With his impressive sculptural opus, Vladimir Herljević is firmly weaved into the fabric of Croatian art. Herljević was born in 1930 in Vareš (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and in 1951 he enrolled into the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. He graduated in 1956 in the class of professor Antun Augustinčić, in whose Master Workshop he spent more than two decades. He continues to work with full intensity even today, near the Master's atelier in Zagreb's Tuškanac.
Herljević is a sculptor who grew from the form of fine art tradition, which he transforms into works of personal stylistics. His dominant motif is the female nude filled with a poetic expression. With his prevalent lyric connotations, Herljević emphasizes the sensuality of figures, attained by way of gentle modeling and an excellent feeling for the sensuality of the skin. With the legibility of silhouette and cleanliness of the volume, Herljević stylizes the harmony of the physical in a deliberate rhythm of the form. His nudes exude an unobtrusive eroticism, attained in compositional variations, positional changes and scopes of emotional sparklings. The classical beauty is in the forefront, interpreted in a mix of needed descriptiveness and indicated realism, respecting the anatomical convincingness of the figure. The states of experiences of women are suggested: shyness, surrender, meditation, a trace of joy of life. Herljević shapes the stone with an exquisite feeling for its structure, continuously affirming himself as a first-rate master in understanding this material's character. He emphasizes its nobility, including softness of light, in the happening of the scene. All in all, Herljević belongs to the circle of Croatian sculptors who use an authentic method, give vitality to the stone by tracing the elementary expressiveness of the material: in the whiteness of the marble and the blackness of the granite alike.
One segment of Herljević's opus is carried out in bronze, metallic polyester and polyester. There is a style change occurring with the mentioned materials. The possibilities of interpretation in this form are freer so that the nudes reach the very edge of the abstract regarding the balance of the curves. This line is never crossed, for the premonition of femininity remains undisturbed. In an interesting combination of sleek facets and roughness of surfaces in indented volumes (application of perforation), the sculpting power is suggested in the motion towards the core and the opening towards the space. As with his sculptures in stone, the format suitable for the indoors offers intimacy, but also monumentality suitable for public monuments.
In addition to the theme of nudes, Herljević is the author of a number of portraits, a motif in which he connects the physical and psychological side of the portraitee with expounding detailing, as well as scenes with more complex scenarios, involving dialogues of figures, such as mother-child relationships. Sacral motifs of Christian iconography represent an important component of Herljević's opus, realized in the series of scenes of the Way of the Cross and in the soul-stirring theme of Pietà.
Herljević is a first-rate restoration expert. He restored a number of capital Croatian monuments. With his ultimate sensitivity for the historic and a skillful touch, through replicas, he returned the original features to architectural and statuary ensembles. Mentioning just a few of his works will suffice to show the significance of his engagement: the composition “Madonna With Child and Angels” on the Zagreb cathedral, the west portal of St. Mark’s Church in Zagreb, and the mausoleum of ban Jelačić in Zaprešić.
Vladimir Herljević, an artist of cultivated expression, true to his poeticism, expanded the possibilities for artistic elaboration of the “eternal” theme of fine arts – the female nude. Creating tirelessly over decades, he grew into an author of statuary intimism, a great value within Croatian modern art.