Mira Brtka was born in 1930, in Novi Banovci (Yugoslavia). She received her secondary school diploma in Belgrade in 1949, then graduated from the faculty of film directing of Belgrade’s Academy of Theatre and Film in 1955. After that, she spent one year in Prague working as an assistant director, and lived in Rome from 1959 onwards. It was in that year that she applied to the department of painting of the Accademia di Belle Arti, where she studied in the class of Franco Gentilini and Professor Mino Maccari. During her painting studies, she took part in the making of a great number of animated films, documentaries, ads and feature films. Her first paintings were shown in Rome in 1965. Between 1966 and 1971, still living in Rome, she maintained ties with Belgrade: she translated, wrote articles and interviewed some of the most prominent critics, directors and artists of her time. She also had several shows in Yugoslavia during this time. She left Rome in 1971 and started a family with film director Dragan Kresoja, but kept her workshop in Rome until 2003 and made a place for herself in the pages of fashion history with her film costumes.
In 1967, she joined a five-member international art collective founded in Rome by Japanese painter Nobuya Abe. The name (“Illumination”) and aims of the group were inspired by Arthur Rimbaud’s book, Les Illuminations, as well as by haiku poetry and Zen philosophy. Its members were Marcia Hafif, Aldo Schmid, Milena Čubraković, Paolo Patelli and Mira Brtka. It was at that time that Brtka made her white paintings and geometric compositions sprawling over large monochrome surfaces. Towards the late 1960s, her painting shifted away from ethereal, meditative compositions towards hard-edge painting, which was when she painted Horizontal L (1969).