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Monographic study of the artistic oeuvre of Tošo Dabac


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Prosoli Stojkovska, Iva. (2018). Monographic study of the artistic oeuvre of Tošo Dabac. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Art History.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij povijesti umjetnosti) [mentor Galjer, Jasna].

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In order to understand the complete oeuvre of Tošo Dabac (Nova Rača, 1907 - Zagreb, 1970) and his role in the history of Croatian, as well as world photography and art, it was necessary to take into account all the fields in which he acted, as well as the objective political circumstances that constituted the framework for his creation. Unlike previous individual analyses which focused on a particular topic, interest or distinctive period of his activity, this work encompassed all types of photographic and other artistic activities that Tošo Dabac worked on, and which so far have been completely unknown to many. Interdisciplinary approach, applied in this work, apart from the history of photography and art history, included early history of film and film theory, history of Croatian film, history of photography, history of Croatian journalism, mechanisms of political propaganda, photo-amateurism and professional photography. In all these aforementioned areas, this work introduced new knowledge and new insights. With this work, Dabac's rich and varied activities is also observed in the context of historical, sociopolitical circumstances in which it was created, that is, through the specificities of the three state arrangements in which Dabac lived and worked. Using this approach, the basic precondition is set for understanding Tošo Dabac’s work in all its complexity of activities. Namely, since Dabac had been engaged throughout his working life by various state offices, promotional services and the media, it is impossible to understand his professional work solely on the basis of his formal and stylistic features. The beginning of Tošo Dabac professional career of is related to film. Dabac started his career as propagandist and translator in the Fanamet film industry in 1927, and then worked on the same functions in the MGM branch in Zagreb, where he edited the periodical Metro Megafon. In 1929, Dabac directed the film Vodica za kurajžu, which was screened in Zagreb cinema Europa Palace, on which the filmmaker was Sergije Tagatz. The photographer documented the recording of several films, and stills were attributed on the following ones: featuring recordings: Ples u prirodi (Oktavijan Miletić, 1935), Barok u Hrvatskoj (Oktavijan Miletić, 1942) and Zastave (Branko Marjanović, 1949). It was Dabac's encounter with film and film photography, with the media itself in each segment, both in practice and in theory, that represents the important beginning for understanding his visual elements, rules of composition, and lighting, and gaining a sense of drama in image. The common cultural circle that was created in the interwar period in Zagreb enabled the exchange of information, knowledge and ideas between photographic and film authors, who posed questions and questioned the boundaries of the media they dealt with. It was this openness that made it possible for Dabac to get closer to the poetics of New Vision, which he never left entirely, and which is also visible in Dabac's work in the period after World War II. At the beginning of the 1930s, Tošo Dabac began working as a photojournalist. He mostly collaborated with the daily newspapers Novosti and Večer and Radio Zagreb magazine, where he published photo reports and individual photographs. Photographs depict city scenes, reports of various events in Zagreb and its surroundings or social themes. Dabac began his photographic career as a photojournalist at the time when the photo reportage was established as a form of media communication, so he actively participated in its formation and can be considered one of the most important photo-reporters in Croatia. Additionally, the engagement in the daily newspaper prompted the creation of the Dabac's cycle, called the People from the Street (Ljudi s ulice), whose individual photographs were originally published in daily newspapers Večer and Novosti, and inspired him to further "explore" the life of the street and later the life of the people, which remained his dominant preoccupation. In 1933, Tošo Dabac joined the Zagreb Fotoklub, and he would exhibit for the first time next year at the photo exhibition in the small Croatian town of Ivanec. The following year he exhibited on the international exhibition Second Philadelphia International Salon of Photography, alongside Henri Cartier - Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, László Moholy-Nagy and Paul Outerbridge. He continued to exhibit until the beginning of the Second World War on numerous domestic as well as significant international exhibitions. He also actively participated in the work of the Club. Furthermore, Dabac's photo journalist and documentary work in the Independent State of Croatia as well as in the early period of the new Yugoslav state indicates that Dabac was the author who worked in all three political systems uninterruptedly, but when the opportunity presented itself, he was critical to all ideologies. In the period of Independent State of Croatia, in which about the work of Dabac, as well as the history of Croatian photography in general, is least written, there is continuous photographic activity, primarily in the service of state and state propaganda, in which Dabac played an active role. Dabac's reputation as a photographer and an author was also confirmed by his participation, as well as initiation, in several cultural projects and monographs. During the Second World War, Dabac worked as a regular contributor to Radio Zagreb, Croatian illustrated periodical and the official herald of Zagreb radio station, which was renamed to Hrvatski krugoval with the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia. He also collaborated with government agencies Promičba and Svjetlopisna služba. At the beginning of the 1940s, international exhibition practice continued, however, in this period it was mostly limited to the Axis countries. The new Yugoslav state brought new tasks and new topics, while Tošo Dabac became one of the most influential and in every respect of the most versatile photographers of that period. He actively participated in the equipping Yugoslav stands and pavilions at international World fairs and exhibitions, which were the first state-sponsored apparatus, which speaks of his reputation and trust enjoyed by state institutions and leading architects of that time. He worked on numerous national projects, and recorded in all parts of Yugoslavia. His works were also the bearers of numerous art monographs related to the cultural history of the country. He photographed new architectural objects and documented works and appearances in contemporary art and thus created an invaluable source for all the other explorers. In parallel, he was interested in trends in contemporary art photography, which led to the participation in two major travel exhibitions of humanist sign, Das menschliche Antlitz Europas and Weltausstellung der Photographie: Was ist der Mensch. The crown of his work was a retrospective exhibition, held in 1968 at the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb. After exploring all areas of Tošo Dabac's work, as well as a large range of his interests, one can conclude that always in his focus was a human being. A man as an individual, or a man as a symbol of time as a dynamic category, or a symbol of space, as a category of duration. Or, if we look at the perspective, what Dabac records with his analytical mind are signs of the same time and space that speak of the invincibility of man's destiny, the indestructibility of the insistent element, irrespectiveness of the political system, ideology, modernization, construction or collapse. Of course, Tošo Dabac in totality created a very important historical documentwith his oeuvre. However, this historical document is the result of his independent view, and perspective of the intellectual and artist of highly-developed aesthetics, analyst, empathic participant and cynical critic.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Tošo Dabac, Film, photo journalisam, social themes, Zagreb School, Zagreb Fotoklub, Ljudi s ulice (People from the Street), New Vision, Independent State of Croatia, Heimatfotografie
Subjects: History of art
Departments: Department of Art History
Supervisor: Galjer, Jasna
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij povijesti umjetnosti
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 12:23
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2019 12:23

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