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A seemingly unpublished drafts for book covers of Ivan-Goran Kovačić’s Jama, made by a Croatian artist Predrag Purić.

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Three drawings on one page show three different colour schemes of the cover of a book Jama by Ivan-Goran Kovačić, one of the most famous underground poetries of WWII in Yugoslavia.


Ivan Kovačić, with a nickname Goran, was born in Lukovdol in Croatia, on the southern Slovenian border to a Croatian father Ivan Kovačić and Jewish mother Ruža, neé Klein. After unfinished study of Slavistics in Zagreb, he became journalist, writer and poet.

In 1942 he joined the Partisans and participated in battles through the difficult terrain of Bosnia. In the months of seeing cruel battles and slaughtering of civilians, he wrote his most famous poem Jama (The Pit). This epic poem was inspired by a genocide made by the Croatian Nationalistic Army, Ustashe, upon the Serbian people. In first person, with cruel, yet beautiful verses, he describes torture, and eventual death as a part of mass killings.

In 1943, only 30 year old Kovačić was killed in Case Black – a joint attack by the Axis, which aimed to destroy the main Yugoslav Partisan force in Bosnia, mostly known by its final phase final phase, the Battle of the Sutjeska. After the battle of Sutjeska, Kovačić was hiding in a farmhouse, weakened by a lung illness, listening the Serbian Nationalist Army Chetniks killing wounded Partisans. Eventually he was also tracked down by Chetniks, slaughtered and buried in an unmarked grave.

Kovačić’s death was accepted by the Partisans with great sadness. The journalist and politician Moša Pijade  (1890-1957) described his death:

Goran Kovačić did not survive the horrendous fifth offensive. This young Croatian poet, who in “The Pit” formed the strongest poem of a protest against the Ustasha massacres against the Serbs, was killed by “Serbian vigilante” Chetnik degenerates, these Swabian and Ustasha allies. They cut the throat, which had so sincerely and strongly thundered from the Croatian fraternal soul against Ustasha crimes against Serbian youth. Never before a more honest and humane work of a poet was punished and never a forehead of a murderer was tainted by more disgraceful crime. Reading the Goran’s “Jama”, hearts of generations and generations of Serbian youth will tear over the crimes, which caused such a cry of a poet, but also over the crime, which slit the throat of this beautiful seagull.

The poem is considered one of the most beautiful war poems ever made and one of the greatest poems of Croatian literature.

First editions were already published by Partisan underground presses during WWII, with the most famous version being the illustrated edition by  Edo Murtić (1921–2005) and Zlatko Prica (1916-2003), published in 1944.

The author of these drafts, Predrag Purić (1930-2007) was a Croatian artist and illustrator. He graduated from the Art Academy in 1954 and specialised in painting under professor Antun Mezdjić (1907 – 1981) in 1956. Later he cooperated with Krsto Hegedušić (1901 – 1975) and the artistic group Mart. His art reflects the modern influences of Art informel, as well as motives from contemporary political situation in Yugoslavia and Socrealistic forms.

Purić’s drawings and portraits were often printed in book illustration.

We could not establish the date of this drawing for Kovačić’s Jama, but could be probably dated in 1960s or 1970s. The drawings were probably never published and were either a part of a project or were made as a private sketch.

The drafts are not signed, but come from the estate of the artist.

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