Serbian / English
Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti, Beograd, 1997. (346 str. 180 fotogr.). English summary
1/ Nagrada za Fotografski dogadjaj 1997. godine u srpskoj fotografiji;
2/ Nagrada "Pavle Vasic" za teorijski doprinos primenjenoj umetnosti u Srbiji, za 1997.
Vec od 1893. godine, kad je dobio zvanje dvorskog fotografa, atelje Milana Jovanovica na Obilicevom vencu uzivao je glas najboljeg. Bio je zboriste odabrane gradjanske publike, a njegov vlasnik okruzen znamenitim licnostima srpske kulture i nauke. Atelje je bio na Pozorisnom trgu, u ulici Obilicev venac br. 42, (preko puta spomenika Kneza Mihaila), stecistu kulturnog i javnog zivota Beograda, Bilo je to u kompleksu starih zgrada, a danas je na tom mestu zgrada Doma stampe (i knjizara "Beoizlog"). U ateljeu na Obilicevom vencu Milan Jovanovic je proveo polovinu svog radnog veka. Oko 1901/2. godine Jovanovic je zapoceo zidanje zgrade za novi atelje, po projektu arhitekte Milana Antonovica, u neposrednoj blizini (preko puta) dvora, u ulici Kralja Milana 46. Atelje je poceo sa radom u prolece 1903. godine. Zgrada u kojoj se nalazio drugi atelje Milana Jovanovica (danas bioskop "Zvezda") namenski je zidana za potrebe fotografa, kao "prva gradjevina takve namene u ondasnjoj Srbiji".
U prvom razdoblju Jovanoviceva fotografija je sasvim u skladu sa delovanjem i drugih fotografa u Srbiji. Atelje je osrednji, opremljen zavesama i oslikanim pozadinama i ne razlikuje se mnogo od ostalih ateljea u Beogradu. Glavna delatnost vezana je za portret, koji se ne istice osobenoscu, niti vrednoscu prelazi granice osrednjosti i drugih ateljea. U tematskom pogledu prvo razdoblje obelezeno je iskljucivo gradjanskom fotografijom, i, delimicno, portretima glumaca, snimanim u maniru standardnih gradjanskih portreta. Atelje produkuje za to vreme uobicajene, u Evropi vec standardizovane velicine fotografija, formate carte de visite, cabinet i boudoir. Krajem prvog razdoblja, tekst na reversima fotografija, 1892. godine, reklamira ponudu Jovanovicevih fotografija "sa vedutama Beograda i okoline", iz cega se moze zakljuciti da je pocetkom devedesetih godina Jovanovic zapoceo i eksterijerna snimanja. To je vreme sazrevanja i trazenja, ali i vidnog napredovanja.
Fotografije u drugom razdoblju su na najvisem nivou profesionalne fotografije onoga doba a Jovanovicev atelje kvalitetom rada superiorno prevazilazi sve druge beogradske ateljee. Sredinom razdoblja, izmedju 1896. i 1900, Jovanovic delimicno prihvata neke odlike secesije ali ne kao dominantni izraz; prisustvo stila naglasenije je u opremi ateljea i ornamentici na kartonima za fotografije nego u likovnoj strukturi samih fotografskih dela.
Osnova celokupnog delovanja Milana Jovanovica, za dve i po decenije rada, bio je portret. Uvid u brojna sacuvana dela pokazuje da su, u ranom razdoblju, pred njegovom kamerom pozirali predstavnici raznih drustvenih slojeva. Njegova publika je urbano stanovnistvo Beograda s razmedje dva veka. Dobijanjem zvanja dvorskog fotografa Jovanovic postaje fotograf bogatijeg gradjanskog sloja. Portreti dvorskih lica, kao i uloga dvorskog fotografa obezbedjivali su mu drustveni ugled a verovatno i prestiznu ulogu u ekonomskom smislu, u odnosu na druge srpske fotografe. Medjutim, predmet njegovog najveceg interesovanja, moglo bi se reci i neke vrste opsesije, bili su portreti poznatih i zasluznih savremenika, pre svega ljudi iz teatra, glumaca, reditelja, a potom i knjizevnika, slikara, novinara, naucnika. Tokom 25 godina rada, snimio je gotovo sve velike srpske glumce, knjizevnike, muzicare, slikare i vajare, naucnike, novinare, clanove Akademije, licnosti najzasluznije za Srbiju u poslednjoj deceniji 19-og i prvoj deceniji narednog veka.
Milan Jovanovic je znatno uticao da slika o srpskom glumistu sa razmedje vekova otme od zaborava i dopre do naseg vremena, ali je jednako ta slika ostavljala i na njega dubok trag. Otuda u pozoristu treba traziti i jedan od kljuceva za razumevanje Jovanovicevog rada. Tu je pokazao sve kljucne faze svoga rada, od pocetnih u kojima je njegov izraz samo rudimentaran, preko svih faza portreta sa oslikanim pozadinama, potom bele i tamne game - do portreta znamenitih savremenika. Jednako tako, jos i vise, kroz pozorisnu fotografiju ispoljio je svoje razumevanje za transpoziciju zivota u umetnost.
Pre nego je stampanje fotografija po polutonskom kliseu doprlo do beogradskih stamparija, Jovanovic je snimao, proizvodio i nudio zainteresovanima neku vrstu razgledica formata kabinet sa originalnim fotografijama. Jovanovic je objavljivao u sopstvenoj produkciji ili kod drugih izdavaca, dva tipa razglednica: vedute i panorame, i vaznije javne zgrade Beograda; portrete beogradskih javnih radnika, naucnika, knjizevnika, glumaca. Vec oko 1896. godine Jovanovic je izdavao sopstvene razglednice "Pozdrav iz Beograda", u kombinaciji stampe i originalne fotografije, i u velicini standardnih postanskih karata.
Milan Jovanovi} je izdavac prve serije gradskih motiva u formatu kabinet pre 1892. godine, sto je kao slikovni izvor od izuzetne kulturnoistorijske vrednosti. Prvi je uveo formu fotografske razglednice u Srbiju, najdoslednije joj bio privrzen u prvoj deceniji njenog radjanja, i time se svrstao i medju njene evropske pionire.
Serbian Academy Science and Arts, Belgrade, 1997. English summary.
(Awarded: 1/ Event of the Year 1997 in Serbian Photography;
2/ The "Pavle Vasic" award, for 1997.
Milan Jovanovic worked in Belgrade for twenty-seven years, up to the start of first World War in 1914, when with his family he left Belgrade, first for Nis, then Skoplje and finally for Florence. After the war, Jovanovic returned to Serbia but was no longer active as a photographer. His last years were spent comfortably in his home in Belgrade where he died at the age of eighty on 17 March 1944.
Already in 1893 when he was appointed court photographer, Jovanovicís studio in the main city center enjoyed the reputation of being the best one in this profession. He was surrounded by the elite of Belgradeís middle-class and eminent personalities in Serbian culture and the academic world. His studio was in the proximity of most newspaper offices and the centers of public life in the city. Like all other photographers, Jovanovic pointed out in his newspaper advertisements that his studio was located in the heart of the city within the complex of important buildings and landmarks such as National Theater and the statue of Serbian Prince Mihailo.
Milan Jovanovic spent half of his working years in this studio. Sometime in 1902, he began erecting a building to house his new studio, according to a plan drawn up by the architect Milan Antonovic. The plot of land chosen for this building was opposite the royal palace in King Milan Street. The studio was ready for occupancy in 1903. This building was architecturally designed to meet the needs of a photographer and was thus the finest such edifice in the Serbia of that time.
The twenty-seven years of Jovanovicís activities can best be viewed if they are divided into three periods. In the first period, Jovanovicís photographs are fully in line with those of other practitioners in Serbia. His studio was of average size, furnished with draperies and background scenery and differed little from other studios in Belgrade. Thematically, this first period was characterized exclusively by photos of city folk and occasionally of theatrical personalities done in the standard fashion of that time. Towards the end of this period in 1892, the texts on the reverse side of the photos advertized the studioís offers of "views of Belgrade and surroundings" which leads to the conclusion that already in the early nineties Jovanovic had begun photographing exterior scenes.
At the outset of the second period, in 1893, Jovanovic was awarded the title of court photographer of the King of Serbia and three years later the same honour was conferred on him by the Prince Nikola of Montenegro. In addition to the individual portraits of urban personalities, Jovanovic devoted a good deal of attention to photographing eminent personages in the cultural and public fields of life. An important aspect of his work at this time was the photographing of stage actors in the costumes they wore for their roles. At this time, too, he intensified his interest in photographing the urban environment of Belgrade and occasionally taking snapshots of ethnological interest.
The photos of this second period can be said to be of the highest professional level attained at that time with Jovanovi}ís studio qualitatively surpassing all the other Belgrade studios. Between 1896 and 1900 Jovanovi} partially adopted some features of the Secession art period but not as a dominant influence. The presence of this style was more to be seen in the studioís equipment and ornamentation on the cardboard side of the photos than in the actual pictorial structure of his work.
The third period after 1903, reflects Jovanovicís highest achievements. He set the utmost standards for his photographs by making them technically and aesthetically flawless, a trait that other studios could not match. He continued with his work on individual portraits which he rid of all unnecessary details. Occasionally he produced photographs in a lighter tone but more because of his clientsí wishes and fashionable trends than as the result of his personal inclinations. In this way, in a series of portraits of his contemporaries, he attained the highest reaches of his art. Besides the portraiture, he produced a large number of views of the city of Belgrade intended as postcards to be put out by various publishers. He also continued his cooperation with the National Theater which consisted mainly of individual or group portraits of the actors and actresses. He left the photographing of stage performances to other photographers.
The basic of Jovanovicís quarter century work was portraiture. The numerous works in this field show that his sitters came from various social strata, but mainly from the urban population. When he was appointed court photographer, Jovanovic became the preferred photographer of the wealthier middle-class. By making portraits of persons attached to the royal court, Jovanovic gained social prestige and with it financial success, as compared with other Serbian practitioners of the art. Milan Jovanovi} was a court photographer of three royal dynasties: Serbian - the Obrenovic and the Karadjordjevic and Montenegrin - the Petrovic.
Throughout his professional career, Milan Jovanovic was a close observer of the activities of the National Theater in Belgrade and spent a good deal of time in the company of the theaterís principal performers or in portraiting them in their roles. Jovanovic manifested the spirit of an interested creator, a lover of the theater and its protagonists. His activities connected with the theater can best be judged by his photographs of the actorsí roles and the photos of backstage life. Among the individual portraits of special excellence are those of Milos Cvetic, Milorad Gavrilovic, Pera Dobrinovic, Dobrica Milutinovic and others.
It can be said that Jovanovic paid special attention to the female personalities of the stage, such as Zorka Todosic, Desanka Djordjevic and Sofija Coca Dordjevic who seemed to be his favourite sitters because he photographed them in series. But above all, his camera seemed to favour Vela Nigrinova more than all the others. It is indeed a pleasure to follow the imaginative interest with which he photographed this actress in a variety of ways and with an inventiveness that exceeded the obligations called for by a professional task.
Milan Jovanovic succeeded in preserving for future generations the images of the Serbian theater at the turn of the century. At the same time his interest in the theater left a deep imprint on his own work. That is why we have to find in the theater one of the keys to an understanding of his work. It was precisely through theatrical photography - the portraits, group and genre-scenes - that Jovanovic manifested all the vital phases of his work, from the earliest one of a rudimentary nature through the portraiture phases with backgrounds, the light and dark tones, to the portraits of eminent contemporaries. In this way, by means of theatrical photography he revealed his conception and understanding of the act of transposing life into art.
A considerable portion of Jovanovicís activities included photographing exteriors, mainly the views and panoramas, and ethno-photos. He began with the various Belgrade localities around the year of 1890. Before printing by semi-ton clichťs reached the Belgrade printers, Jovanovic produced and offered for sale a kind of postcard of the format "cabinet" of original photos that Jovanovic published himself or at other publishers. By 1896 already, Jovanovic was using his own postcards called "Greetings from Belgrade" in a printed and photographic combination and in the standard postcard size.
The portraits of contemporaries on postcards were another form of Jovanovicís activities. The list of preserved portraits is very impressive as it contains those of the National Theater actors and actresses, writers, composers, scientists and many other. Milan Jovanovic was the publisher of the first series of city motifs which have an exceptional cultural and historical value. He was the first to introduce the form of the photographic postcard into Serbia and was consistently dedicated to it in the first decade of its appearance thereby ranking himself among its first European pioneers in this field.
The cities of Vienna, Munich and Paris were the centers of European photography in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Jovanovic spent at least one decade in these centers, learning the secrets of his profession and acquiring some experience of life as well. When he later returned to his native land, Serbian photography relied to a large extent on foreign models, the same ones that influenced Jovanovic but which reached Serbia in an indirect way. The complexity of the features which were reduced to local domestic ones, also reveal the basic influences that formed the personality and work of Milan Jovanovic.
Although he carefully followed what was happening in the world of photography, Jovanovic did not automatically adopt all the fashionable changes that were taking place. True, one can recognize some of the newer methods and technical procedures in this field in Jovanovicís products which he made use of, as for instance the Secessionist ornamentation. But he rapidly discarded these innovations, a fact that speaks of his curiosity for new facts rather than of any lasting addiction to visual effects which were alien to him in any case. To the very and, he remained true to himself, abiding by the method of photographic realism and pictorial purity.
It is well-know that Milan Jovanovic was also engaged in painting. It is not reliably know, however, whether he was self-taught or whether he learned to paint in his brother's studio and with his assistance. But it is a fact that he produced paintings in various techniques and with a great talent for observation. He did though paint mostly male and female portraits and, as a rule, most of them continued on from his photographic work in that they present the same studio appointments and reveal the same style. It would appear that Jovanovic was not expressly ambitious as a painter although it may be said he responded to the requests of his sitters and not to any inner personal need. Thus they are the manifestation of a craftsmanís ability and not of a desire to achieve artistic transpositions of reality. That is why his paintings have left no traces either among his contemporaries or later.
At the outset of his career, Milan Jovanovic was a photographer without a clear-cut individuality and he built up his work in keeping with the prevailing aesthetics of photography. But his creative powers led him to abandon the stagnating current manner, that did not open new vistas to the medium, by using the form of pure photography.
He worked on several themes at the same time: old Belgradeís cultural and public life which revealed the prominent faces of his day; the portraits of unknown Belgraders or else well-known historical personages and portraits of contemporaries, thus making him the witness of an epoch he portrayed in the best possible way.
The value of Milan Jovanovicís portraits, above all, is to be found not in individual examples but in its scope which indicates the authorís attitude towards the European, Serbian and Belgrade photographic atmosphere. It is in this relationship that we find Jovanovicís greatest authorial contribution. This signifies that he rejected the attitudes proferred by the well-know Viennese and Munich studios, avoided the artificial poses that could be seen on thousands of pretty but stereotyped and identical portraits produced in other studios, yet successfully linked the past and the present.
In comparison with his contemporaries, Jovanovic retained something of the soft vision of earlier times. Where his contemporaries were already using the new discoveries, for instance, that of electric lighting, Milan Jovanovic was a bit old-fashioned in using the blessings of sunlight. His portraits are both balanced in the use of tones which included even the last square millimeter of the edges of the photograph while his contemporaries were vying with each other in offering the greatest sharpness only in the center of the photograph. Again, in comparison with them, Jovanovic had something of the softness and fluidity of the previous epoch. This singles out his photographs but does not render them obsolete. In this he was both a significant and unique artist.
Milan Jovanovic belonged with his whole being to documentary photography and its realistic mode. He documented the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. At the same time, he left for posterity a photographic opus which surpasses a specific age and goes beyond the short duration of time. In this way, his work rises above its initial purpose and its utilitarian designation. It is work that transcends the constraints of its epoch by not adopting what did not correspond to his conceptions and feeling for photography. He caught the true essence of his century in views and panoramas of Belgrade and in the images of his contemporaries. In contrast to the other photographers of his day, Milan Jovanovic knew more, visited more metropolises, lived in them and imbibed the spirit and art of Europe. This enabled him to introduce into Serbian photography more than others could.
Regarded as a whole, Milan Jovanovicís photographs chronologically belong to the end of one century and the beginning of the next. But if we have characterized him as an artist who sought his own solutions, it must also be said that his work owes much to the past as well. By being one step ahead of his generation he, at the same time, carried within himself much of the spirit of photography of the previous Obrenovic epoch, some of its pale shadows, the warm texture of its fabrics and the soft tonal transitions. Likewise, he carried over something of the tradition of the previous generations of photographers and the taste and style of the epoch to which his work did not belong. From this bond between his own experiences and searchings, he created images which are so close to us today.
With his unique opus, Milan Jovanovic belongs to a group of great Serbian photographers who blazed a path to what was new, such as Anastas Jovanovic did before him or Rista Marjanovic after him. But it was only Milan Jovanovic to whom it was given to span two centuries, thus depicting not only Serbian photography but also Serbian culture. He has helped us to see what our forbears were like, how they experienced their times, what they liked, what their dreams were and to what they aspired, thus helping us to learn much about their times.
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