The collection consists of 752 works by 196 Serbian and Yugoslav artists from the beginning of the 20th century until today. The collection provides a basis for the comprehension of every significant phenomenon, poetics, author and work relevant to the development of sculpture in the Yugoslav art space and in Serbia.
The creative work of Ivan Meštrović stands at the beginning of modern sculpture in Yugoslavia and is represented in the collection by robust expressive sculptures of the Big Widow (1907) and Torso of Banović Strahinja (1907) from the “Cycle of Kosovo” (on a permanent loan from the National Musem). Toma Rosandić (Harp Player, 1934), Antun Augustinčić, Frano Kršinić and others who worked under the influence of Ivan Meštrović, but inclined more to the esthetics of academism. The intimistic sculpture from the 1930s most frequently has a chamber quality, and the most important examples of this movement are female nudes and figurines by Petar Palavičini, as well as young female figures and naively simplified figures of animals by Risto Stijović (Smiling Girl, 1925). The constructive art took various shapes ranging from the expressive, wellrounded figures by Slovenian sculptors Lojze Dolinar and France Kralj, over discreetly stylized portraits by Petar Palavičini (Rastko Petrović, 1922) i Sreten Stojanović (Portrait of a Friend, 1921), to emphatically “cubized” figures by Dušan Jovanović-Đukin (Girl with Mandoline, 1936-1938) created in Paris during the 1930s.
The period after World War II was marked by the domination of late modernism, in which an abstract sculpture of free forms, concerned only with plastic-esthetic issues and the use of new materials, is predominant. In this respect, the pioneering role was played Olga Jevrić – with her sculptures comprised of freely grouped cement masses interconnected by iron armature (Complementary Form, 1956/7) – as well as Dušan Džamonja (Sculpture XVI, 1961) and Vojin Bakić (Shapes of Light, 1964). The Rationality and coldness of the manufacturing process are common characteristics featured of the works of Vjenčeslav Rihter (Disassembled Sphere, 1967), Ivan Kožarić (L-50, 1965), Aleksandar Srnec, Velizar Mihić, Mladen Galić and others. These sculptures feature various tendencies within the geometric abstraction (Neoconstructivism, Protominimalism), which relates to the urban surroundings, the new technologies and materials (aluminium, glass, plastic). Olga Jančić (Motherhood II, 1957), Ana Bešlić, Oto Logo and others have consistently explored the issues of insulated organic form, which is the extention of the tradition of vitalist sculpture.
Figurative sculpture, which is characterized by transposed and modernized anthropomorphism, represents the other significant tendency in the sculpture after 1945. Its main proponents are Kosta Angeli Radovani, who sculpts female nudes as a symbol of fertility and vitalism (Dunja II, 1961/62), Matija Vuković, who depicts dramatic figures with emphasized physical deformities (Mother with a Dead Child, 1955), Nandor Glid and Vida Jocić, with figures of the “victims” from concentration camps, and Branko Ružić (Bird, 1962), who produces associative sculpture in wood.
The collection also features works of the protagonists of the so-called “New Serbian Sculpture”, which, from the beginning of the 1980s, introduces new models of sculptural thinking, and contributes to the shift of the logic of sculpture towards the object, the narrativization and the spacialization, which is seen in the works of Mrđan Bajić (Accumulation, 1988), Zdravko Joksimović (I Remember, 2001) and Dobrivoje Bata Krgović (Sculpture from the Ceiling to the Floor, 1993).