'Sunset Over the Pacific'
Alexander Dzigurski, who is known for his
seascapes, landscapes, and some portraiture, is associated with the art of
California, although he was born in the farming community of Backa,
located in Stari Becej, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The son
of a wheat farmer, he was one of four siblings. Alexander's father
considered his son's artistic desires an unproductive pursuit; contrarily,
his mother was most interested in her son's talent, and understood her
son's wishes to extend his abilities beyond the farm.
assistance from the Serbian Church, he went to Belgrade, where he lived at
the Rakovica Monastery and attended the School of Art. He painted
portraits for private families and did restorations of old iconostases as
means of support. After graduating at age 18 in 1929, he continued his
studies at Munich's Academy of Art. Then, for two years he volunteered in
the King's Navy (Kingdom of Yugoslavia) beginning in 1939. His experiences
provided his first works of his sea paintings.
After this military
period, he married his high school sweetheart. A daughter was born in
1933, and he soon opened "Zograf", his first studio. In 1941, Dzigurski
was activated into the Yugoslav army, communications division. Several
weeks later, Hitler's army took most of his unit prisoner. Dzigurski
managed to escape. Yugoslavia continued to be dissolved by the Germans,
thus forcing Dzigurski to relinquish his successful studio and he departed
to Italy. In 1949, the Dzigurski's departed Naples and arrived in New York
harbor aboard the "Marine Jumper".
His former Yugoslav professor
introduced the family into the Serbian Orthodox Church community. Familiar
with Alexander's work, the Bishop had him paint icons (traditionally
Byzantine) for a small memorial chapel in Pennsylvania. He would later be
commissioned to paint the altars and interiors of nine Serbian Orthodox
churches between 1951 and 1960. His beautiful works were not signed,
remaining anonymous like most of the orthodox ecclesiastical painters
before him. Dzigurski viewed his art as a sacred craft, excluding the
intervention of human inventions.
By about 1952, Alexander settled
his family in California and began to paint seriously, particularly along
the coastlines of northern California and Oregon. His seascapes and
landscapes are most realistic and have broad appeal. His extensive US
travel can be seen in his works from the Smokies, the Grand Tetons, Mt.
Shasta, the Rockies, Glacier National Park, New England, and other coastal
areas. His paintings can be found in the Franklin Mint Museum of American
Art in Pennsylvania, the Republic Bank of Dallas, the Michigan Bank of
Chicago, Illinois, the Ravenswood Bank of Chicago, Illinois,
and at the
Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, Illinois.
Having become one
of America's well-known artists, Alexander Dzigurski died in 1995.
Source: Michael David Zellman, "300 Years of American Art"