About AtelierThe Meštrović Atelier, an art museum with a permanent exhibition of works by Ivan Meštrović, is an adapted part of the complex which Ivan Meštrović purchased and renovated at the beginning of the 20th century, when he returned to his homeland and settled in Zagreb after he had become a successful and world-renowned artist after studying in Vienna and staying in Paris, Rome, Cannes and London, together with his first wife, Ruža Meštrović, born Klein. In the construction and decoration of the building Meštrović's collaborators were architects Viktor Kovačić, Harold Bilinić and Drago Ibler, and builders Stjepan Uršić, Josip Žanko and Josip Aljinović who signed the drawings and detailed designs.
Ivan Meštrović certainly had a major role in the design of the whole, given that he had his own wishes as the client and he had knowledge and tendency towards architecture. Finally, the character of the realized refers to the general features of his later architectural projects. It is located in the historical centre, in the Upper Town of Zagreb, in a quiet street, in a row of densely positioned houses of crumbling façades. With its simple and refined façade processing, the museum stands out only with a meticulous monumentality achieved by an extra floor, the bright colour of exterior walls and the entrance door. The pronounced stone door frames and wooden coffered doors make the connection with the interior space and an indication of a completely different, multifaceted and representative environment. The former housing and work space of Ivan Meštrović is now an attractive exhibition space with a pronounced memorial character. The floor plan of the relatively large space is divided into four differently treated wholes. The lobby/atrium, where sculptures are exhibited, is a semi-roofed space, atypical for Upper Town architecture with the antique/Mediterranean element of a porch with columns in Brač stone. The artist's former studio is today a spacious, contemporary designed exhibition space, and the yard is now a cultivated garden where sculptures are also exhibited. The housing part, preserved in its original state, has a colourful and rich interior design, with a high level of craft work and wood processing, with wood as the basic functional and decorative element. The room is dominated by a wooden staircase and railing and wooden coffered ceilings. Meštrović’s sculptures and reliefs in wood, stone, bronze and plaster, as well as his drawings and graphics are exhibited in all parts of the museum, in accordance with the possibilities or the character of the space.
The works of Ivan Meštrović from the collection of the Meštrović Atelier created in the first four decades of his work, from his first student works to works created immediately prior to his departure from Zagreb in 1942 are exhibited in the authentic ambiance of the artist’s former home and studio. The concept of the exhibition relies on two key determinants: the representativeness and excellence of exposed works, and the memorial and monumental aspect of the museum building which is itself exhibited. A coherent and meaningful interrelationship between architecture and the exhibited works in functional and visual terms, and in terms of content was a goal and a necessity. The formal and stylistic features of individual exhibits point to individual periods of Ivan Meštrović’s work from the impressionist and symbolic early works (Head of an Old Man, Laocoon of My Days) and Art Nouveau stylized works of the first decade (Hands, Vase), fragments of the Kosovo cycle (Miloš Obilić, Prince Marko on a Horse, the Widow) through the expressionist mystical presentations of Biblical characters (St. John the Baptist, First Crucifixion, Moses) and refined female portraits from the time of the First World War (Ruža Meštrović, Marija Banac) to the return to classical modelling in the third and fourth decades (Woman by the Sea, Waiting, Resting). In addition to sculptures in marble, stone, wood, bronze and plaster, Meštrović’s drawings (Archangel Gabriel, Resurrection of Lazarus), prints (Domagoj’s Archers) and reliefs (Eternally Crucified, portraits of family members) are also exhibited. The preserved original furniture contributes to the vividness and authenticity of the atmosphere (dining table and chairs, chandelier) and the frescoes on the ceiling of the former bedroom. The exhibition is largely conditioned by certain spatial assignments and adaptations to communication with visitors, so there were no groupings in the usual chronological, stylistic or thematic sequence, however, four spatial exhibition units were crystallized: atrium, studio, garden and house. Given that the atrium is a partially roofed space with stone as a dominant building material, it was suitable for exhibiting larger marble sculptures. Bronze sculptures are exhibited in the garden, because bronze is the material most resistant to the influence of the atmosphere. Due to static reasons and the character of the interior, works of smaller format, plaster studies, reliefs, drawings and graphics were selected for exhibitions in the housing part. Sculptures in all materials and sizes are exhibited in the studio. References: PLAZIBAT, Danica. Od doma do muzeja: Ivan Meštrović u Zagrebu, Fundacija Ivana Meštrovića, Zagreb, 2004. ČERINA, Ljiljana. 100 djela Ivana Meštrovića, Muzeji Ivana Meštrovića, Zagreb, 2010.