Jagoda Buić

1930 | Split, Croatia (before Yugoslavia)
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Yugoslav textile and visual artist.

Textile environments, weaving theory, theatrical performance, and cultural heritage compose the artistic milieu of Jagoda Buić. Born in Split, Croatia (then part of the former Yugoslavia), J. Buić grew up in an intellectual, politically active household. She studied theatrical design and art history at the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb and Zagreb University, before pursuing further studies in scenography, costume, and interior design in Vienna and Rome. The formative postwar period led the artist to reflect on the relation between design, order, and structure; these aesthetic deliberations continually resurfaced in her artwork. In a political environment that elevated national folklore and cultural production, J. Buić embraced public stages for her art early in her career. She designed costumes and sets for the national theatre in Split, won a silver medal at the 1957 Milan Triennial, and represented Yugoslavia in government- sponsored exhibitions touring Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. She first approached what she termed a ‘tapestry situation’ around 1960, timing the weaving of a monumental tapestry for the Federal Executive Council in Belgrade with Josip Broz Tito’s birthday and youth festival marathon in 1961; she created a second tapestry, imbued with allegorical significance suggesting a return to native roots, for the presidential residence in 1963.

Drawn to the poetics of raw materials and processes, J. Buić experimented with textile structures, objects, and ‘situations’ throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She defended the autonomy of woven objects, claiming to formulate a new aesthetic approach drawn from the symbolism of the mythological Ariadne, in which fibre strands signified conduits for independent thought. J. Buić theorized her manipulation of wool threads as ‘interweaving’, a concept that conjured the pliability of the mind and the ability to structure and restructure one’s imaginative processes. She combined interweaving with empty space to create surface structures, textures, and voids. She also drew inspiration from the Dalmatian land, its people, and ancient Slavic roots. Often staging her work in the landscape, she created images depicting herself collaborating with rural women weavers and dyers (whom she publicly acknowledged), hiking through meadows with sheep, and riding on horseback through textile environments. J. Buić’s dramatization of fibre’s metaphoric potential could be perceived as signifying cultural self-determination; her woven works served as backdrops for leading officials of the non-alignment movement. Her artistic philosophy and monumental forms, moreover, characterized New Tapestry practices focused on fibre’s spatial possibilities and conceptual dimensions. J. Buić participated in the Lausanne International Tapestry Biennial, prominent two-woman shows with Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017), and other important group exhibitions, such as the 1971- 1972 Deliberate Entanglements in Los Angeles and five other North American cities.

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Jessica Gerschultz

As published in Women in Abstraction © 2021 Thames & Hudson Ltd, London

Jagoda Buić — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Jagoda Buić, Dubrovnik, 1973, wool, 80 x 64 cm, private collection

Jagoda Buić — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Jagoda Buić, The Sail, 1971, wool and sisal, 300 x 251 cm, private collection

Jagoda Buić — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Jagoda Buić, Orpheus, 1972, wool, sisal and metallic thread, 297 × 114 × 3 cm, TATE

Jagoda Buić — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Jagoda Buić, Fallen Angel, 1967, wool, hemp and sisal, 240 x 224 cm, TATE

Jagoda Buić — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Jagoda Buić, Sans titre, 5 overlapping pieces of tapestry, Paris musée d’Art Moderne, © Photo : Paris Musée d’Art Moderne, Dist RMN-Grand Palais / image ville de Paris

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