Zlatko Zlatić Collection

Mutual dependence between humans and animals, as the basis of survival, is reflected in art. Since prehistory men have drawn and created animals using various materials and thus transferred their knowledge and understanding of the subject, or shown their admiration for animal shapes or their flexibility. By observing and studying animal behavior artists have learned about animal character, typical activities and movements and shared their perceptions through their artwork.

While many an artist has at least once in his career portrayed animals, the number of artists systematically dealing with them is much lower. Croatian sculptor Zlatko Zlatić, whose sole interest has only been animals since 1975, definitely belongs to the latter category.

Naturally, it all started in early childhood while playing with the animals around and observing their behaviour. The awareness of their common features, basic traits that make them recognizable has gradually deepened and thus turned them into a typical shape, into a sculpture.

Simplification has retained the typical shape of a particular species, as a contour, a silhouette in space, but the lack of details has not diminished recognisability. On the contrary, it has become clearer, more perceptible.

Zlatić’s cats, puppies, frogs, birds, snails, camels and giraffes…have almost become signs, symbols that need no further explanation. Their inner cheerfulness immediately reaches out to the viewers. We all recognize them, know them….They involve our whole experience and perception of them. That is the way we perceive flocks of birds, rhinos, goat, elephants….familiar and exotic animals.

It is worth mentioning that these are mainly small scale sculptures in polished bronze and marble whose shiny surfaces have transformed well-known figures into small “valuables” that we have to take care of and keep near us, just like their live models. They are “Our friends” as the name of the exhibitions announced until 2005 when Zlatko Zlatić donated the sculptures to Zagreb, his hometown. The decision to have them on display in the refurbished premises at Zagreb Zoo has developed another bond between life and art with the hope of enriching our visitors.