Slavko Tihec was born into a family of railway workers in 1920s. He work his way up throughout his career to become one of the most renowned sculptors in Slovenia. He lost his father at a young age, so was raised by his mother, who encouraged his art. His first ventures into sculpture were in school, where he was active in the sculpture club. When World War II began, he was only 13, so he did not fight, however, him and his family were harassed by German soldiers, with certain family members even being arrested. After the war, continued pursuing a career in art, but he was delayed, as he was required by the state of Yugoslavia to attended mandatory reserve soldier training for several years. After completing this service, he began his studies in sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, where he worked with famed sculpting professors Karl Putrih, Zdenko Kalin and Boris Kalin. Tihec graduated in 1955 and relocated back to Maribor. There he entrenched himself within the artistic community there, doing his best to make his career blossom. In the late 1950s, he traveled to Paris to train and be inspired, where he worked with graphic designer Johnny Friedlaender. During his time in Paris, Tihec began to explore new avenues of trending art while moving away from more traditional sculptural styles. These ideas of breaking with 'ideological imperatives' of traditional art were amplified during his time working in the BE 54 artistic community in Slovenia.
Major changes began to happen to Tihec towards the end of the 1950s. Firstly, he married fellow sculptor Vlasta Zorko in 1958, having a baby. Second, in the early 1960s, Tihec began to make his very first abstract sculptures. This change in artistic style began to bring him accolades, commissions and awards, while, at the same time, Tihec was awarded with a professorship at Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts in 1968. Tihec's grandest commission came in the early 1970s, when he was asked to design a memorial to the World War II fighters and victims from Maribor. This spomenik at Maribor would be his most memorable work and secure his reputation for many years to come. Over his life, he would put on hundreds of exhibitions, creating well over 1000 sketches, paintings and sculptures. In 1983 Tihec was awarded with Slovenia's highest cultural honor: the Prešeren Award for a lifetime of contribution and achievement in art.
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