From Building A Toiletry Business Empire To Enriching Croatia’s Art Scene

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From his enrichment of his company “Filip Trade”, the leading firm in the sale and distribution of toiletries ranging from toothpaste to nappies, Tomislav Kličko decided to build another empire shifting his attention to collecting contemporary Croatian art. Repeatedly described as  a passionate art collector, he has amassed a large collection of modern and contemporary Croatian art since the early 1990s. This private collection is currently housed in “Lauba House for People and Art” museum located in Maksimir: one of Zagreb’s oldest neighbourhoods. Since Lauba’s opening in 2011, not only has it revived this neglected part of the city but it has also made a significant impact on the Croatian art scene. Kličko’s aim for Lauba is for it to be seen as a “laboratory for artistic expression” and a “place of cultural innovation” rather than a classical museum.

Read about Tomislav Kličko’s fun approach to collecting and his mission for Modern and Contemporary Croatian artists.


Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.
Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.


The Collection

What is the main motivation behind your collecting?
Fun and only fun.

What is your focus regarding the artists in your collection? Are you more interested in emerging or renowned artists?
The main focus is on Croatian contemporary artists. My aim is to present and help discover new forms of artistic expression by Croatian visual artists, contribute to raising public awareness about Croatian contemporary art and to participate in international cultural trends.

What was the first artwork you purchased?
The first was an oil on canvas titled “Gromače” by Oton Gliha.
Oton Gliha belongs to a group of Croatian artists, which critics called “abstract painters of solid landscape”. He found inspiration in landscapes in the archaic space of his own homeland.

How many artworks do you own?
Approximately 600.

Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.
Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.


Where do you display your collection?
In Lauba House: my own private venue. It’s a unique hybrid space which combines our business and artistic activities of the collection.

Is there any kind of artwork you would buy without hesitation?
I don’t discriminate art. I would buy them all.

What is your most treasured artwork? 
“Plava površina” by Ivo Gattin. He is rightfully considered to be one of the most radical Croatian post-war artists. This tenacious artist who had a penchant for experiments was dedicated to energy research materials in the sign structure and destruction of new building relationships, early on after the Surrealist phase. In the second half of the fifties, he started using new materials such as sheets of metal, wire and sand, which he then combined with colors, pigments, varnishes, resins, chalk and wax, exclusively examining the possibilities of self-expression.

What is your biggest regret regarding collecting?
I wouldn’t put it in those exact words. Maybe if we had developed the idea sooner, the collection would have probably developed in a more profound and in a more systematic way.

How important is it for you to meet the artists who created the artwork?
I fall for the artwork, not the artist him/herself. The communication can only be an upside.

Do you rely on art advisors? If not, how else do you make your decisions concerning purchases?
I do take their advisory into consideration but the final decision is always from me.


Thoughts On The Art World

What was your happiest moment being involved in art? 
The best moment so far was participating in the film making of “LA Unfinished”. It’s a documentary film by Igor Mirkovic about the creation of the most valuable and the most famous painting titled- “The declaration of connecting Popovo polje and West Herzegovina to the Republic of Croatia- Who ordered beer” by Lovro Artuković. It is one of the most valued and recognised contemporary Croatian artist. The Lauba currently owns this work.

What’s your art-world pet peeve?
Well, my art world pet peeve can definitely be seen through all those official art institutions, delegations of curators who come to Croatia to see what is new in contemporary art. However, they don’t search for what’s really present. They rather look for what they believe should be here. That tends to get annoying sometimes.

What would you advise young and fresh collectors?
Have fun!

Lauba by Damir Zizic, courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.
Lauba by Damir Zizic, courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.


Can you name (three) emerging artists who should be on our watchlist? 
Lovro Artuković, Zlatan Vehabović and the artistic duo Žižić/ Kožul

What are you especially excited about in regard to art in the next 12 months?
I am very excited to see Lauba growing into an art leader and as an independent institution of culture; to see the increasing number of people who are drawn by our everyday content; to work with talented people dedicated in developing art awareness, and finally to present blockbuster exhibitions and creating new trends in art and culture.


 Lauba House

What is your motivation behind opening a museum?
The more people, the more fun it is.

Courtesy Tomislav Klicko
Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.

Why did you choose to open your museum in Zagreb?
Zagreb is the capital of our country and therefore the capital in terms of different contents. I have developed my private company in this city and it was a natural thing to establish Lauba in Zagreb.

There are more and more private museums developing. In your opinion, is it necessary to have a private museum nowadays (i.e to get the best artworks etc)?
No, it really isn’t. There are a lot of ways to obtain the best artworks, especially if you live with art every day then you will find your way to some amazing pieces. Or they will find a way to you.

Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.
Courtesy of Tomislav Klicko.


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Artists he owns