Pavle Beljanski : biography
Pavle Beljanski (Veliko Gradište, 19 June 1892 – Belgrade, 14 July 1965) was a Serbian lawyer and diplomat, art lover and great connoisseur, collector who acquired the most complete collection of Serbian paintings from the first half of the 20th century, and by giving it to Serbian people, became one of its greatest contributors.
He attended high school in Belgrade, where he also studied law until the beginning of World War I, when he left for Paris. He graduated at the Sorbonne and began post-graduate studies there as well. He started his diplomatic career in Stockholm, and continued it in Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Rome and Belgrade. Residing in European capitals between World Wars, he was in a position to study the greatest works of art and to meet famous persons like Jovan Dučić, Ivo Andrić, Rastko Petrović, Milutin Milanković, Veljko Petrović, Isidora Sekulić, as well as the artists whose works will constitute a part of his collection: Milan Konjović, Kosta Hakman, Milo Milunović, Sreten Stojanović, Jefto Perić and Marino Tartalja. All this inspired his passion for collecting art. At first, he was interested in European, mostly Renaissance art, but he realized that the first-class artworks of the Old Masters were beyond his reach. While spending time with young artists, he concentrated on contemporary art. After a while, his collection of paintings, sculptures, tapestries and drawings of at that time relatively unknown authors grew into a unique collection of exquisite works of art. Tragic circumstances – the death of seven members of his family during the bombing of Svilajnac in 1944, – left Beljanski without the possibility of sharing the beauty of his collection with his dearest, so he decided to donate it to the Serbian people.
The Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection
The Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection bears the name of its founder and contributor Pavle Beljanski, a great art collector, who donated his collection of paintings, sculptures and tapestries to the Serbian people in November 1957, according to a special contract with the Government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. He continued to add works of art to this significant collection until the end of his life and according to the latest inventory, it consists of 185 works by 37 authors. The Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection was opened to the public on October 22, 1961.
The Memorial Collection is situated in a new building, specifically designed by architect Ivo Kurtović for the purpose of housing the art collection. The building was built in 1961 and in October of the same year, it opened to public under the name of The Pavle Beljanski Memorial Collection. The great architectural value of the structure was achieved through the architect’s good evaluation of its specific requirements which he organized into a functional whole.
When Beljanski started collecting works of art, most of the artists whose works he collected were anonymous young people at the beginning of their carriers. This underlined the importance of the willingness and ability of Pavle Beljanski to recognize quality and choose works of art which would, in years to come, gain the most important place in studies of the Serbian art of the first half of the 20th century.
Artist’s Memorial Hall
The Artist’s Memorial Hall was founded in 1971 and it consists of portraits and self-portraits, as well as documented material about artists whose works are included in the collection (photographs, letters, personal documents and objects used by artists in the process of making art – brushes, paints, palettes).
This Memorial Collection consists mainly of the first-class works of Serbian art from the period between the first and the seventh decades of the 20th century, with an emphasis on the period between WWI and WWII. Therefore, the collection chronologically begins with the paintings of the first generation of Modernists (Nadežda Petrović, Milan Milovanović, Kosta Miličević), and continues with the works of the most esteemed representatives of Serbian art between the two World Wars (Sava Šumanović, Milan Konjović, Petar Dobrović, Ivan Radović, Jovan Bijelić, Petar Lubarda, Sreten Stojanović, Risto Stijović), and artists from the second half of 20th Century (Zora Petrović, Liza Križanić, Živko Stojsavljević, Milenko Šerban, Ljubica Sokić). The Memorial Collection is also equipped with a library and a large archive, containing various items such as sketches, paintings, sculptures, letters, documents, photographies and video tapes.