BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Embracing the Accidental

Trajković Collection – Belgrade, Serbia

Mrđan Bajić, ’Belfry’, 1986
Mrđan Bajić, ’Belfry’, 1986

In a famous interview with the journalist, William Wright, Jackson Pollock is quoted as saying that his work is a denial of the accidental: “I don’t use the accident … I deny the accident”, Pollock states with characteristic grandiloquence. To hear the founders of the Trajković Collection, Daniel and Slavic Trajković, discuss the origins of their collection, the accidental can prove equally fortuitous for collectors as it may be for painters. Asked by the BMW Art Guide why they collect, they replied “The truth is we never knew the real reasons”. However the collection came into being, the embrace of the accident of its birth has served the Trajković Collection well, as it is now understood to be the largest private collection in Serbia. The collection’s formidable size and the interests of the Trajkovićs in the post-war period of Serbian art means that the collection is both focused and encompassing; it is a collection with a highly specific identity, but also one which retains a sense of adventure and openness.

Zoran Grebenarović, ’Ugh I’, 1987
Zoran Grebenarović, ’Ugh I’, 1987
Dušan Otašević, ’Yes Sir’, 1966
Dušan Otašević, ’Yes Sir’, 1966

The time period on which the collection concentrates showcases the dialogues that existed between Serbian artists and other global trends and developments. Possibly the most familiar name to audiences inside and outside of Serbia from the collection will be that of Dušan Otašević. Otašević’s work traces the history of aesthetic developments in contemporary Serbia with quality of acceptance that brooks few rivals, and is perhaps best known for his dialogues with Pop Art from the 1960s. The Trajković Collection holds some of the most engaging examples of Otašević’s Pop works including the diptych, Yes Sir!. In the work, Otašević’s overloaded ice cream cone, which sits in blank, white space, on one panel is joined by an oddly melancholic tongue in another. It is a tongue that will never taste the ice cream beside it, or even be permitted to settle quietly back inside of a mouth as Otašević’s image depicts no lower row of teeth or jaw. Otašević’s hilarious, somewhat disturbing works, To Eat and To Drink also feature in the collection, imagining systems of the body as something between industrial structures and traffic conduits. This sense of the humorous uncanny infuses not only Otašević’s work, but also that of other key figures in the Trajković Collection. Radomir Reljić’s work also explores the body as a site of tragedy, comedy and incompletion.

Bora Iljovski, ’Personal Escort’, 1981
Bora Iljovski, ’Personal Escort’, 1981
Predrag-Peđa Nešković, ’Porcelain figurines’, 1980
Predrag-Peđa Nešković, ’Porcelain figurines’, 1980
Saša Marković Mikrob, ’Političke Partije’, 1990/91
Saša Marković Mikrob, ’Političke Partije’, 1990/91

Another important strand in the collection’s holdings is an emphasis on the role of performance as a discourse in Serbian art. The collection includes works by Era Milivojević in which the artist can be seen duct taping the legendary Serbian performance artist and contemporary global icon, Marina Abramović, to a bed. In another image, Milivojević is seen taping his own reflection in a mirror. There is a haunting quality to works like these, evoking the determination toward futile preservation of the moment for which art and history so often strive. Along with Milivojević works, this era of adventure and possibility in Serbian art is represented by photo documentation of a performance by Neša Paripović, entitled From the Movie in which the artist is depicted striding purposefully off a section of iron fencing onto a rooftop like a combination of Leonard Cohen and Jason Bourne. The work not only depicts an important (literal and figurative) moment in Serbian art, but also represents the dialogues between western cinema and art movements like the New York downtown scene of the late 1970s and the former Yugoslavia. Pioneering feminist works by Katalin Ladik are also included in the collection. In these images, the viewer finds Ladik standing behind a spinning bicycle wheel, perhaps subverting, or furthering the notion of the Duchampian readymade.

Božica Rađenović, ’Revealing’, 1989
Božica Rađenović, ’Revealing’, 1989
Katalin Ladik, ’Ballad of the Silver Bicycle’, 1969
Katalin Ladik, ’Ballad of the Silver Bicycle’, 1969

If the Trajković Collection was born by accident, it has reached a level of maturity that few collections in the region can rival. Happily, the collectors share a commitment to ensuring the works are seen and circulated widely, providing contributions to numerous regional shows and exhibitions as far afield as Newcastle in the UK. The story it tells is one about the history of Serbia, but it is also a story of Serbia’s future, the present one, and also the infinity of possible others.

William Kherbek is the writer of the novel "Ecology of Secrets" (2013, Arcadia Missa) and "UltraLife" (2016, Arcadia Missa). His art journalism has appeared in a number of publications in the UK, US, Germany, Switzerland and Romania.

All images courtesy the Trajković Collection, Belgrade

More Information on Trajković Collection

Collections (132)

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The Ojikutu Collection

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miramART Collection

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A leading arts organization based in Whistler, British Columbia


A diverse collection of contemporary art

The Sotiris Felios Collection

A unique collection of contemporary art focused on the human figure.

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Interview with Collector Mauro De Iorio

Kiran Nadar Museum of Art

KNMA is a non-commercial, not-for-profit organisation that aims to bridge the gap between art and the public


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Colección SOLO

A collection displayed through different temporary exhibitions


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Frankfurt based Art Collector Tyrown Vincent on his 360° approach

The Bradshaw Collection

A collector couple that profits from the bundled synergy of their highly developed feel for art

Schlosspark Eybesfeld

Carefully executed art projects in a palace-garden setting

The Fernanda Feitosa & Heitor Martins Collection

A journey into the postwar Brazilian art scene

Takahashi Ryutaro Collection

One of the most important collections of contemporary Japanese art

Barjeel Art Foundation

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The Perimeter

Famous contemporaries and Victorian industrial architecture in Bloomsbury

Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Re-opened and in the middle of Flanders, international art stars show in quick succession

West Collection

Key names in international art meet new voices

Rubell Museum

Curator Joey Lico teams up with artist Alexis Diaz to visit the mighty Rubell Museum in Miami

Vorres Museum

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Alexander Ramselaar Collection

A townhouse of young talent from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and around the world

Quetzal Art Centre

Contemporary art on a winery in the picturesque Alentejo region

Sammlung Wemhöner

A spontaneous exhibition set up in the now empty ballroom, before opening in 2023 as the collection's new home

Museum Liaunig

Nuriel Molcho and Francesca Gavin travel out of Vienna to hillside Carinthia, to meet with Peter Liaunig

Frissiras Museum

3 500 contemporary figurative paintings

Arario Museum in Space

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Fondazione Brodbeck

Contemporary art in a post-industrial complex—in the shadow of a volcano

Peyrassol—Parc de Sculptures

A sculpture park on a centuries-old vineyard in Provence

Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung

A location for contemporary glass and photography

Colección de Arte Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat

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Museum Brandhorst

Francesca Gavin and Benjamin Jaworskyj explore a dazzling new space in Munich

Rossini Art Site (RAS)

Large-scale sculpture in a landscape park

Castello di Ama per l’Arte Contemporanea

Site-specific installations for a dual passion: art and wine

Kasteel Wijlre Estate

Art from the 1960s to the present in a modern pavilion

Fundació Vila Casas

Three buildings, three points of focus: painting, sculpture and photography

Gibbs Farm

A sculpture park in XXL format with monumental art in the grandness of nature

Kloster Schoenthal

Nature-inspired sculptures in a pristine landscape

Pinchuk Art Centre

Blue-chip contemporary in the first private museum in the former USSR

Museo James Turrell — The Hess Art Collection, Colomé

Turrell’s largest Skyspace and additional light rooms in breathtaking surroundings


An extensive private collection of Swiss contemporary art of the last fifty years

Mathaf—Arab Museum of Modern Art

A Royal Collection Spanning 200 Years of Arab Art – Doha, Qatar


DJ Cassy and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Venke and Rolf A. Hoff in Henningsvær, Norway

Stella Art Foundation

An exhibition space for contemporary Russian art

Sara Piccinini

Senior Coordinator, Collezione Maramotti - Reggio Emilia, Italy

Reflection and Speculation

Sammlung von Kelterborn – Frankfurt, Germany

Deichtorhallen Hamburg – Sammlung Falckenberg

Positions of social criticism in German and American contemporary art – Hamburg, Germany

The Walther Collection

Inside and Outside the Frame – Neu Ulm, Germany

Peter Ibsen Collection

Minimalist Works That Hone Your Sense for Detail – Copenhagen, Denmark

Initiating Dialogues

Sammlung Hoffmann – Berlin, Germany

The Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

Andrea Denver and Francesca Gavin meet with collectors Sherry and Joel Mallin in Upstate New York

The Agah Uğur Collection

One of the Largest Video Art Collections in Istanbul, Turkey

KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space

900 Square Meters Dedicated to Lebanon’s Most Significant Artists – Beirut, Lebanon

Art About Beauty and Infirmity

Collezione De Iorio – Trento & Verona, Italy

Living Collection

Gary Yeh and Francesca Gavin meet with architect and collector William Lim in Hong Kong

Early Passions

Z Collection – Hong Kong, China

Infinite Interiors

Philara Collection – Dusseldorf, Germany

Papko Art Collection

Works of Turkish Modernism at the legendary Ralli Apartment in Istanbul

Risky Business

Astrup Fearnley Museet – Oslo, Norway

Something Special, Something Sacred

The Goss-Michael Foundation – Dallas, United States of America

JAHM – Justin Art House Museum

Digital and Abstract Art — Melbourne, Australia

A More Democratic Art

MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art of Buenos Aires, Argentina

Galila's P.O.C.

A Collection Made up of Thematic Collections – Brussels, Belgium

Establishing Roots and Creating Links

The Ovidiu Șandor Collection – Timișoara, Romania

Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz

Abstract painting and concept art in Brazil’s interior – São Paulo

Conversation Pieces

KUNSTSAELE Berlin – Berlin, Germany

Magazzino Italian Art

Contemporary Italian Art on the Hudson River – New York

Slow Learning

de la Cruz Collection – Miami, United States of America

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

A venue for contemporary African art – Cape Town

The Elliott Eyes Collection

Engaging With the Collectors – Sydney

Foundation Francès

A French roadtrip reaching the radical reflections of artist Kader Attia

The Sublime Hyacinth Collection

Czech Art Meets Czech Design – Prague, Czech Republic

Marciano Art Foundation

Contemporary art at the Masonic temple – Los Angeles

Time Stamps

Julia Stoschek Collection – Berlin, Germany

Generative Grammars

Servais Family Collection – Brussels, Belgium

Chasing the Future

dslcollection – Paris, France

Charged Atmospheres

Transformer Station – Cleveland, United States of America

Places in, and out of, Time

Adrastus Collection – Arévalo, Spain

Eloquent Silences

The Givon Art Forum – Tel Aviv, Israel

Counting to Ten

Ten Cubed – Melbourne, Australia

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The Wedge Collection – Toronto, Canada

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Present Pasts

The Feuerle Collection – Berlin, Germany

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Colección Contemporánea

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Adrastus Collection

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Masters and Romantics

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Fondazione Rolla

A Collection of Modern and Contemporary Photography in Ticino

Finnish Rhapsody

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Cranford Collection

One of Europe’s Most Important Collections with Renowned Contemporaries in Regent’s Park – London

Broad Minded

Artist Tomasz Kobialka on The Broad – Los Angeles, USA

Jean-Paul Najar Foundation

European-American Post-Minimalist Art in a Bauhaus-inspired building – Dubai

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The Wanås Foundation/Wanås Konst – Knislinge, Sweden

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Mallin Collection & Buckhorn Sculpture Park

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Starting with the parking lot

White Rabbit Collection

Chinese Contemporary Art – Australia, Sydney