Ivan Generalic, Croatian (1914 - 1992)

Born in Hlebine, a small village in Croatian region Podravina, on 21st Dec 1914.

In his childhood, while his friends played hide-and-seek, he used a small branchlet to make drawings in the sand. From that time until he died he never separated from a pencil or a brush.
In elementary scholl he liked painting lessons the most and his greatest joy was a sketch-book. The least he liked maths. As a child, to earn money for his painting material, he went to bowling and set up skittles for the players.

Mostly he drew with pencil on paper bags in his uncle’s store. Those drawings were seen there by professor Krsto Hegedusic, in that time (1930) a student of art academy, who exclaimed: “This is superb! Who did it?!” The historic meeting between Hegedusic and young Ivan Generalic happened soon after that, as well as Ivan’s first public exhibition in Zagreb Art pavillion in 1931. This first contact with citizens and positive critiques led to a new era of not only Croatian art, but world one as well, as history showed us.

In 1934 he married with Anka Kolarek and got son Josip in 1936. He spent 1938 in military service and becomes the member of ULUH (society of Croatian artists) in 1945. In 1953 he exhibited in Paris, where he lived and painted for two months. He visited many museums and galleries, admiring Mona Lisa in Louvre the most, as he said. Of all beautiful critiques he received for his work, the one from French novelist and critic he liked the most. Marcel Arlan wrote: “He was born by the land.  He posesses it’s sweetness, wisdom and charm. And he needs no other guides.” In 1959 he painted “The deer wedding” – his most valuable work, according to evaluation of people who were following Croatian naive art for a long time.

When asked why is he painting, Ivan Generalic replies: “I don’t know, as I wouldn’t know to answer why I live.” He just didn’t know how to live without painting.

In 1975, after his wife Anka died, he moved to Sigetec, a village next to Hlebine where he married for a second time and lived there till the end. Some consider this moment as a turnpoint in his career as things were never the same in naive art movement as before.
Ivan Generalic has a large number of followers, beside his coleagues which form The first generation – Franjo Mraz and Mirko Virius. The members of the second generation are Franjo Filipovic, Dragan Gazi, Josip Generalic, Mijo Kovacic, Martin Mehkek and Ivan Vecenaj. There are even more members of The third and The fourth generation of naive art paintiers. Ivan Generalic thus spoke: “I am a general of my army!” He gave advice to many of those youg painters who used it in their favour and faster progress.

Ivan Generalic is the greatest Croatian naive art painter and one of the greatest world painters of this century.

Ivan Generalic died in Koprivnica on 27th November 1992 and has been buried in village Sigetec near Hlebine.

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