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Stevan Luketić

(STEE-vahn LOO-keh-tich)

Birthplace: Budva, Montenegro

Heritage: Montenegrin

Date born: November 28th, 1925

Date of death: October 1st, 2002

Education: Academy of Fine Arts, Zageb [1955]

Biography

Stevan Luketić was born to affluent parents, Luka and Draginja, in the present-day Adriatic town of Budva, Montenegro in 1925 (which at that time was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). He did his early schooling under the supervision of Orthdox priests in Budva and Kotor, however, his schooling was interrupted when war came to the region in 1941. Then aged 16 years old, Luketić joined the fight with the local anti-fascists against the occupying Italians as the war began, however, he was soon captured and placed in a POW camp, first in Bar but was later transfered to Bari, Italy. After being released upon the Italian capitulation in 1943, Luketić returned to Montenegro and then joined up with the Partisans. With the Partisans he fought through Bosnia and Serbia, while eventually finding himself faced with the violent confrontation at the Sremski Front during phases of the WWII, at which point he was wounded in the leg. He was considered a fine soldier by his peers for his WWII service, even so much as to be awarded a medal for courage. Then, after the immediate end of WWII, Luketić went on to serve as a JNA captain stationed at Zone B of the Trieste Free Territory until 1949.

In 1950 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where he opted to study sculpture under famous Croatian sculptor Frano Kršinić. Then, in 1952, notable sculptor Vojin Bakić [profile page], who was himself an established sculptor and creator of numerous Yugoslav memorial works at that point, invited Stevan Luketić to work with him at his studio as a collaborator. Luketić and Bakić worked together in this arrangement for 5 years (even after Luketić 's 1955 graduation from the Fine Art Academy), with them becoming not only close artistic colleagues, but also close friends. Like Bakić, Luketić chose metal as the primary medium through which he would express his work. And through that, Bakić encouraged him to spend time not just in the art studio, but also training as a blacksmith and welder at the same time, skills which Bakić felt would help aid Luketić in crafting the fine detail needed for expressive metal sculptures. Not only that, but Bakić had a tremendous influence on Luketić's sculptural style, with much of Luketić's work (especially his memorial work) using similar methods of employing polished stainless steel or aluminum configured in sharp reflective geometric forms.

In the early 1960s, Luketić began he exhibit some of his works at shows around Zagreb and Ljubljana, slowing againing a reputation for himself. Then, in the mid-1960s, he spent several months in Milan, Italy where he was learning to master the craft of learning to work with stainless steel. Not only after returning from Milan, Luketić won his first major commission, which was for the creation of a massively ambitious 12x5m abstract stainless steel relief sculpture for one of the main halls of the Central Committee building of the League of Communists of Croatia (nicknamed 'Kockica'). With the success and praise from of this work, Luketić went on to win several subsequent competitions for the creation of NOB monuments during the 1970s & 80s, such as at Lepoglava and at Dotrščina Park in Zagreb. These memorial works were always metal and always were deep artistic examinations of shape, geometry, texture and light. All together during his long career, Luketić participated in over 100 tenders for various sculptural projects in Yugoslavia, of which he won and completed roughly half. It was also during this era of great productivity in the 1970s that Luketić first encountered his soon-to-be wife Eleonora, who he met when she came to apply for a job to work with him at his studio. They wed in 1977 and had their son Stefan in 1978.

 

While Luketić's career was going very well through the 70s, it was also during this time that he had one of his most dramatic tenders in participating in the competition for the Petrova Gora monument. It was here where he was competing head-to-head against his former protégé Vojin Bakić. Both Bakić's and Luketić's works were in the final three designs being considered for this massive project, but Luketić eventually lost out to the proposal by Bakić. Luketić continued making memorial works through the 1980s, while in the late 80s, he spent time working as a professor at the Faculty of Culture in Cetinje, Montenegro.

As Yugoslavia was dismantled in the wars and conflicts of the 1990s, many NOB monuments were destroyed and among them a number by Luketić, such as those at Bučje and Pakrac. Notably, his work at Kukunjevac was destroyed, for which Luketić was particularly distraught. During the 1990s, Luketić continued to create sculptural works, but he no longer created monuments. In an article, his wife Eleonora relates that he continued to put on exhibitions of his work through the 90s, but she says they were often overlooked by the popular press. Some sources explain the cold approach towards Luketić in 1990s Croatia was a result of his Montenegrin heritage, his Partisan history and his lamenting the fall of the Yugoslav state. However, in 2002, a massive retrospective of Luketić's work was held at the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU) in Zagreb, for which Luketić was overjoyed about. Just a few months after this exhibition at the HDLU, Luketić passed away in Zagreb at the age of 78. Luketić's wife Eleonora continues to live in Zagreb, while his son Sefan works in America as an astro-phsyiscist.

Luketić's original studio still exists at Vlaška 61 in Zagreb (which is interestingly just 300m from the studio used by sculptor Dušan Džamonja, which was also on Vlaška), but reports indicate that conflicts over ownership of the location are under debate between the city of Zagreb and his wife Eleonora.

Works by this Designer:

This is a listing of a number of memorials, monuments, cultural centers and other notable Yugoslav-era civic works by Stevan Luketić. 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 also includes images of the concept art for unrealized monument projects. This list is not exhaustive and will be added to over time.

Works with profile pages:

Click photos to go to page

Lepoglava. HR

Name: Lepoglava Memorial Graveyard

Year: completed 1981

Dotrščina, HR

IMG_20170314_154207.jpg

Name: Mon. to Pre-War Revolutionaries

Year: completed 1985

Pobori, ME

Pobori99999.jpg

Name: Mon. to the Fallen Fighters of Pobori

Year: completed 1972

Works without profile pages:

Zagreb, HR

Name: Mon. to Kozara Children at Mirogoj Cem.

Year: completed 1969

Location: N45°50'23.1", E15°59'13.1"

Kukunjevac, HR

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1972, expunged 1990s

Former location: ???

Zagreb, HR

Name: Wall relief at the Kockica building

Year: completed 1968

Location: N45°47'26.4", E15°58'09.3"

Budva, ME

Name: The Fountain of the Sun

Year: completed 1970, expunged 2001

Former location: N42°16'49.7", E18°50'13.1"

Borovo, HR

Name: 'The Jumper' at Vukovar Public Pool

Year: completed 1962, expunged 1990s?

Former location: N45°22'41.8", E18°57'51.8"

Zagreb, HR

Name: Sculpture at Prečko Computer Center

Year: completed 1988

Location: N45°47'29.8", E15°53'40.7"

Ravne na Koroškem, SLO

Name: Forma Viva work at hospital

Year: completed 1964

Location: N46°32'34.5", E14°58'02.3"

Unrealized Memorial Projects:

This section contains a listing of design proposals for various memorial projects that were submitted to competitions for consideration, but were ultimately NOT the final proposals chosen by the selection juries for the memorial projects they were submitted for. Below each photo is detailed the monument project it was submitted for, as well as the year it was submitted in.

Petrova Gora, HR

Name: concept for Monument to the Uprising

Year: proposed in 1971

Kamenska, HR

Name: concept for Mon. to the Revol. Victory

Year: proposed in 1960?

Dotrščina, HR

Name: concept for Dotrščina Memorial Park

Year: proposed in 1980