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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Svetozar and Ruth Radakovich

Ruth Clark Radakovich (1920-1975) and Svetozar (Toza) Radakovich (1918-1998) were modernist jewelers, sculptors and painters.

Toza was born in Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia). He studied painting, drawing, and design at the Royal Art Academy in Belgrade, earning his BFA in 1938 and his MFA in 1939. 

In addition to his art pursuits, he was the national freestyle swimming champion, as well as the national giant slalom ski champion and would have gone to the Olympics if the country had been able to send their athletes.

During World War II he was captured and sent to a German forced labor camp from which he escaped. After the war he went to work for the United Nation’s Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) as a graphic artist.

Ruth Clark was raised in Winnetka, Illinois. She attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, majoring in art and minoring in journalism and anthropology. She took a break from college during World War II to work in a bomber factory, receiving a B.A. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1949.

After the war, Ruth was sent to Yugoslavia to work for the UNRRA and met Svetozar Radakovich. They fell in love, but when the UNRRA's mission was over, she was forced to leave the country, maintaining a secret relationship with Toza and planning his escape while he worked for the prestigious national magazine Jugoslavia.. She was able to send him messages written in tiny print and covered over with watercolor paintings, then rolled up and hidden in pill bottles. At one point, she sent him parts of a small boat in C.A.R.E. packages, but he was caught and sent to prison when he tried to escape to Italy.

Upon his release, he returned to work for Jugoslavia. Time passed and inexplicably Toza was granted a work visa to travel briefly to Paris as the magazine's art editor. Some official had failed to notice his file.

Toza and Ruth met in Paris and eventually were able to marry and arrange to go to the United States. He received an appointment to teach painting, drawing and design at the School for American Craftsmen, RIT in 1955 and in early 1956 he began teaching metalwork at the University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery where Ruth had also been teaching.

The couple moved to California in 1958. Toza taught at the University of Arizona's Southwest Indian Project, San Diego State University and Palomar College. They both worked in the studio they had built adjacent to their home and became well known for their modernist jewelry.

All images from

Gold pin (Ruth Radakovich)

Gold necklace (Toza Radakovich)

Silver necklace (Ruth Radakovich)

Gold earrings (Toza Radakovich)

Silver bracelet (Ruth Radakovich)

Mosaic bracelet (Toza Radakovich)


  1. These are extraordinarily beautiful pieces, made even more so by the history behind them - thank you once again for sharing it. =)

    1. The history of their love affair literally brought tears to my eyes. It's told in much greater detail at their daughter Jean's website.

  2. Beautiful post, Dana. I'm in love with those earrings. :)

    1. I think those are gorgeous, and I'd love either of the necklaces.