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Marijan Kocković

(MAHR-ee-yahn KOTS-koh-vich)

Birthplace: Zagreb, Croatia

Heritage: Croatian

Date born: July 23rd, 1923

Date of death: May 30th, 1991

Education: Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb [1950 - did not graduate], Academy of Fine Arts, Ljubljana [1952]

Biography

Born to school teachers Olga and Stjepan in 1923 in Zagreb, Croatia (what was then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), Marijan Kocković was the youngest of seven siblings. However, his father passed away before he was born, so he was mostly raised by his mother. He did his primary and secondary education in Zageb at the school where his mother taught. Though, just as Kocković's schooling was completed, war broke out across the region in 1941 as the conflicts of WWII consumed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1942 he enlisted in the Partisan movement at the age of 19, slowly working his way up to the rank of 'political commissar' with one of the battalions of the 13th Proletariat Brigade. Interestingly, Kocković actually met Marshal Tito as a young Partisan soldier while in a field hospital in Croatia while Tito was visiting wounded fighters. As such, this meeting left Kocković with a strong attachment to Tito and the Partisan movement. By the end of WWII, Kocković had reached the rank of camptain and had been wounded twice.

After the war, Kocković served time in the Yugoslav Navy in Split. While stationed in that city, he was inspired by Split sculptor Ivan Mirković. As a result, in his late 20s he was granted a scholarship by the Navy to study with the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. There he trained under famous Croatian academic sculptors Frano Kršinić and Grga Antunac, learning the traditional figurative form of sculpture in realist style. Kocković was so accomplished in his schooling that, as a student, he won a design competition for the "Monument to Fallen Fighters" in the city center of Sisak, Croatia, which was built in 1949. However, despite this early success, the commitment to completing his Sisak project resulted in Kocković neglecting portions of his academic obligations, and as a result, he was dismissed from the Zagreb's Academy of Fine Arts in 1950 for "disrespecting the student procedure". Kocković then transfered to Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he studied under professors Karel Putrich and Peter Loboda. He graduated in 1952.

In 1953 Kocković began his tenure working as a professor of sculpture and history of art at the University of Sarajevo. During this time in Bosnia in the 1950s, Kocković went on to create several memorial sculptures across that region in the traditional figurative style, such as his works at Gacko and Vareš. Then, in the early and mid 1960s, he began to experiment with more non-traditional styles of figurative memorial sculpture, for example, exhibited in his works at Novi Grad (Bosanski Novi) and at Visoko. Also during this time he experimented with making small wooden totem sculptures reminiscent of native art. In 1961 Kocković created a monument to Anton Bučković in Rovinj which consisted of an angular head roughly hewn from stone which was very similar in spirit to the work he was creating in his small totem sculptures. This was the only monument in this unique style which he created.

In 1966 Kocković moved from Sarajevo to Dubrovnik, where he would spend the rest of his professional career. From Dubrovnik he continued to work in the domain of competiting in NOB monument competitions, with most of the works he created continuing to be in Bosnia, despite his new sea-side locale. Through winning these monument competitions, Kocković created some of his best known works in Bosnia, such as his memorial sculptures at Drvar, at Rama Dam and at Jasenica, which, at this point, were all in a decidedly modernist style. Also during this time that it was here in Dubrovnik that Kocković began expanding his artistic interests into the realm of creating abstract tapestries (Photo 1), while also applying himself to the discipline of interior design (such as at the Babin Kuk Hotel in Dubrovnik). Meanwhile, much of the private sculptural work he labored on was small stone and bronze busts, as well as studies on the female form. It is also interesting to note that Kocković remained a close acquaintence of Josip Broz Tito, hosting him on several occasions at his studio in Dubrovnik, while some sources even cite Kocković as being Tito's 'favorite artist'.

Photo 1: A tapestry by Kocković

Photo 2: 'Crna perla' sculpture, 1970s

Meanwhile, Kocković developed a relationship with several American institutions in the early 1970s, which led him to travel there to work for several months out of each year. Furthermore, he starts hosting summer school programs in sculpture at his Dubrovnik studio for the American university Hope College, located in Holland, Michigan. During his time in America, many sources recount his popularity within the celebrity community, which resulted in him doing sculptural portraits of several well known icons, including Yul Brynner, Sophia Loren and Armand Hammer. Also in the 1970s, Kocković created what were some of his most recognizable private sculptural works, which were a series of stone carved busts of African faces (Photo 2). Meanwhile, in 1975, at the age of 52, he married Slobodanka Đokić, with whom he had two sons, Maro and Nevan. In his later life, Kocković again expanded his artistic range by exploring the art of poetry, publishing several books of verse on various topics, with one about his war memories titled "With Your Name", and another composed of love poems and romantic musings, which was titled "About a Woman from the Heart & Chisel". As far as his monumental work, through the 1970s and early 80s, his work had become increasingly geometric and centered around studies of shape and texture, such as his work at Jajce and Jasenica, as well as the "Daisy for Tito" memorial fountain he created in Zagreb in 1982 to honor the passing of Tito.

In the early 1980s, Kocković's wife Slobodanka began a long arduous battle with cancer. On May 29th 1991, she finally succumb to this affliction after years of struggle, which was followed by Kocković committing suicide the very next day on May 30th. He was 67 years old.

 

Over his 45 year career, Kocković created hundreds of sculptures, tapestries, and other works of art, including almost two dozen monumental works spread across the former Yugoslavia. Having died in 1991, Kocković did not live long enough to see many of his monumental works damaged and destroyed in the conflicts resulting from the break-up of Yugoslavia, which included his works at Drvar, Jasenica and Ljubuški. In addition, Kocković's artistic legacy was largely forgotten and marginalized during the post-Yugoslav era in Croatia and Bosnia, possibly because of both his closeness with Tito and his efforts in championing Yugoslav ideals. However, in 2006, his sons Maro and Neven reopened his Dubrovnik studio to the public, now call "Marijan Gallery", where a large retrospective of Kocković's's artistic work was held. The studio/gallery can still be visited today, with the official website found at THIS link and its exact coordinates being N42°39'24.8", E18°04'09.7".

Works by this Designer:

This is a listing of a number of memorials, monuments, cultural centers and other notable Yugoslav-era civic works by Marijan Kocković. Those sites listed in the upper part of this section have profile pages, while those listed in the lower part do not yet have completed profile pages. This list is not exhaustive and will be added to over time.

Works with profile pages:

Click photos to go to page

Drvar, BiH

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1967, destroyed 1996

Jasenica, BiH

IMG_20170320_151813.jpg

Name: Podgrmeč Memorial Fountain

Year: completed 1979, ruined in 1990s

Sisak, HR

Name: Monument to Fall Fighters

Year: completed 1949

Prijedor, BiH

Name: Partisan Graveyard

Year: completed 1960

Rama Dam, BiH

Hidroelektrana Rama - Bosnia, Marijan ko

Name: Mon. to Partisan Victory at Rama

Year: completed 1968

Ploče, HR

Name: Revolution Park

Year: completed 1976

Works without profile pages:

Jajce, BiH

Name: Mon. to Liberators & Fighters of Jajce

Year: completed 1972

Location: N44°20'19.5", E17°16'12.0"

Visoko, BiH

Name: Monument to Brotherhood & Unity

Year: completed 1963

Location: N43°59'27.9", E18°10'56.5"

Zagreb, HR

Name: "A Daisy for Tito" Memorial Fountain

Year: completed 1982, restored 2018

Location: N45°48'01.0", E15°59'14.8"

Gacko, BiH

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1955

Location: N43°09'53.7", E18°32'17.6"

Rovinj, HR

Name: Monument to Anton Bučković

Year: completed 1961

Location: N45°04'53.7", E13°38'03.9"

Vareš, BiH

Name: Mon. to Construction of Vareš Mine

Year: completed 1958

Location: N44°09'26.7", E18°19'28.2"

Novi Grad, BiH

Name: 'Partisan Mother'

Year: completed 1964

Location: N45°02'53.2", E16°22'46.5"

Rovinj, HR

Name: "The Boy with Fish" Fountain

Year: completed 1959

Location: N45°04'54.8", E13°38'04.1"

Ljubuški, BiH

Name: Monument to Freedom

Year: completed 1958, destroyed 1990s?

Former location: N43°11'45.9", E17°32'42.5"