Bojana Popović
Art Historian, Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade


Journal 4/5/2008/2009 (Museum of Applied Art), pages 125-143

738:929 Јанковић Д. ; 738:969.51(497.11)”1987”

Abstract (original language):
Na retrospektivnoj izložbi Dušana Jankovića (1894–1950), održanoj u Muzeju primenjene umetnosti u Beogradu 1987. godine, bila su izložena i izabrana dela iz oblasti keramike i porcelana. Autor izložbe, prof. dr Vladimir Rozić, ih je datovao, utvrdio karakteristike i ukazao na njihov značaj u kontekstu celokupnog umetnikovog opusa. Namera ovog teksta je da detaljnije razmotri ovu Jankovićevu isključivo parisku aktivnost i da predstavi te predmete i dokumentaciju koji se čuvaju u Muzeju primenjene umetnosti.

Key words: (original language)
Dušan Janković, keramika, porcelan, Nacionalna manufaktura porcelana u Sevru, Međunarodna izložba moderne primenjene i industrijske umetnosti u Parizu 1925, ornament, ar deko

Dušan Janković (1894-1950) studied painting at the École National des Arts Décoratifs while he lived in Paris (1916- 1935) at the same time when Art Deco was thriving. This style was mostly focused on ornaments which makes understandable why Janković was so concentrated on its development. As it was customary at that time he would apply variants of an ornament to different media – ceramics, porcelain, wall decoration, carpets, clothes, posters etc. Janković created a particular set of motifs inspired by Serbian and Macedonian folk art already as senior student in 1920 and 1921. This approach made him belong to that huge, international group of Art Deco creators whose aim was to stylize folk art motifs and transform them into modern and applicable designs for fashionably modeled objects. By 1921 the work of Janković was assessed as progressive achievement in Yugoslav decorative art and a step toward “a general and world art”. It was the way Janković linked the local aspect with the universal and the traditional one with the contemporary that made his work recognizable and to the liking of his Paris clients.

Dušan Janković made his first artistic steps in 1917 when he went to Paris. There he cooperated with Atelier Serbe de Paris where decorative and functional faience, porcelain and ceramics objects were manufactured or just decorated. During the 1920s he was most active in creating porcelain and ceramic objects among other works. Besides art items which he personally designed, manufactured and decorated, he made designs for the Parisian porcelain factory Bloch et Fils in 1923 (it has not been possible to document cooperation with this factory) and from 1924 until 1932/1933 his designs were used in decorating various objects in Manufacture nationale de Sévres. The work of Dušan Janković was highly appreciated by the Manufacture nationale so much so that the long-time manager Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard published in the album representing modern production of Sévres three objects decorated after designs of Dušan Janković. (Fig. 8, 9, 10)

The Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade keeps quite a number of designs for porcelain and ceramics objects and only two realized works by Janković. The designs are for plates, decorative boxes, vases and tableware. They indicate not only the gift of Janković to observe motifs and their colouration correlation in folk art objects which he transformed into modern Art Deco expression with minimum of intervention but also of his ability to change and open to modernistic trends which were invigorating during the second half of the 1920s in France.

In 1924 and 1925 Dušan Janković exhibited his ceramic and porcelain objects in Paris. At the group exhibition held in Panardie gallery in 1924 he displayed his ceramics together with paintings by four French women artists. In the following year at the Expositions Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes his works were displayed both at the exhibition space of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and that of Manufacture nationale de Sévres. As representative of the Kingdom and due to the reputation he enjoyed in Paris, at this exhibition Janković was elected the vice-president of the international jury for ceramics.

After he moved to Belgrade in 1935 Dušan Janković discontinued working with ceramics and porcelain. Ceramic art was at the beginning in Serbia of the time, there were no porcelain factories and this made products designs superfluous. In 1930s there appeared new trends in experimenting with sculptural and pictorial potentialities of ceramics. Janković had no affinity for such an approach. He used different media to shape and decorate objects in accordance with their function and not to translate characteristics of one medium into another. Dušan Janković was a professional applied artist and designer whose work exceeded by far the habits and needs of the inter-two-World- Wars Serbia. This is particularly true of his work with ceramics, porcelain and fashion.

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