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Milena Pavlović Barilli was born on November 5, 1909, in Požarevac, Serbia, and passed away on March 6, 1945, in New York, NY, after sustaining serious injuries in a horse-riding accident. Though only 35 at the time of her death, she was already a prolific and well-established artist, having exhibited her work extensively throughout her career, which spanned across Serbia, Italy, Paris, and New York.
Pavlović Barilli's artistic education began in Rome, where she attended school at Italian and British Institutes from 1916 to 1918. She then studied in Graz at a convent, learning German in 1919. After moving to Serbia, she attended school in Požarevac from 1919 to 1921. She later moved to Linz, where she briefly attended the Mauer-Schule in March 1921.
From 1922 to 1926, she attended the School of Fine Art in Belgrade, taking private courses from Professor Simic in 1924. After graduating, she went to Munich with her mother, preparing for her admission exams and taking private lessons from Bloherer. She entered the Academy in the class led by Professor Habermann and later joined the class of Franz von Stuck.
In Paris, Pavlović Barilli associated with notable figures such as Jean Cocteau and André Breton. While living in New York, she socialized with painters Yvonne Thomas and Theodore Stamos, as well as her best friend, Gian Carlo Menotti. Other friends in New York included Betty Field, the Ekstrom couple, and Margaret Mallory, who introduced her to important connections.
Before the Exhibition by 31 Women, Pavlović Barilli had already established herself as an artist with numerous exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. Her exhibitions ranged from group shows to solo exhibitions, showcasing her talent across different cities and venues.
In the 1930s, she was deeply involved in the worlds of theater, ballet, film, and costuming. In 1938, she collaborated with her father on his opera, Medusa, in Bergamo, Italy. In 1944, she worked on the designs and costumes for the ballet Sebastian by Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti.
On December 24, 1943, Pavlović Barilli married Robert Thomas Astor Gosselin, whose portrait she had painted earlier that summer. As an influential illustrator, she contributed to prestigious publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar during the 1940s.
One of Pavlović Barilli's key artworks featured in the Exhibition by 31 Women was "Insomnia" (1942), though its current whereabouts are unknown.
Milena Pavlović Barilli's work and achievements are preserved and celebrated at the Galerija Milena Pavlović Barilli in Požarevac, Serbia. Her life and art serve as a testament to her dedication, talent, and the impact she had on the world of art during her lifetime.