Born in 1924 in Osijek (Yugoslavia), Julije Knifer is considered to be one of Croatia’s most prominent contemporary artists. He studied at Zagreb’s Academy of Fine Arts, from which he graduated in 1957, winning first prize. In the same year, he travelled to Paris, where he was influenced by the work of François Morellet. In the 1960s, he was one of the founders of the Gorgona Group, a group of intellectuals brought together by their rejection of dogmatism. Around the same time, he painted his first “meander”, a motif which would dominate all of his oeuvre.
The meander—which became one of the defining symbols of Zagreb’s famously avant-garde art scene—is an endlessly variable geometric form, a maze-like shape of horizontal and vertical switchbacks that is almost always rendered in black and white. It was the vehicle through which he explored time, rhythm and repetition. He worked with paint, collage and murals, making meanders in various sizes, including one on a 20 x 30 m canvas in a quarry in Tübingen (Germany). In 1994 he moved to Paris, where he lived until his death in 2004.