Milan Konjović (January 28, 1898 – October 20, 1993) (Милан Коњовић) was a prominent Serbian painter whose works can be divided into six periods of artistic style. He studied in many countries abroad and lived in Paris from 1924 to 1932. His long life's work earned him many recognitions as well as a place in the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, SANU).
Milan Konjovic finished elementary and secondary school in Sombor between 1904 and 1916. In 1914 he had his first exhibition featuring some fifty works painted in nature. In 1919 he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, in the class of Vlah Bukovac. Having left the Academy after the second semester, he continued his education on his own, in Prague where an avant-garde Czech painter Ian Zrzavi introduced him to the art of Leonardo da Vinci. He later brought his studies to Vienna and travelled to German museums in Munich, Berlin, and Dresden.
His most significant and successful one-man exhibitions includes 1931's "Galerie Bing et Cie", 1932 "Galerie van Leer", and 1937 "Galerie Mouradian-Vallotton." He participated in several Paris Salon exhibitions, marked the beginning of his artistic "blue phase", which lasted from 1929 to 1933. In the later years, he devoted himself to painting his hometown Sombor, its landscape, people and milieu. In summertime he painted in the cities of Dalmatia, including Mlini, Cavtat, and Dubrovnik.
Konjovic's "red phase" lasted from 1934 till 1940. In 1941 Konjovic was in Osnabric as a prisoner of war. After his release, Konjovic began painting pastels most notably in the years 1943, 1944, and 1949. He then began producing oil works painted in so-called 'subdued colors' from 1945 to 1952, marking the "gray phase" of his work. 1953 is considered to be the turning point in Konjovic's painting style. He works began to be defined by more pure intensive colors and glow, leading to the period dubbed the "coloristic phase." New artistic orientation culminated and was to characterize the works of the "associative phase" (1960-1984). At that time Milan Konjovic engaged himself in the work of the artists' colonies of Vojvodina. In 1985 began the "Byzantine phase" with works treating various themes from Byzantine history.
By the end of 1990 Konjovic had produced about thirty new works, completing the impressive opus of about 6000 oil paintings, pastels, water colors, temperas, drawings, tapestries, stage sets, costume sketches, stained glass windows, mosaics, and graphics. In his life, Konjovic had 297 one-man and 700 group exhibitions in the country and abroad, in such notable locations as Prague, New York, London, Amsterdam, São Paulo, Rome, Modena, Athens, Paris, and Moscow.
His legacy is best represented in his hometown of Sombor where the "Milan Konjovic " Gallery, opened on September 10, 1966, holds about 1060 selected works. In 1979 he was elected a member of Vojvodina Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 1986 he became a corresponding member of Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, and in 1992 a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
In June 2008, an exhibition of the works by Milan Konjovic was opened in the Milan Konjovic Gallery in Sombor to commemorate 110 years from the birth of the artist. Entitled "Milan Konjovic: In Defence of the Autonomy of Paintings" (Milan Konjović: Odbrana autonomije slike), the exhibition documented Konjovic's output in the period of socialist realism, from 1946 until 1951, when "Marxist" art critics vilified and criticised the artist for (among other things) "painting for himself, instead of for the community".
Dr Drasko Redjep notes that Konjovic became aware of his own artistic worth very early and always maintained high prices of his paintings, but he also donated them with joyful generosity.
The works of Milan Konjovic are usually divided into several phases:
- Early Phase (1913-1928)
- Blue Phase (1929-1933)
- Red Phase (1934-1940)
- Gray Phase (1945-1952)
- Coloristic Phase (1953-1960)
- Associative Phase (1960-1985)
- Byzantine Phase (1985-1990)
Short note on style
Milan Konjovic is described as Serbian greatest colourist. Dr Drasko Redjep calls him the painter of the wheat fields, vast plains, Sombor's urban views, and Mediterranean holiday scenery, whose works constitute an important reference point.
He is considered to be one of the most significant exponents of Expressionism of colour in Serbian art between two wars.
Konjovic's mature style of painting is characterised by thick layers of paint. He resorted to pastels in the years after World War II, when there was a shortage of oil paints. Later on, he returned to oils, layering them on the surface in thicker layers than ever; this presents quite a challenge when cleaning some of the paintings. The Byzantine phase of his last years is characterised by thinner layers of paint, with patches of unpainted surface.
- The reconstruction work on the Milan Konjovic Gallery, Sombor
- The City of Sombor
- Milan Konjovic Gallery
- Politika: Culture section, in Serbian
- Closing of the exhibition of Pavle Beljanski memorial
- ProArte: Milan Konjovic by Dr Drasko Redjep
- Milan Konjovic Gallery: Works
- ProArte: Milan Konjovic by Dr Drasko Redjep
- ARTE Media: Milan Konjovic
- Biography at the Milan Konjović Gallery web site
- Envelope with signature of Milan Konjovic; the stamp depicts one of his paintings
- Gallery of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Milan Konjovic, video
- Multilingual Archive: Milan Konjovic
- Lazar Trifunovic Reality and myth in the painting of Milan Konjovic Second edition, Sombor, 1990
- Miroslav Josic The century of Milan Konjovic (1890-1998)
- Milan Konjovic 1898-1993 (Konjovic izbliza) By Irma Lang, publisher: Galerija "Milan Konjovic", 2011, ISBN 8688275009
- Veliki potpis (The Great Signature) Milan Konjović by Drasko Ređjep, publisher Novi Sad Prometej, 1994, ISBN 86-7639-130-0
- Wikipedia in Serbian: Milan Konjovic