EXHIBITION DEVISED AND CURATED BY
ESSAYS WRITTEN BY
VISUAL INSTALLATIONS CREATED BY
Ivan Marušić Klif
EXHIBITION DESIGN AND SPATIAL CONCEPTION BY
EXHIBITION SET-UP BY
The Sign of Meštrović in Zagreb – Architecture: The 80 Years of the Meštrović Pavilion
December 18, 2018 – March 31, 2019
The Meštrović Atelier, Zagreb
The Ivan Meštrović Museums are celebrating the eightieth anniversary of the construction and opening of the Home of Croatian Visual Artists, otherwise known as the Meštrović Pavilion, with the exhibition The Sign of Meštrović in Zagreb – architecture: the 80 years of the Meštrović Pavilion. The exhibition has been devised by senior curator of the Meštrović Atelier, Barbara Vujanović, and represents a follow-up to the research started with the book The Sign of Meštrović in Zagreb published last year, in which she discussed and described the Meštrović Zagreb monumental and architectural legacy, as well as his works in museums and churches.
The exhibition will take up and interpret the turbulent history of the building in an interesting and intriguing manner, through visual installations created by the artist Ivan Marušić Klif. All the phases in which the Meštrović Pavilion underwent the various repurposings and remodellings will be presented, starting with the Home of Croatian Visual Artists (1938-1941), the Zagreb Mosque (1941-1945), the Museum of People’s Liberation / Museum of the Revolution of the Peoples of Croatia (1949-1991) and ending with the Home of the Croatian Association of Visual Artists (1993 until the present).
Combined with the installations, founded on rich photographic and archival records assembled from Zagreb museums and private archives, will be an original architectural model of the Meštrović Pavilion from the holdings of the Meštrović Atelier.
Also taking part in the exhibition project is the architecture historian Vendula Hnídková of the Art History Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. In her essay in the catalogue entitled The temple of Croatian artists in hard times, she engages with the context of its origins, and gives an analysis of this paradigmatic work of Ivan Meštrović and his associates through a comparison with his other pieces of architecture and with other European buildings. In the text Meštrović’s pavilion and pavilions: changes of the building as reflections of time and space Barbara Vujanović lists and analyses the interventions of other architects that came about in consequence of the appropriation of the building by the differing political systems.
While the exhibition is on, the catalogue will be launched, accompanied by lectures of the authors and other experts.
Meštrović set a bold building programme, a refined synthesis of traditional typology and contemporary technology, applying the two of them in the building of the exhibition hall. As bearer of the tradition, he tended to the use of blocks of domestic stone, from Brač, as the basic building material, but which was in the case of the Pavilion supplemented with a reinforced structure that bore the showy roof. While Meštrović was still working in Vienna, the artistic viewpoint was being promoted that the task of the architect was not necessarily the radical rejection of tradition but the ingenious transformation of it enriched with a new layer of symbolism.
From the essay by Vendula Hnídková
In sum, Meštrović’s pavilion is impossible to understand without the pavilions of Požgaj, Planić and Richter. The totality of the construction and deconstruction of form and meaning makes it a phenomenon in the history of Croatian and world architecture. This is why this exhibition has been put on to mark the 80th anniversary of the construction, to draw attention to the complexity of meanings of the building, and the fact that history, as concluded by architecture historian and theorist Sigfried Giedion, is not dead, rather a component part of existence.
The appropriation of the building and its being bent to the needs of political systems is symptomatic of the whole of Meštrović’s legacy, which has frequently given rise to disputes and appropriations of various kinds. But for this very reason it is founded as a sign of time and space. In this case, Meštrović’s pavilion is a paradigmatic sign of the Zagreb space, and of the time, understood in a plural sense. This sign of Meštrović us a reflection of the understanding of the city (or lack of it) and of the logic of its growth and function, a unit of measurement of tolerance (or lack of it) and care (or lack of it) for the cultural heritage, and also a gage for the consideration of responsibility for its and our future.
From the essay by Barbara Vujanović
While Barbara Vujanović has adduced and given a well-informed interpretation of the history of its spatial and programmatic changes, Hnídková has concentrated on the Croatian Artists’ Pavilion in the context of its origins, also throwing into relief the meaning of the actual original function. She takes us animatedly through the history of its construction, analysing Meštrović’s creative procedure and correlating the Pavilion with other architectural works of Ivan Meštrović. These writers have in their articles imparted an extra and very valuable layer to the exhibition, thus contributing with their professional competence to a well supported interpretation of the artist’s theme.
This exhibition indicates awareness of the polyvalency of architecture and the importance of the analysis of the idea and history of the space and the understanding of the interaction of monument and context, for us to be able to conduct ourselves responsibly with it in this privileged dimension of presentness, the only one in which we can change things. It also tells us that changes also occur by and through cultural and artistic activity, however utopian this might sometimes sound. But the culture of a city has always, by the formation of institutions and by various forms of public activity, and hence by engaged exhibitions, constituted a fundamental urban value and has always been a sign of true urbanity. For cities are places in which culture is both consumed and, above all, created.
Ana Šverko, from the review