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 Maximilian (Maxo) Vanka  (1889 - 1963)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Croatia/Mexico      Known for: landscape, portrait, mural, still life

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Ad Code: 3
Maximilian (Maxo) Vanka
from Auction House Records.
Canal Near Phillips Mill in a Ben Badura frame
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Nikola Vizner who is writing a book on Vanka, to be published in U. S. and Croatia. Vizner is an art historian, teaching Art History at the Touro College in New York City.

Born: Zagreb, Croatia, October 11, 1889
Died: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Feb. 2, 1963

Until 1934 lived in Zagreb, Croatia, where he was a professor of painting at the Academy of fine Arts; In 1934 came to the U.S., lived in New York City; In 1941 moved to Rushland, PA, Bucks County, lived there until his death; he drowned in the Pacific Ocean while vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

He painted landscapes, portraits, folklore compositions, etc. His style ranges from impressionistic landscapes, still-lifes to expressionistic compositions.

In 1937, he painted large mural frescoes in St. Nicholas Church in Millvale, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He came to finish the church murals in 1941 with additional compositions, twenty-two in all.

He had several one-man shows in U.S.
1934 at Marie Sterner Galleries in New York City
1939 at New York's Newhouse Galleries
1957 at New York's Charles Barzansky Gallery

He had many one-man as well as group exhibits in Bucks County in Pennsylvania;
March - June 2001 retrospective exhibition
"The Gift of Sympathy" at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA
The exhibit remains at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center until January 20, 2002.

A catalog with a biography of the artist and several essays on his work was published for the exhibitions, and the authors were Nikola Vizner and David Leopold. Writer Louis Adamic published a novel "Cradle of Life" (New York, Harpers Brothers, 1936), a lightly fictionalized account of Vanka's birth and youth; in 1938 Adamic published "My America 1928 - 1938" which includes a chapter, "My Friend Maxo Vanka". In April, Adamic published an excerpt of the profile in "Harper's Magazine" detailing Vanka's work on the Millvale's Murals, and the legend of the "Millvale Apparition".

Vanka was naturalized as an American citizen in 1940.

Most of his works are in possession of his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA has a formidable collection of his works; There is a large collection of his work in Modern Gallery, Zagreb, Croatia, as well as in the Memorial Museum Maximilian Vanka in Korcula, Croatia.

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