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Hlebine School

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A term applied to Yugoslav (Croatian) naive painters working in or around the village of Hlebine, near the Hungarian border, from about 1930. At this time, according to the World Encyclopedia of Naive Art (1984), the village amounted to little more than ‘a few muddy winding streets and one-storey houses’, but it produced such a remarkable crop of artists that it became virtually synonymous with Yugoslav naive painting. The school developed from the encouragement given by Krsto Hegedušić to the young Ivan Generalić, whom he met in 1930. Generalić in turn encouraged his friends Franjo Mraz (1910–81; likewise a native of Hlebine) and Mirko Virius (1889–1943, who came from the nearby village of Djelekovac), and these three, sometimes known as the ‘Hlebine Trio’, formed the nucleus of the group. Hegedušić encouraged them to paint scenes of social protest in line with his own left-wing political views, but after the Second World War, Hlebine painters concentrated more on idyllic depictions of country life (the post-war phase is sometimes characterized as ‘second Hlebine School’). Generalić continued to be the dominant figure, and the younger artists included his son Josip.

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