The book Sergije Glumac: Graphic Arts, Graphic Design, Set Design (Sergije Glumac: grafika, grafički dizajn, scenografija) is based on the PhD thesis by Lovorka Magaš Bilandžić, assistant professor at Department of Art History at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, and it represents the first monograph dedicated to one of the most important names of the Croatian art scene in the interwar period. Sergije Glumac (Uzhhorod, Ukraine, 1903 – Zagreb, 1964) did not limit himself only to painting, though; he was also active in graphic arts, graphic design as well as set design. This text focuses on the part of his oeuvre related to his work on film.
Promotional videos for Mosinger film, the opening of Edison Palace Cinema, and a collaboration with Warner Bros; these are the greatest contributions of Sergije Glumac to the history of advertising for Croatian film industry. He is also counted alongside Otto Antonini, Andrija Maurović, Oton Postružnik and Zvonimir Faist as one of the most significant designers of film posters. Sergije Glumac’s works were formed somewhere between Zagreb, Berlin and Paris, where he went several times for educational purposes. Thanks to his stay in the epicentre of the avant-garde movement, there are influences from expressionism, futurism, cubism and constructivism which can be clearly felt in his work. Upon his return to Zagreb, he started working on marketing campaigns and advertisements for the Imago agency, slowly honing his designing skills, skills that would set completely new standards in the world of newspaper advertising of the day. In these works, there are hints of what he would later come to use in his work on film posters – e.g. in his ad series for Vinicky Fur Store, he makes use of peculiar framing to accentuate the image of the modern woman, while his campaign for the Friedmann clothing brand makes use of time as a cinematic category.
There were several well-equipped film theatres in interwar Zagreb (Croatia, Europa Palace, Gradjanski, Metropol, Music Hall and Olimp Ton-kino), where latest Hollywood hits were being screened, at the same time as in other European large cities. It is also the beginning of the sound film era, when film projectors started to pose a considerable threat to the theatre. The tickets were much more affordable, and the pictures soon became the favourite form of entertainment for all social classes. In that period, there were several specialised film magazines in Zagreb (Kinofon, Film, Kino, Cinema and Filmska revija) where film ads and posters were being published, with even some theatre-orientated magazines like Kulisa including writings about film.
In the autumn of 1927, a famous photographer Franjo Mosinger became the photo editor in Kulisa, otherwise owned by one of the first photojournalists in Croatia, Teodor Rona. Franjo’s brother Vilim (Willy) Mosinger was the head of the family-owned Mosinger film, one of the main film distribution companies in interwar Croatia, and he was in close professional contact with the Warner Bros enterprise. The story of Sergije Glumac’s collaboration with Mosinger film starts at the end of 1920’s, when he—and painter and graphic artist Pavao Gavranić—created a number of striking advertisements for the coming opening of the Edison Palace Cinema and the premiere of the first talking picture, Warner-Bros-produced The Singing Fool (USA, 1928) by Lloyd Bacon. Glumac was commissioned for the job most probably owing to his business connections to Franjo Mosinger, having done posters and the catalogue design for his exhibition Moderna fotografija (‘Modern Photography’) held at Salon Ulrich in 1927, and also being the designer behind the visual identity for Mosinger’s studio in the city centre, featuring a rather particular typography and the playful motive of camera lens opening.
The premiere of The Singing Fool was a perfect occasion for the opening of Edison Palace Cinema (what is today Tuškanac) at the renovated premises of the former City Arsenal. The cinema, described in Kulisa magazine as furbished in the style as ‘Berlin’s largest luxury cinemas’, opened to the public on February 10, 1930, under the artistic direction of Croatian composer, writer and painter Ivo Tijardović. The opening was being advertised all over Zagreb with Glumac’s exciting colour-rich poster, featuring two men opening the doors to the cinema, as Magaš Bilandžić writes, shaped in the way that it catches the eye and shows the importance of the new film screening venue: the difference in size between the doors and the characters served to stress the monumental cinema space, while the crown in the cinema title was indicative of its royal character among other Zagreb cinemas.
Furthermore, Glumac made several advertisements for the film as well as the opening night which were published in daily press, Jutarnji list and Novosti; one shows an elegant lady in a fur coat, with her back turned, looking at a stage from up high, with uniform visitors lined up in front of it, while the other turns attention to the staircase and the red carpet leading to the entrance, its monumental size further accentuated by a low angle of view. The poster for the opening of the Edison Palace Cinema (in lithography) is housed as part of the poster collection at the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU). The promotional materials Glumac made are considered today as one of the most successful ones to advertise a film event in the interwar period.
Glumac’s work for Mosinger film would not be complete without a reference to his poster for Frank Lloyd’s The Divine Lady (USA, 1928). What is more, in the mid-1930’s, when Glumac collaborated with Warner Bros, it was the third-biggest American film studio (following Paramount and MGM), specialised in melodrama, musicals, gangster films and bio-pictures. The correspondence that we have today shows that Glumac’s cooperation with Warner Bros started at the end of 1936, and it included catalogue and cover design, perhaps even poster design. The artist’s legacy includes a great quantity of numbered pencil and charcoal-drawn outlines, preliminary sketches for posters and publications, apparently advertising most significant titles of the 1936-37 season.