Milena Pavlović-Barili

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Milena Pavlović-Barili
Milena Pavlovic-Barili Carl von Vechten.jpg
Milena Pavlović-Barili by Carl Van Vechten, 1940
Born(1909-11-05)5 November 1909
Died6 March 1945(1945-03-06) (aged 35)
Known forPainting

Milena Pavlović-Barili (alt. Barilli; Serbian Cyrillic: Милена Павловић-Барили; 5 November 1909 – 6 March 1945) was a Serbian painter and poet. She is the most notable female artist of Serbian modernism.[1]


Her Italian father, Bruno Barilli, was an influential composer. Her Serbian mother, Danica Pavlović-Barili, a descendant of the Karađorđević dynasty, was a lady in waiting to Queen Maria of Yugoslavia and was tasked with improving her Serbian language. She was also superintendent at the court of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, who was her second cousin once removed. Danica also had artistic talent and studied art in Munich, where she met her husband Bruno Barilli in 1905, whom she married in an Orthodox ceremony 4 years later in the city of Pozarevac.

Milena herself studied at the Royal School of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia (1922–1926) and in Munich (1926–1928). In the early 1930s, she left Serbia and returned only for brief visits until the outbreak of World War II. During her stays in Spain, Rome, Paris and London, where she socialised with Jean Cocteau and André Breton, she was influenced by many western schools and artists, notably Giorgio de Chirico. After 1939, she lived and worked in New York where her career peaked as an illustrator for Vogue,[2] Harper's Bazaar, and other publications under the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.[3] In 1941, she appeared in the Twentieth Annual of Advertising Art, and before her death, she was commissioned to design costumes for Gian Carlo Menotti's ballet Sebastian and a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; these were never completed.[3] She died in a horse-riding accident at the age of 35. She was cremated, according to her American husband's wishes, and buried in a cemetery in Rome.[3] Her envelope-pushing and taboo-breaking work graced galleries all over the world, her ideas sitting at the forefront of the surrealist movement.

The topics of her work varied from portraits to imaginative interpretations of biblical stories. The motifs often included dream-like situations, veils, angels, statues of Venus goddess, and Harlequins. Many of her works are parts of permanent exhibitions in Rome, New York City, Museum of Contemporary Art (Belgrade), and her hometown of Požarevac, where the house in which she was born has been converted into a museum in her honor.[4] In 1943, Pavlović-Barili's work was included in Peggy Guggenheim's show Exhibition by 31 Women at the Art of This Century gallery in New York.[5]


She was born in Požarevac, and the house in which she was born is now a museum dedicated to her life.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vukovic, Sofija. "Milena Pavlović Barili" (in Serbo-Croatian). stazenezele. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c Barilli, Milena Pavlović (2010). Milena Pavlovic Barilli: la moda nella stanza di un'artista (in Italian). Edizioni Pendragon. ISBN 978-88-8342-818-0.
  4. ^ "Milena Pavlović Barilli, she painted the world". Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  5. ^ Butler, Cornelia H.; Schwartz, Alexandra (2010). Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art. p. 45. ISBN 9780870707711.

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