Vojin Bakic is undoubtedly one of Croatia's most important artists, and also well recognized beyond Croatian borders. As early as 1964 Herbert Read included him in a review of modern sculpture (Modern Sculpture, A Concise History, Thames & Hudson). In his early works such as Bather (1942-1943), as well as portraits of S.S. Kranjcevic (1948) and I.G. Kovacic (1946) one can comprehend his sculptural excellence, though figurative language is still present. It was a step toward modernism and abstraction that made Bakic part of the history of European sculpture.
The sculptures Horse Head, Taurus and Birds were executed during the mid-fifties according to the principle of form reduction, gradual abstraction and compression of volumes. These works were exhibited in 1956 at the Venice Biennale, at which Bakic participated for the first time in 1950. In 1957 he began to work on the cycles of Polyvalent Forms and Leafed Forms. With these cycles Bakic took a step further towards reduction of figuration and thus started to explore autonomous sculptural forms.
Exhibitions in Gallery Drian in London and Denise René Gallery in Paris, where he exhibited with Picelj and Srnec, marked 1960 and 1961. In 1963 Bakic exhibited at the international exhibition New Tendencies 2 at the Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. His famous Light Forms were produced the same year. They were made of modulations of identical mirror units, resulting in a sculpture equally created by forms, shapes and light reflections. Bakic exhibited at the New Tendencies exhibitions in 1969 and 1973.
Bakic's public monuments and sculptures caused controversy from the start. His obvious modernist inclinations roused loud debates amongst professional circles. These circles rejected his design of Monument to Marx and Engels in 1953. Although his public monuments Dotrscina (1964 -1968), Kamensko (1958 -1968) and Petrova Gora (1970 - 1981) are excellent examples of modernist public sculpture, authentic artistic expression and the shift away from state-socialism aesthetics, during the 90s they were neglected or destroyed. This once again confirmed the dominance of politics in a culturally immature society.
Vojin Bakic was born in 1915 in Bjelovar, Croatia. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 1938, and then returned to Bjelovar where he organized his first solo exhibition. He exhibited in numerous galleries and museums here and abroad. Vojin Bakic died in 1992 in Zagreb.