Texts that have been written on different occasions:
Like any exhibition, this too is primarily the result of the pleasure of choice of the professional esthete, that is, not much more than an approach to the life’s work of the artist; a mere attempt to get to the heart of the matter. That’s good, because a certain mystery has to stay. Some of those present began decades ago to lead quiet self-talk before the pictures of Zoran Mušič; Nice to have you here! Nevertheless, I consider it my task to present to you the stages of our curatorial foray through these living landscapes.
Young Zoran Mušič, who still does not know many things, but one thing is certain: he can only become a painter and nothing else. He is a child of his time and a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, in the master class of the painter and art theorist Ljubo Babić, who in turn was a pupil of Franz von Stuck. At the Zagreb Academy one knows the current isms and the sociopolitical graphics from the Weimar Republic. However, the professor suggests to his gifted student a stay in Spain, whereupon the 26-year-old Mušič in the Prado gets to know the continent of Goya and its abysses. As before, this has no major impact; until 1944 Zoran Mušič is just one of the many good late Impressionists. In the spring of 1944 he comes to Venice, where he meets the gold of the lagoon city and his future wife. First international networks are being spun.
A turning point that can be summed up in one word: Dachau. Zoran Mušič is someone there who draws under his 6-digit prisoner number, so lives.
The return to Venice in the fall of 1945 and – as the painter himself thought – the awakening in Byzantium. It is not birth, but just a resurrection: St. Mark’s Church is again within reach, and Zoran Mušič met the imagery of another painter in Vienna back in 1929, who at the time was blinded by the sunshine of Ravenna’s mosaics, namely Gustav Klimt. Zoran Mušič paints iconic portraits of his wife, which fertilize the work of painter friend Massimo Campigli. In the immediate post-war period, the painter also rediscovers the subject of “horse” – less that sinewy, sweaty animal caught in the here and now, as that primeval, that of cave painting and the image friezes of the buried civilizations of Crete and Mycenae. Obviously, because the painting of Zoran Mušič is in a sense zero in the hour, she also has to start all over again after the experienced inferno of the concentration camp, seemingly without any comprehensible prerequisites. “A painter can not rely on someone else’s experience, or something someone else has discovered,” Mušič said in a conversation. And further: “The only important thing is the reality that you carry within you, if you have one. You can not use foreign realities. ” Quote end.
In 1948, during a train ride, the discovery of the Umbrian and Tuscan landscapes, that is, the hills that have no past, because they are the past itself – naked, scarred, dried up; meaningful and at the same time meaningless. In Paris, where he lives from 1952, Mušič translates the hills, and the horses, and the peasant women from the Arcadian landscape of Dalmatia into an abstract fabric – not as a brave soldier of the Nouvelle École de Paris (to which he is easily counted!), but as a shy mystic who explains the world of visible things, transfigures them and in the same time looks for small tent-like oases for themselves – safe places that are still in short supply for the survivors of a concentration camp.
The pressure of adjustment on the part of the Parisian environment is so strong that Mušič takes a step towards non-figurative painting at the end of the 1950s. Since he is still firmly on the Dalmatian soil mentally, his guest appearance in the exhibitionist theater of the Tachists and Informelists is not associated with any great risk. The semi-abstract painter Mušič finds himself without having searched, but does not consider the find to be particularly spectacular (we already know). The return to figurative painting leads through the rare flowers in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the new horses to the fraternal corpses of the cycle We are not the last.
Early 70’s. Zoran Mušič has overcome the creative crisis for some time and paints fire-resistant cork oaks near the Côte d’Azur. He admires her endurance and the expansive gestures of her branches and roots. Terrifying and helpless at the same time, they remind one of the searching fingers of his fellow sufferers from Dachau. Long, searching fingers can also be seen in the double portraits, which show the painter around 1990 with his wife Ida, where the “drama contactlessness” takes place, as Werner Spies aptly noted. The fiery hairstyle of the woman resembles a cloud-like crown of trees, as one finds in so many dusky landscape pieces by Klimt. In the 80s and 90s he paints again Venice and Paris; These places of his artistic development are in a sense to what Gustav Meyrink Prague and Charles Rodenbach Bruges were – homes in the uncanny.
And the last stop,
which finally proves that Zoran Mušič was a courageous artist. Ironically, Venice, a city steeped in tourists and clichés over all dimensions, he remained faithful for decades. Ironically, on a seemingly lost post, namely in the medium of painting, he defended his personal integrity.
Without sinking into the lowlands of the political arena, he was a humanist par excellence and an advocate of humanity, which was also and above all a humanity towards itself – just in the sense of that truth that is reasonable for man. For example, the transience. For example, the fact that each individual’s conviction and mood are mere snapshots, heirlooms of human inability to even deal with eternity, let alone eternity itself. In his late, abysmal self-acts, Zoran Mušič takes a different direction. They are sequences of a cleansing ritual before the final farewell. “Death is the only state of perfection attainable for a mortal,” wrote Emil Cioran. It was not the artist, but the man Zoran Mušič, who was well and fearlessly prepared. A person who was longing for something that would never be, until the last breath, the silence that we should consider as an intangible cultural heritage by tonight.
There are encounters that point your own life in a new, previously unknown direction. This is how it was in 1986, when I was confronted with the pictures of Zoran Music at the Museo Correr in Venice: for the first time I saw the terrible visions of the series “Non siamo gli ultimi”, the painted corpse mountains, in which the artist in one never finished the mourning work of the dead concentration camp comrades in the Dachau concentration camp.
As a young man he was deported there, arrested in Venice, and interned in Trieste concentration camp Risiera di San Saba, abruptly torn from a promising artistic career.
It was an irony of fate that Music fell into the hands of his pursuers right in front of the Palazzo Balbi-Valier portal, where he would live much later with his congenial wife Ida Barbarigo.
Behind this fateful portal, the pair of both friends were to house French President Francois Mitterrand and accompany him to the very threshold of his death. What Zoran Music had had to see, the stiff frozen dead under a shroud of snow, the hanged man on the gallows, will cause him nightmares; even the later brilliant successes in Paris, in Germany and in Italy, culminating in the grand retrospective in the Grand Palais, will not change that. Music paints a requiem for human civilization, be it in serene Paris, in the Karst or on its Altane in Venice.
Zoran Music had been driven out of the paradise of his childhood and youth, so to speak, and there was no way back, except in the temporary retreat under the golden mosaics of San Marco, whose diffused otherworldly glow he tried to capture in late pictures. Music grew up in the Collio that idyllic landscape north of Gorizia / Gorizia / Nova Gorica. Once before, during the First World War, he had had to leave the idyll with his parents when an absurd front line ran through the vineyards.
He spends significant months in Griffen, in southern Carinthia; In old age he was allowed to enter his former nursery, shortly before the temporary residence was demolished.
In this life of escape from the hells of the 20th century, in Dachau imprisonment, but then in the contemplation of the rediscovered beauty of the Old World, which has been completely lost, he has become the painter of that mythical continent we call Central Europe. This Central Europe is the synthesis of Europe’s traditions and cultures.
Already in the thirties he discovered Spain, where he studied the works of Velazquez and Goya. Both artists have an unmistakable influence on his own painting, they taught him to see the world from a temporal perspective: Velazquez as the painter of Hispanidad, the Spanish ethos who poured into the cultural history of Central Europe through the courtyards of Madrid and Vienna, Goya as painter and chronicler of the disaster of the Napoleonic wars.
Nothing could be more than before when Zoran Music was released from the concentration camp in 1945. Nevertheless, he searched for his roots, perhaps for the healing of an ultimately incurable trauma. Because “non siamo gli ultimi” – “We are not the last”: the mute complaint of the dead will accompany him, even if he tries to distance himself.
All too often, of course, the picture changes before his eyes. Then the white scree reminds him of the white skulls of Dachau’s dead and the horses remind him of an unattainable sense of freedom, a freedom he constantly threatens. For what has happened once, that will have to be repeated again and again.
There is no optimism in the story for music, the experience remains irrefutable.
Since 1988 I had closer contact with Zoran Music. I remember the many hours we spent in his Paris studio and his magnificent house in Venice, the stories from his biography, which summarizes the Central European tragedies of the 20th century almost exemplary. In his domain, he always gave himself as sovereign, self-critical, he sometimes rejected impressive leaves and sketches, he had to persuade him to destroy nothing.
Standing in his floor-length white dressing gown in the midst of his work, he still enjoyed being interested in his work. He knew that he did not want to be one of the artistic currents of his time, and he did not care at all if his work was in line with a trend to ever be marketed. His fame proved timeless.
Which also applies to the pictures of Ida Barbarigo, whose portrait series of President Mitterrand reveal a being that is more to be understood from the esoteric, because of the daily politics of his term.
In this area, terms such as “modern” or “avant-garde” are becoming less important. Both consider the world “sub specie aeternitatis”, from eternity.
When Zoran Music draws and paints the barks at the Venetian Zattere, when his gaze clings to a window in the red façade of a Venetian house, as he paints the rose in the aisle of San Marco, he conjures a Venice beyond space and time ,
There is a fascination with this work that you have to work on. Whoever does not embark on the Master’s personality will find no access to his world. In a conversation with Jean-Marie Drot, he once reveals the veil of discretion and confesses, with regard to his drawings from Dachau, which resulted in danger to his life: “I drew in a trance. I was dazzled by the enchanting magnificence of these corpses. From a distance they seemed to me like white snowfields, like silvery reflections on mountains, or again, like the flight of seagulls settling on the lagoon, against the black background of a thunderstorm over the sea … “And further:” Not at all in response to the I have rediscovered the happiness of childhood: little horses, landscapes and women of Dalmatia. They were already available before. Only afterwards I was given to see her differently. After the vision of these external attributes, all the superfluous undressed corpses, freed from any hypocrisy and the rank differences with which people and society adorn themselves, I believe I have discovered the terrible and tragic truth that I have experienced was … “
So Zoran Music and Francois Mitterrand walked the Zattere, two people who knew nothing of the great mystery beyond history. The fact that I was allowed to accompany Music a part of his life is a privilege of my life.
Siegbert Metelko (Text for the art magazine Parnass)
Being able to show Zoran Music’s art in these times in the Alberti-na is a great joy and an important concern. Like few other artists, Music unites the qualities of the Adriatic Alpine region through its life and its art, whose fate today moves all hearts. Born in Gorizia before the First World War and raised in the Trieste area, moved to Styria and Carinthia at a young age, then educated at the Academy in Zagreb, from where he visited Vienna and Prague, and finally in Venice as an artist Potency recognized, he is a child of our space. The motifs of the art area of Veneto and Dalmatia and the aesthetics of the Byzantine tradition of these eastern territories formed the basis of his art. From there his interest extended to Madrid and finally to Paris, which he chose as the main residence next to Venice after the Second World War. From the Central European he became a European and developed his strongest forces in the polarity of Western and Eastern Europe.
In the middle of his life he was also drawn into the horror of our European destiny. In 1944 he was captured by the SS and deported as an alleged collaborator of the resistance to Dachau. He has experienced the beauty and horror of our time with the depths of our past, the peasant traditions of Dalmatia and the splendor and beauty of Dalmatia the elegance of old Venice and the comfort of the old Austrian area. From this, Music’s art draws its peculiarity and can help us in our time of turmoil and fragmentation to recognize what should hold this southeastern part of ancient Central Europe together, a deep, humane culture and sensibility that unites man and nature.
The exhibition was organized by the Albertina in cooperation with the city of Klagenfurt and financed with the help of sponsors. Victoria Martino lent her good eye to get the most out of the abundance of drawings and to ensure diversity and coherence in the exhibition, in the catalog and its design. Sylvio Acatos and Armande Reymond lent us their documentation for the oeuvre catalog of the painterly work of Zoran Music, which will be published in the spring of 1993, but of which we only print the list of solo exhibitions here. The artist supported us in every way. We hope that this new selection of Music’s drawing work and the texts written especially for the catalog will give a new insight into the work of this important loner in modern art.
In the heart of the world rises a skull site. This is good old European cosmogony, among us Westerners we know what we are talking about. A skull place and around it the world turns: Our world.
Around the skull-shaped dome in the suburbs of Jerusalem rise the corpses of bodies, like satellites. The Romans made short work of the insurgent Jews, who in turn already had a whole history of salvation behind them. In search of the skull site, the Crusaders made short work of Muslims, Jews, Orthodox living around. The Crusaders sing “Great God we praise you”, while the war correspondent notes zealously that the water level of the hit people reaches the bridle bridles.
The pile of corpses sky high, everyone around an ideology, which logically reasons why he had to be layered. They obscure the horizon. Our horizon.
It is no longer about Zoran Music`s body heap about art or the like. Art, that is the mastery that attributes the grace of the Dalmatian landscape as well as the saecula saeculorum, as well as the all-out yet relieving convulsion of a person hanging from the gallows.
One does not cling to art-lustful vanities, to a painter who has everything in his wrist anyway, the magic of a copper-haired Venetian, and the anatomy of a ruined larynx, see above.
It is, when talking about music, to truthfulness, which is required in the witness stand of the World Tribunal.
Zoran Music obscures the language of the hanged and those of the executioners, and those who are mercifully intoxicated by life, in safety. If even the love-sigh breaks the language, much more the rattling of the wounded.
All the more eloquent is the silence around the Leichengebirge. He says, “We are not the last”.
It does not matter to which nation the flesh came from, which was shoveled into the crematoria ovens in Auschwitz, or pushed into the pit by bulldozers in Croatia and Bosnia. The children in the rattling concrete machines, it happened to the children in Bosnia, speak the voiceless language of their previous comrades from Dachau, from Trblinka: “We are not the last”
The accomplices of the executioners of those days hold their ears when the word “Auschwitz” falls. The intellectuals, the peace movement, the alternative Hauberlstricker listen to the ears when the word Sarajevo falls. How they covered their ears when talking about the boatpeople or the killing fields. Guaranteed is the continuity of horror.
The continuity of horror is guaranteed as long as people muster the meanness of carving their skin for an ideology. The ideology which logically justifies all horror and excuses it intellectually is the deepest abyss of human wickedness.
Nationalism, Leninism, Maoism, Titoism, Nationalism: The bodies of Auschwitz, Gulags, Haiphong, Hue, Pnom Penh, Gottschee and Sarajevo are vainly mourned as long as ideologues and semi-intellectual rogues feel called to make sacrifices.
From eternity, bliss, salvation, no trace on Zoran Music`s leaves. Perhaps the heavy satisfaction of not having lied here under the gallows of Dachau. The dead of Dachau have not been the last, the children of Bosnia will not be the last. In the heart of the world rises a skull site. Da capo al fine.
Siegbert Metelko, 1992
Last look at Zoran Music, which I was allowed to accompany for more than 25 years soon up close, now from afar: The Vaporetto goes under the Ponte dell’Accademia, towards San Marco. On the curved balcony of the Palazzo Balbi-Valier, the tall figure of the old gentleman, the evening breeze blows a strand of hair into his face. But it would not help to make a sign in front of him. Zoran Music is almost blind. Nevertheless, he now seems to fix something infinitely distant, as if he absolutely wanted to fathom this something.
What is behind the veil that the cat has drawn in front of his scrutinizing eyes? What have the eyes of the dead people stacked in Dachau in the snow still captured, whose gaze Zoran Music has never forgotten? Why did the friend Francois Mitterrand go to Egypt, the cataract hotel, shortly before his death? What did he want to see? Did he see it? Did he tell Zoran Music?
Most recently, Zoran Music’s gaze had narrowed, a tunnel vision with a vague idea of light at the end of the tube, as in the picture of Hieronymus Bosch at the Museo Civico Correr in Piazza San Marco. Zoran Music relies on the previously seen: Dachau’s dead mountains, the tormented people who told him to tell the living: “Non siamo gli ultimi.” The dry karst slopes of Dalmatia with their
Little horse and donkey. The red facades of Venice, the morning mist over the barges puffing against the Zattere; daily walk, from his apartment. And, again and again, lifelong fascination and obsession, the face of the beloved, the mysterious Venetian woman with the chestnut-colored mane: Ida. Much more shadowy the memory of your own reflection. Over the years, it became an icon, not its ego, but the unnameable behind every self.
And Jacques Lassaigne, director of the Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, said in the same year:
Music’s work is not an outcry of rebellion, she raises no charges. Rather, it is a meditation of what he has experienced in the concentration camps. He himself has crossed all circles of hell. But today the most awful subjects under his hand preserve a kind of discretion, a kind of purity. The picture speaks by itself without ever becoming theatrical or literary. Goya contented himself with writing some of his etchings: “I saw that.” Music reveals the pain, it releases it, so to speak. Through the magical act of painting, the tragic figures he conjures transform into strange blossoms. Delicate shadows gather in the protruding bones of the face, in the eye sockets and in the mouths. Death, no longer viewed from the outside, but in this intimacy, receives a disturbing attraction. In their decay the emaciated human bodies take on enormous dimensions: phenomena that speak a direct language. Over deep black tones plays a palette of color nuances, soft pink, gray and ocher. A testimony that art is life.
But how can a person live with these memories, even if he captures them year after year? Over the course of our friendship, I once again had an opportunity to talk to Zoran Music about his existential mystery.
To this day I feel that the eyes of the dying follow me. They’ve never left me alone since: I still see them, the hundreds of glances that pleaded with me for help, which probably also accused me of climbing over their bodies in the ghostly landscape of the concentration camp, paving my way. Shiny eyes, who silently asked for the help of those few who were still able to walk. When evening came, the dying and the others, who were thought to be dead, were stacked like logs. It looked like a pyre, almost a kind of tower. A spooky tower: it seemed to me that it trembled and creaked. But these noises, they were perhaps nothing but the last moaning of the dying. Then it started to snow a little at night, it was March; and the next morning the tower stopped moving.
It was an absurd, unreal world in which one lived in a concentration camp. The rules were alien, but there was a meticulous order; she was cruel, cruel beyond the limits of the thinkable. Anyone who had the slightest power was allowed to crush you like a worm. But strange: we accepted this reality as if there were no other possible order. In the end, they doubted whether there was any outside world beyond the barbed wire.
Wait, apathy. I lived in a landscape of the dead and the dying. Nothing but corpses. A gruesome picture haunts me: It was noon. A living skeleton of inmate held his bowl firmly in his hands. He was looking for a quiet corner where he could sip his soup. It was not nutritious, but at least warm. He sat down on a vacant seat. It was the head of a dead man…
Zoran Music was always aloof, perhaps especially to his friends; and it was never easy to deal with him. He appreciated it when he respected him, and with it a stately Central European way of life which he, as the last of them, still embodied. One must never forget that he was a lord; the species is almost extinct.
He tolerated it, not without subtle irony, when one, clad in jeans, slid on his knees on the floor of his Parisian studio or Venetian retreat, under the veranda overlooking the lagoon, looking for leaves. He accepted it as a homage owed to him. Gracious as a king by the grace of God and smiling. It was simple and exquisite things that gave him pleasure. In this sense, he may have been one of the last dandies on the continent, in the spirit of Baudelaire. A dinner with members of the oldest Venetian families in the red-papered restaurant on the corner of the Quai Voltaire with the Rue du Bac, under the Atasier Idas. And with Ida as the queen of the evening. A trip to the Carinthian Griffen, where he spent two years of his childhood. The house, where he had lived with parents and siblings, should be demolished. As if it belonged to him, he climbed majestically up the stairs, opened the door to his room and inspected it, not without his indefinable smile. The factual statement followed: Here was my bed. The fireplace is still there. Then we went to the Slovenian nunneries in Völkermarkt; he had gone to school in her convent. He insisted on staying here. Now he came as Grandseigneur. With serious irony, this never left him, he let himself be served by the venerable sisters coffee. On the way home a sunflower field. He stopped, got out, and smiled imperceptibly. He had recovered the lost time.
Zoran Music was a person of Central Europe. Central Europe, that is that almost unknown continent in the continent, the inserted in the larger whole is like a Russian doll. Central Europeans, all Central Europeans, Slovenians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, Croats, Poles, and and, consider themselves and their geographically never definable homes to be the “Heart of Europe”. And because they are skeptics and probably also hypochondriacs, they look at this heart with suspicion. With a historically justified suspicion. Karl Kraus (speaking of old Austria) characterized the area as a laboratory for world declines.
To give an idea of the mythical-historical term Central Europe, let’s take a look at the city Gorizia / Gorizia / Gorica, where Zoran Music was born. It is a city neither ethnically nor historically definable: Metropolis once a county, to which both the blessed Collio belonged, and the valleys of today’s East Tyrol.
Görz bordered on the Republic of Venice, was culturally intimate with the lagoon city, but politically hostile. On the one hand the House of Austria, heir of the counts of Gorizia, on the other the Venetians in their star-shaped fortress Palmanova. You met your eyes and you mistrusted each other; suspicious and yet dependent on each other: by the mixed Italian-Friulan-Slavic population, by Catholic traditions, not least by the food: Mare è Montagna. Wild mushrooms and seafood, polenta, black wine.
Central Europe, then. Heart, stomach, but also neuralgic point of the continent. Zoran Music’s biography seems to me like a concentrate of the history of the “Continent in the Continent”. When he was born on February 12, 1909, Görz, an at least trilingual city, is still under the wing of the Hittite-Byzantine-Austrian double-headed eagle. Gorizia, as well as Trieste, are asylum places for stranded people of the world theater.
In Gorizia, on today’s Slovene, since May 1, 2004 common European hill Castagnavizza, rest in the crypt of the Franciscan monastery the remains of the last direct descendants of St. Louis: King Charles X of France, who lost his throne in 1830, after his brother Louis XVI. Died under the hatchet in 1793 and his other brother, Louis XVIII, had tried to re-establish the rule of the House of Bourbon after the Revolution and the Empire of Napoleon. Next to it lies his niece, the unfortunate daughter of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette’s, as well as his grandson, the Earl of Chambord, who called himself Henri V, but never became king again.
In Trieste died Joseph Fouché, the terrible terrorist of the French Revolution, the “Butcher of Lyon”, regicide, later Napoleon’s Minister of Police and later the king, after he, the renegade priest, had made peace with his god. Every day he was kneeling at the communion gate of Santa Maria Maggiore. Infants of Spain are buried in the cathedral of Trieste, descendants of those kings who employed Goya as court painter.
At that time, the word “Non siamo gli ultimi” came to mind: we are not the last. The persecution of man by man is not over. It will never be over. From Music’s work speaks one, apart from Goya, unprecedented threat, but also a warning to all generations: We are not the last.
Between the experiences of the child and the man exploring the so early created universe. Experience Dalmatia with the dry rocks that plunge into the sea, the harsh sadness of the karst, the experience of Spain, where its own inclination coincide with the genius loci. Goya’s compassionate, compassionate, in the representation of the seen but objective illusion of the misery of the people, the reduced silver shimmering range of his last years, the concise, color-reduced painting of Velazquez. Castile, the “land of stones and saints” of Miguel de Unamuno, the land of the mystics and Don Quixote (sometimes reminiscent of Zoran Music) has shaped Central Europe. For two hundred years
Spain had been married to the Central European area, so to speak. Here, in Spain, in dealing with his masters, Zoran Music has acquired the ability to still paint the unimaginable. He did not suspect then how necessary he would have had this Spanish lesson. Yet the traumatic experience of childhood once again proves to be irrefutable: it means to go from one exile to another. When civil war breaks out in Spain in 1936, it is also time to say farewell to this philosophical and picturesque homeland.
Very hesitantly, I began to draw. Maybe that was one way to free me internally, I thought to myself. First, there were attempts to capture things that I had noticed on the way to the factory where we had to work. The arrival of a transport, the glaring eyes of people who were mad with hunger and thirst, staring at filth.
Later, I was seized by an incredible rage. In the last weeks of the concentration camp, I found paper and ink. It was a kind of trance, I was blinded by the dizzying pathos of the corpses. From a distance they looked like white snowdrifts, like the silvery reflection of snow-capped mountains. Thousands of details caught my eye when I drew. The fragile bodies were of a strangely tragic elegance: the hands, the thin fingers, the half-open mouths, which at last wanted to get some air. And the bones. They were covered in a white, bluish skin…
I hid the drawings under machines. There were about two hundred leaves. There are about thirty-five left over.
Again: an artist does not illustrate. What I experienced had to mature inside me.
In Dachau we had a common conviction: Never more may happen like that. To this day, however, history and politics contradict our passionate desire.
After the collapse of the National Socialist tyranny Music pulls it back to Venice. He begins anew at the magical place from where he began his hellish journey to Dachau. Venice as the counterworld of this hell. And as a place of artistic reconsideration:
Returning to Venice, I consciously perceived Byzantine art for the first time. It was like an awakening and a shock at the same time: the Byzantines were in a relationship with my area. I discovered the mosaics of Venice and Ravenna: I had seen them before the war. And with the Byzantines, the Sienese also opened up to me with their mysterious heavenly gold reason. And the early Florentines. I loved Cimabue, Giotto and Uccello. When I first traveled to Tuscany in 1948, I was mesmerized by the dazzling white of the Sienese hills. That’s how my Sienese landscapes came to be.
Zoran Music as he opened the door for me: an overwhelming personality. There he stood in his long, light dressing gown, which made him look like a monk. Only later did I understand the unconscious symbolism of this coat. Zoran Music certainly had something of a secular monk, with his equally monastic bent for rigorous examination of conscience, with his scruples of leaving posterity something not completely perfected. I had to see that he removed works that no longer met his own quality criteria by destroying them. Two hundred handwritten pages I keep with me, testimonies of the encounters of many years, which eventually became a kind of friendship with the otherwise unapproachable.
So he once told me a strange story about Carinthia: some of his etchings did not suit him anymore. So he bought her back from a gallery in St. Gallen. After he had picked them up there, he crossed the Großglockner on his way home to Venice. At the roadside was still the snow. Music stopped, got out of the car and buried the leaves under the snow. This has its history in French and Central European culture: Jean Racine decreed that his estate should be burned; nothing was enough for his own radical claim. Likewise, Franz Kafka ordered to destroy his work, which fortunately was not carried out. The icy funeral of almost the entire edition of this series had already taken place in the fifties, as Music told me one morning in his studio. He saw me searching the ground for discarded leaves. And added that he also had watercolors from 1965, they were created in the Apennines, similarly withdrawn from circulation …
As an artist, Zoran Music was one of the quietest in the country. After his existential experience in Dachau, he could afford to ignore fashions and styles. He just did not care anymore about the many, which boasted each year as “new”. He also did not act against something. As a citizen of Venice, he, Ida on the arm, regularly visited the relevant exhibitions, especially in the Guggenheim Museum, a few steps from his domicile. As a citoyen of France, he cultivated the almost mystical friendship with President Mitterrand. Ida apparently painted him as he saw himself: as an enlightened one.
Ida, that was a world of her own: her breathtakingly beautiful works are infinitely far away from his own. No influence, no parallel. From the “chairs” to the occult Mitterrand pictures to the cruel Dionysian interpretations of Greek myths, which she most recently exhibited in the salt magazines of Venice. Ida was the counterworld that Zoran Music needed to survive. Worshiped as a woman, equally as an artist, mysteriously superior: she was the incarnation of his Venice, the city of fatality, of yearnings, of insight.
The circle closes: the old, almost blind master, blind as the seer Teiresias, blind as Homer, who looks back on his life from the balcony of the Palazzo Balbi-Valier, the sad-ironic guide and companion through many years, who no longer when I last passed by his noble figure in the vaporetto. He changed my life.