Iconic / people

Marija Braut

A good spirit of Zagreb

The Croatian photographer Marija Braut was one of those quiet people who loved to explore and document everything that surrounded her. Always with the camera in her hand, she could be seen daily walking around the streets of Zagreb. But, she was a lot more than a chronicler of a city. Her body of work included theatre photography, street photography, landscapes and portraits of some of the greatest artists as well as the general public. Marija Braut was born in Celje in 1929. She moved to Zagreb in 1941, where she finished high school and went to study at the Faculty of Architecture.

She started making photography at the age of 38, in order to make money after she left her husband and home. It was Tošo Dabac, one of the Croatian most significant photographers, who was her teacher and sent her out to take photos. Later, she became his associate. The first independent exhibition she made, along with the photographer Petar Dabac, was placed in the gallery SC in Zagreb, in 1969. From that day forward, she participated in more than a hundred group and solo exhibitions. At first, she worked for the galleries of the city of Zagreb (later, the Museum of Contemporary Art). Since 1971, she has worked as an independent photographer. 

Theatre photography 

Although she is mostly recognized for her photographs of Zagreb, she was a longtime photographer for a few domestic theatres like the Croatian National Theatre, Gavella Drama Theatre, Kerempuh and Dubrovnik Summer Festival. She was the photographer of the Dubrovnik Festival for 30 years. On one of those gigs, she met a cameraman Tomislav Pintar who was making the movie Sutjeska at the time, with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the leading roles. He asked her to be the official photographer of the movie and she agreed. Years later, she photographed Dubrovnik during the war. She needed to be involved and decided to do so with photography. Through her work, Marija Braut prevented the visceral images of war from fading away.

The portraits 

Over the years, Marija Braut made black and white portraits of many renowned people. She never “arranged” them. Her way of work was to do nothing and let them place themselves, calm down in their own pace. She waited for the right time to make a click.

One of the first photos she made was the photo of Tošo Dabac. He needed the photo for the new document. She was also the last to photograph him just an hour before he unexpectedly died. Some of the other people in front of her camera were painters Edo Murtić and Oton Gliha, sculptor Dušan Džamonja, conductor and composer Lovro Matačić, actor Ivica Vidović and many, many others.

The City of Zagreb 

The City of Zagreb was her endless inspiration. She lived on Gornji grad and always walked around waiting for the perfect moment. She photographed the city for over 40 years, documenting its change and conserving moments in its history as well as moments in life for people walking in front of her camera. A mist in the park, a view on the city roofs through the winter tree, a snowy Ilica at night, a main square through the flock of flying pigeons.

A few years before her death in 2015, at the age of 86, she was unable to continue working on her black and white photos, but she could still be seen around Zagreb holding her walking cane in one hand and a small digital camera in another. She was methodical in her work and life and left her photographs and negatives neatly organized to a few museums in Zagreb, including the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb City Museum and others. She got several awards for her work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Croatian Association of Artists of Applied Arts in 2008.

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