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Tošo Dabac was born on  May 18th 1907 in Nova Rača near Bjelovar. He finished the primary school in Rača and then frequented the King’s College for Classic Languages in Zagreb, followed by law studies at the Zagreb University. His first encounter with photography dates from 1924 in Samobor, where he visited his younger schoolmate Ivica Sudnik. In the early thirties he worked for Fanamet Film. After the company had been closed down, he was employed at the Zagreb Metro Goldwyn Mayer branch-office, where he worked as translator and public relations person, as well as the editor of the Metro megafon magazine, which caused him to abandon law studies. In 1929 he directed and managed the shooting of the film / sketch Vodica za kurajžu (Water for Courage). His first public display of photographs was at the amateur exhibition in Ivanec (1932), a small place in Hrvatsko Zagorje. As early as 1933 and 1934 this photo-gallery has issued the Croatian edition of Die Galerie, an international monthly for art photography published in German, English, Danish and Italian. In 1932 he started to work as photo-reporter in the capacity of Đuro Janeković’s assistant.
In the early thirties he started the cycle initially exhibited under the title Bijeda (Misery) and later renamed into Ljudi s ulice (People from the Street, 1933-1937), which he is still best remembered by as a lyrical chronicler of the everyday on Zagreb’s streets.
A full year after the exhibition in Ivanec he displayed his work at the 2nd International Salon of Photography in Prague, in the company of such greats of photography as František Drtikol and László Moholy-Nagy, and then at the famous 2nd International Salon of Photography in Philadelphia, where he displayed his work along with artists like Margaret Bourke-White, Henri Cartier-Bresson, László Moholy-Nagy, and Paul Outerbridge. The author of the exhibition catalogue was the renowned Beaumont Newhall.
In 1937 his works were exhibited in New York, again along with the ones by famous photographers like Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White etc. , then in San Francisco (other exhibitors were Edward Steichen, Brassaï, Man Ray, Alexander Rodchenko, Ansel Adams etc.), and in Boston. In New York he was awarded a special mention for the photography On the Way to the Guillotine and in Boston a prize for A Philosopher of Life.
In 1937 and during the following two years, at the international monthly competition announced by the prestigious American photographic magazine Camera Craft, he won five prizes. In 1940 Tošo Dabac moved his atelier to Ilica 17, where his entire photographic legacy has been kept until today.
After the Second World War he became a member of ULUH (Croatian Association of Artists). In 1945 he spent a month taking photographs in Istria and writing an interesting diary which depicted that time’s post-war conditions. Next year he continued to make photographs of nature and cultural monuments along the Adriatic Coast, from Istria to Dubrovnik.
During the following years Dabac became a collaborator of the Jugoslavija magazine and made a cycle of medieval sculptures and frescos, tourist destinations, and Dubrovnik summer residences. As photographer, he began to contribute to exhibitions and fairs showing Yugoslav products abroad (1949 in Toronto, 1950 in Chicago, 1958 in Moscow and at the EXPO Brussels).
In 1952 his works were displayed at the World Exhibition in Luzern, along with Magnum photographers, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and André Kertész. He also participated at exhibitions in Luxembourg, London, Amsterdam, Belgrade etc.
In 1960 his photographs were shown at the international exhibition Das menschliche Antlitz Europas (Human Visage of Europe), which today enjoys cult status. Also displayed were works by Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, Werner Bischof, Brassaï… In 1965 his works were shortlisted at Karl Pawek’s international exhibition Was ist der Mensch? (What is the Man?), which featured a foreword written by Heinrich Böll.
For his photographs of medieval standing tomb-stones he received the Vladimir Nazor Yearly Prize in 1967. During that same year he was awarded the Yearly Prize for Photography and a Lifetime Achievement Charter by Yugoslav Association of Photographers.
He collaborated with many international publishers like Thames and Hudson, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Albert Müller Verlag, Zurich, Hanns Reich Verlag, Munich… His photographs were published in domestic and international encyclopedic issues. He was also the author or a co-author of a large number of art, city, and regional monographs dedicated to different parts of Croatia and Yugoslavia.
Tošo Dabac was a member of several domestic and international professional associations: since 1953 he has been a member of the Photographic Society of America, honorary member of the Belgian Royal Photographic Society (CREPSA), and Dutch FOKUS Salon. He was a bearer of the title Hon. exc. FIAP (International Organisation of Art Photographers).
In 1970, on the 9th of May, he died in Zagreb.

Monographs (selection):

1967 Oto Bihalji Merin: Tošo Dabac, Foto –savez Jugoslavije, Belgrade

1980 Radoslav Putar:  Tošo Dabac Photographer, Grafički zavod Hrvatske, Zagreb

1994 Peter Knapp, Želimir Koščević: Tošo Dabac, Zagreb of the Thirties, ATD,
Zagreb1943 The Metropole of the Croats, published by A. Velzek, Zagreb

1954 Augustinčić, Kultura, Zagreb

1958 Bakić, Naprijed, Zagreb

1959 Trogir, Jugoslavija, Belgrade

1961 Zagreb, Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb

Ivan Meštrović, Matica hrvatska, Zagreb

1962 Bogomil Sculpture, Jugoslavija, Belgrade

1968 Augustinčić, Republika, Zagreb

1974 Krsto Hegedušić, Grafički zavod Hrvatske, Zagreb


Solo Exhibitions (selection

1953  Zagreb, Architects’ Society, solo exhibition commemorating 25 years of active work; Pula Youth Centre

1962  Belgrade, Salon of Photography

1968  Zagreb, Museum of Arts and Crafts, retrospective (more than 300 exhibits)

1969  Zagreb, Art Pavilion, Tomb-stone Art; Ingelheim am Rhein, part of the Yugoslav Days exhibition
Split, Art Gallery

1972  Mannheim, Mannheimer Kunstverein, Tošo Dabac and His Atelier

1975  Padua, Invited Photographic Exhibition: Great FIAP Authors

1984  Milan, Centro San Fedele, Photographs by Tošo Dabac

1988  Zagreb, Fotocolor Studio, Tošo Dabac’s Colour Photographs 1940-1941

1992  Paris, La grande Halle de la Villete, Month of Middle-European Photography, Tošo Dabac: Transitional Work

1994  Zagreb, Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb of the Thirties

2002  Zagreb, Klovićevi dvori Gallery, Photographer Tošo Dabac

2007  Zagreb, Forum Gallery, History of the TD Archive 1940 – 2007, Tošo Dabac: Diferent View


Group Exhibitions (selection)

1933  Prague, 2nd International Salon of Photography Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, 2nd Philadelphia International
Salon of Photography

1937  New York, American Museum of Natural History, Fourth International Salon, San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, Invitational Salon of
International Photography
Boston, Boston Camera Club, Sixth International Salon

1939  New York, Museum of Natural History, Sixth International Salon of
Photography, Centennial Exhibition

1951  Milano, Palazzo di Brera, Exhibition of European Photography

1952  Luzern, World Exhibition of Photography

1960  Munich, International Salon of Photography, Human Visage of Europe

1965  Hamburg, World Exhibition of Photography, What is the Man?

1968  Prague, National Gallery, Belvedere, Medieval Tomb-stones of Bosnia

2007  Zagreb, Klovićevi dvori Gallery, Avant-garde Tendencies in Croatian Art
Samobor, Lang Photo-gallery, The Nude Theme in Croatian Photography from 1865 to 2006


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