Celebration of the centennial anniversary of the birth of Miodrag B. Protić

The Legacy Gallery of Milica Zorić and Rodoljub Čolaković, Belgrade

20 October 2022, at 5 p.m.

Exhibition curators:

Svetlana Mitić, Katarina Krstić

The 100th anniversary of the birth of Miodrag B. Protić (1922–2014), the conceptual founder and long-term director of the Museum of Contemporary Art (1965–1980), as well as an influential artist, theoretician and critic of fine art and author of several monographs and studies on modern and contemporary art, will be commemorated by the Museum of Contemporary Art with an exhibition at the Legacy Gallery of Milica Zorić and Rodoljub Čolaković, which will open on 20 October, the day of the opening of the Museum building and the celebration of the liberation of Belgrade. Besides the most important works of Miodrag B. Protić from the Museum of Contemporary Art collection, the exhibition at the Legacy Gallery will include various documentary materials from the Museum’s Art Documentation Department, RTS archives, the Serbian Archive and the private archives of the Protić family.

The exhibition will present the process of founding first the Modern Gallery in 1958 and then the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1965, as the first institution with a distinctly profiled Yugoslav orientation in collecting works of modern and contemporary fine art, as well as the only institution of its type at the time with highly established museological standards. In this context, Protić’s achievements in the first two decades of managing the Museum will be portrayed, along with his contribution to founding the institution, creating future infrastructure and engaging in crucial programmatic campaigns, such as the series of shows called Yugoslav Art of the 20th Century, monographic retrospectives of Yugoslav and Serbian artists, international cooperation with relevant cultural institutions and the initiation of the process of the Museum’s inclusion in the trends of contemporary museum practice, which would also result in many pivotal exhibitions of foreign artists. Through particular segments in the exposition, the unique work models and curatorial practices that Protić consistently implemented in the Museum during his mandate will be presented, as well as his contributions to the presentation and interpretation of Yugoslav modern and contemporary art outside the country’s borders.

A significant segment of the exhibition is dedicated to Protić’s painting oeuvre. In addition to works from his series Constellations, Horizons, In Honor of Malevich, previously rarely shown watercolors and pastels will be displayed, which were created in the same chronological order as the mentioned paintings. All works belong to the Museum’s collection and the Legacy of M. B. Protić, which the author donated to the Museum in 1994.

The Museum will mark the second part of the jubilee with a convention held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The convention will focus on the three most significant aspects of Miodrag B. Protić’s career: his contribution to art as an author, his contribution to the field of writing – art criticism and prose, and his most significant contribution to the Museum recognized in establishing and promoting museum values that are today still upheld in the Museum’s work. The convention is intended for fellow museum officers, artists and art theoreticians from the country and the region.

Miodrag B. Protić was born on 10 May 1922 in Vrnjačka Banja. He finished high school in Kraljevo and graduated from the Faculty of Law in Belgrade in 1950. He studied painting at the painting school of Mladen Josić (1943–1944), where his teachers were Jovan Bijelić and Zora Petrović. He exhibited for the first time in 1946. He became a member of ULUS in 1948. He was one of the founders of the December Group (1955–1960). He started writing art criticism in 1951 (NIN, “Politika”). He collaborated with the magazine Delo, joining the controversy between “modernists” and “realists” from the magazine Savremenik (1955). Between 1950 and 1959, he worked as a clerk and later an inspector for fine and applied arts in the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. He was appointed Director of the Modern Gallery in Belgrade in 1959, and from 1965 to 1980, he was Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade. He became a member of JAZU in 1966. He published numerous texts, articles, forewords, books and monographic studies in the fields of art criticism, theory and history. He is the holder of many local and foreign awards, recognitions and orders. He died in Belgrade on 20 December 2014.