Željko Jerman (born 1949 in Zagreb, died 2006 in Korčula) was a Croatian photographer who experimented with the possibilities of photography as a medium.
Jerman’s early works follow the classic conventions of photography: they are properly composed, focussed on the figure or the face and technically well executed. But as a committed member of the rebel generation, he resented social models and consciously chose to be an outlaw. It is therefore natural that after proving to himself that he was capable of taking and producing ‘nice’ photographs, a phase of defiance and the need for a different aesthetic model ensued.
In the alternating ritual of creativity and destructivity, the rational and the irrational, Jerman uses the alchemy of photography to maximum effect. He also created photo collages, making further interventions with the media by using different photo techniques, photo chemicals, fire, cutting, texts, drawings, colors etc. He would also frequently cut and partially burn the final products. Further experimentation led him to apply chemicals directly onto the photo surface without the use of a camera.
Jerman was one of the founding members of the informal neo-avant-garde Grupa šestorice autora (Group of Six Authors), together with Vladimir Martek, Boris Demur, Mladen Stilinović, Sven Stilinović and Fedomir Vučemilović. The group was active in Zagreb from 1975 to 1979 and is now considered one of the most important phenomena of New Artistic practice. The idea, stemming from their dissatisfaction with the cultural situation they encountered, was put into practice in the form of independently organized exhibitions-actions. These exhibitions-actions liquidated the mediating role of the cultural infrastructure in favor of direct presentations, communication and information.
From 1979 to 1983, Željko Jerman made artistic performances with his wife and fellow artist Vlasta Delimar. He was a professor at the Free Art Academy in Split between 1998 and 2001 and wrote theoretical and critical texts and columns published in newspapers and socio-cultural magazines.