Umjetnički paviljon u Zagrebu
Since 1898, when the Art Pavilion in Zagreb had its grand opening with the celebrated Croatian Salon exhibition, making it the first prestigious exhibition venue in this part of south-east Europe, the Art Pavilion has been an essential place in the collective memory and in the formation of the Croatian cultural identity. Originally built as a temporary structure of the pavilion type, meant for the exhibition of Croatian artists at the Millennial Exhibition in Budapest in 1896, the Pavilion with its then contemporary architectural approach featuring a prefabricated metal structure was taken down after the exhibition and moved to Zagreb, where it was reconstructed after a design by the distinguished Viennese architects F. Helmer and F. Fellner in the central city zone, in what was called “Lenuci’s Green Horseshoe”.
The point of origin and epicentre of all the most important visual and cultural events of our modern history of art, during the one hundred and fifteen years of its exhibition tradition, the Pavilion has played a key role in the development and formation of the cultural awareness of the milieu and has been the central location in the promotion of new values and modern trends in art during the 20th century.
With its monumental edifice, from the beginnings used as an exhibition Kunst-Halle (as it is called in the drawings of 1897) the Pavilion soon became one of the hallmark symbols of Zagreb. This was not because it was a unique monument of the pavilion architecture of the end of the 19th century, but mainly because it was a showcase exhibition space of historical importance. It was the space in which, with that very same exhibition of the Croatian Salon, headed by Vlaho Bukovac and including the new generation of young artists trained abroad (in Vienna, Munich and Paris), the foundations of the era of the Croatian Moderne were laid. In this watershed period of our modern history, when a political platform of national determination within the context of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was being formed as a response to the idea of South Slavism, the Pavilion, with its grand building and monumental urban design solution, took upon itself the role of central cultural institution of national significance. Taking its cue from celebrated Kunsthalle in Berlin and Vienna of the time, in its exhibition and cultural events in the coming decades it had an essential effect on the cultural climate and the artworks of the traditional local milieu. It was a key link with the modern currents in Europe, reflecting the modern spirit of the age and accumulating diverse influences and experiences of the art of the time, particularly through the exhibitions of the Spring Salon (from 1916 to 1928) and many later phenomena and trends in social criticism (the Group of Three, Zemlja [Earth]), which set their mark on the art scene in Croatia at the time. Against this broad horizon of historical artistic events, from the influx of new ideas, movements and tendencies, to linguistic and stylistic formations and the artistic trends of later Modernism, which expanded over the European cultural space like seismic waves, the Art Pavilion was and always has been a dynamic scene of events, a relay and a live visual stage on which for more than a century the roles of the main actors have been exchanged, ideas fermented and the artistic oeuvres of the main figures and participants in modern and contemporary art have been promoted, both at the local (I. Meštrović, V. Bukovac, L. Babić, E. Vidović, Z. Šulentić, F. Kršinić, M. Uzelac, V. Gecan and E. Murtić) and at the international (K. Kollwitz, G. Grosz, H. Moore, A. Rodin and K. Kozyra) level; there have also been many exhibitions from leading European museums and galleries.
One particular segment of the series of major and significant projects have been the critical retrospectives, the critical and dossier exhibitions that have dealt systematically with key themes and important chapters of Croatian modern at (Painting of the Munich Circle, A Critical Retrospective of the Zemlja Group, Expressionism and Croatian Painting, Surrealism in Croatian Fine Arts, Cubism and Croatian Painting, The Group of Three and others) and the great post-war cultural events of the Zagreb Salon, the Young Artists’ Salon and ZGRAF, with which the celebrated Lea Ukrainček, at the helm of the Pavilion for three and a half decades (from 1966 to 2000), marked a very vigorous period and profiled the Pavilion as one of the leading museum-gallery institutions in Croatia.
All this shows clearly that through the rich exhibition activity and dynamic history of the Art Pavilion, the history of Croatian modern culture and art has been made visible, turning it into an emblematic site in which epochs have crossed, European influences been accumulated and dispersed, criteria created and permanent values of Croatian cultural and spiritual identity been affirmed.
The builiding has been restaurated in 2013.
The Art Pavilion in Zagreb can be reached by trams nos 2, 4, 6, 9 and 13 or by walking from Ban Jelacic Square 5 minutes to the south.
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