When Zlatko Bourek's Storyboard Was Exhibited at MOMA

When Zlatko Bourek's Storyboard Was Exhibited at MOMA

Giannalberto Bendazzi describes him thus in his Animation: A World History: "more than an animation director: a theatrical scene designer and a painter" (read about his puppet theatre work).

Zlatko Bourek (4 Sep 1929- 14 May 2018) seems to be all of that and more. He graduated from the Fine Arts Academy as a sculptor, and his works Blacksmith's Apprentice (1961),  Kapetan Arbanas Marko (1967),  The Cat (1971), still resonate with modern audiences.

In a very impressive movement (considering the Cold War climate of the era), The Museum of Modern Art in New York hosted an exhibition during 1968  (January 17– March 3, 1968) with the title "The Art of the Animator: The Storyboard". Two sketches and storyboards were presented: Zlatok Burek's Far Away i Saw Mist  (1964), and Pavao Stalter's (then in-progress) The Mask of the Red Death (1969).

Far Away i Saw Mist and Mud (Videl sam daljine meglene i kalne) is  based on the famous book of Miroslav Krleža, The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh, which details the wars over the territory of Croatia against the Ottoman Turks. The film was a contender for the Palme D'Or for a short film at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival.

Looking through the 1968 press release, we detect Boris Kolar, another of the leading members of Zagreb Film, annotating the exhibition:

Once it is finished, a storyboard becomes  a model and guide for making the film itself.  But it is also something more:  the  artist, transferring his idea into storyboard  form, expresses it in visual terms rather than verbal and is therefore also forced to think primarily in terms of  pictures, which is of fundamental importance in the animated film medium.  The  animated film »story»  is most often not written out in words, it is the 'story*  first.  It emerges as the result of making a storyboard  and cannot be separated  from it,"  The technique is not, of course, limited  to the field of animation; live action films often use a storyboard  to plan individual sequences.

And the text continues to describe Zlatko Bourek's drawings and storyboard:

"Far Away I Saw Mist and Mud..." was made by Zlatko Bourek in I963. He adapted the scenario from the poems of a contemporary Croatian writer, Miroslav Krieza,  The story deals with the wars that followed the Turkish invasion of the Balkans, and  Bourek, who has a gift for mordant, surreal satire, has tried to recapture the nightmare qualities of the original in his drawings, Zlatko Bourek was one of the group that founded  the Zagreb Film Studio in 1956. He graduated as a sculptor from the Art Academy in Zagreb, where he lives and works  as a designer, painter and graphic artist in both film and theatre.

The Art of the Storbyoard Installation View, Jan 1968 (c) The Museum of Modern Art


Read the complete 1968 MOMA Press release.

Bourek remained professionally active throughout his life; in 2014, he collaborated again with Pavao Štalter on the acclaimed, award-winning film Wiener Blut, which drew its visual inspiration from the art of Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. He also wrote and directed three fiction films: Cirkus Rex, Crvenkapica, and Mr. Ventriloquist.

In 2010, he became a full member of the Department of Fine Arts at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 2015, Animafest Zagreb featured a retrospective programme dedicated to Zlatko Bourek, while his film Wiener Blut screened that same year.

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