Exhibition: Adriatic epic. Ivan Meštrović.
Ivan Meštrović, sculptor and architect, consistently constructed bridges that connected Croatia and its culture to Europe and the United States of America – both in his work and exhibition practice, as well as in his private life. From his early youth, when he studied in Vienna, until his final years spent in South Bend in the USA, he developed his international career retaining the awareness of his origins.
Each Croatian passport contains the image of Meštrović’s History of the Croats; this way, Croatian citizens promote the sculptor’s work in the world. It is impossible to discuss Croatian art and history of the first half of the 20th century without the reference to his works. At the same time, Meštrović has found a permanent place amongst the most distinguished Central European artists of the previous century. He is one of the greatest Croatian artists, whose talent has permanently transformed the landscape of numerous cities in Europe and overseas. He invested the consciousness of other nations with elements of heritage that had shaped him.
The 20th century revealed a dissonance between the modern abstract form – the inheritance of the avant-garde – and the natural human need for belonging and expressing the personal experience in public space. Meštrović’s continuous search for links between tradition and the present seems to anticipate the notion of the rear-guard – an antidote to the sense of alienation and threat experienced by contemporary man.
Meštrović’s art epitomises the diversity of Croatian culture, its numerous ambivalences and contradictions. Its deep-reaching roots in Western civilisation are reflected in the Mediterranean idioms, in Central European and Western European modernisation projects. However, they are also invested with elements of local culture, which draws from the tradition of syncretism of the Balkan model, where patriarchal and heroic folk culture coexists with the presence of various denominations and religions – the Orthodox Church and Islam. In a sense, Meštrović’s work is a metaphor for the history of the Croats, who found themselves on the crossroads of Europe’s major civilisational trends: Christianity and Islam, the Orthodox Church and Catholicism, elite and folk culture, the Mediterranean basin and Central Europe. All those elements clash with one another, creating a rich cultural mosaic, which cannot be defined through common traits.
The exhibition is the first Polish show of Meštrović’s work as well as the first show of Croatian art of this stature. The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Muzeji Ivana Meštrovicia: Galerija Meštrović in Split and Atelijer Meštrović in Zagreb.
The exhibition is organised under the Honorary Auspices of the President of the Republic of Poland, Dr. Andrzej Duda, and the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962) is the greatest Croatian artist of the 20th century and one of the most important Central European artists to have attained world renown. This is evidenced by the reception of Meštrović’s works in European countries and the United States, where he was the first living artist to be honoured with a retrospective show in the New York Metropolitan Museum. He developed a unique method of combining architecture with urban planning, antique and Byzantine heritage with Modernism, or Slavonic and Balkan culture with Mediterranean civilisation. His art is intertwined with politics and it reflects many dramatic challenges faced by Central European artists in the 20th century: he studied with Friedrich Ohmann in Vienna; he belonged to the Vienna Secession; he created his major works in his native Dalmatia; the elderly Rodin saw a brilliant continuator of his genius in him; he was socially and politically active in the most turbulent periods of European history – during World War I and the breakup of the Austro‑Hungarian monarchy (he was a member of the Yugoslav Committee); during World War II (he was imprisoned by the Ustaše in Zagreb) and the establishment of the communist regime; in 1946 he emigrated to the United States, where he was offered a professorship in sculpture at the Syracuse University, and then the University of Notre Dame; and in the 1990s, during the war in the former Yugoslavia, his works in the Dalmatian Zagora were deliberately destroyed. Meštrović is a creator of large sculptural works – iconic for Croatian culture – creations combining sculpture with architecture (Avala near Belgrade, Split, Lovćen, Otavice, Cavtat) and sculptural urban projects (Split, Zagreb, Chicago, Bucharest, Warsaw [not implemented]). This is the first presentation of Meštrović’s works – and at the same time of Croatian art of this rank – in Poland. The exhibition is being mounted in cooperation with the Muzeji Ivana Meštrovicia: Galerija Meštrović in Split and Atelijer Meštrović in Zagreb.
Exhibition Opening 24.07.2017 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Curators: Łukasz Galusek, Dr Barbara Vujanović
Scientific consultation: dr hab. Maciej Czerwiński
Scientific committee: prof. dr hab. Jacek Majchrowski, dr Andrea Bekić, dr hab. Maciej Czerwiński, mec. Jacek Żuławski
This event happens in ICC