linear) style. When painting in volumes , it gives large, lapidarily painted limbs, jugs, fruit often very intense colors. For example, red blouses or skirts on portraits of workers and peasant women or red carnations spilling on the lapel of Krleža’s portrait, whose face is smooth as a mask and completely expressionless and distant. According to the thirties of the last century Trepše explores earthy tones, shades of ocher, which shows the great richness and intensity of a series of interior display (such as the famous painting Woman with ma è pcsfrom the Zagreb Modern Gallery), and the splendor of the tones of that color is very nicely shown on the dress of the Lady with a fan .

As a portraitist Trepše had to give up the reduction that accompanies painting faces in his nudes to provide physiognomic resemblance to the model, so in intense palette images images Woman in interior or Portrait of Mary Šipuš , the first of which more reserves flatbed way the new reality , and the other is more traditional in tonal volume construction. Towards the end of his career, Trepša continued to explore color in his already mature style, but after the 1930s his paintings did not stand out in importance or expressive power, as the works created in the era of Expressionism and the new reality stood out .


Croatian Artist Marijan Trepše Painting
Croatian Artist Marijan Trepše Painting

View Marijan Trepse Paintings