Croatia Arts and Architecture

By | June 1, 2022

Remarkable are the remains of the Roman and Byzantine period in Croatia, from the Diocletian’s palace in Split to the Euphrasius basilica (6th century) in Poreč. In the 8th -10th century. numerous small churches were built (Greek cross with dome) and various churches with a basilical plan, the cathedrals of Arbe, Zara, Trogir and, in the context of sculpture, the wooden doors (1214) of the cathedral of Split by Andrea belong to the Romanesque period Buvina and the portal of the cathedral of Trogir (1240) by the master Radovan. From the end of the 13th century. Gothic forms appear in the Franciscan churches of Pula and Poreč and in the Zagreb cathedral. From the middle of the 15th century. Renaissance and Gothic forms merge, under the Venetian influence, in the creations of Giorgio da Sibenico in Split, Ragusa, Zadar and Sibenik. In the 15th century. Luciano and Francesco Laurana, Giovanni da Traù and the painters G. Schiavone and A. Meldolla are also active. Examples of Baroque architecture are the churches of S. Caterina in Zagreb (1620-32) and S. Ignazio di A. Pozzo in Ragusa (1699-1725, damaged in 1991) and, for painting, the works of F. Bencovich and I. Ranger. In the 19th century. academic classicism is followed by a historical painting linked to the national revival (F. Quiquerez, N. Mašić).

Bukovac (1855-1922), head of a school based on color, introduces modernism to Croatia The sculptor I. Meštrovićstands between symbolism and art deco. An increasingly socially engaged art is represented by the Zemlja (“Earth”) group, founded in 1929 in Zagreb. After the Second World War, more than adherence to socialist realism, the avant-garde experiences that have followed one another since the 1950s are interesting: the Exat 51 group (I. Picelj ; V. Richter ; A. Srnec etc.) and Nove Tendencije (the international movement to which V. Bačić, J. Dobrović, M. Sutej also joined); the first conceptual experiences carried out in Zagreb between 1959 and 1966 by the Gorgona group (M. Jevsovar, J. Vanista, J. Knifer, D. Seder etc.). The artistic production of the last decades of the 20th century presents analogies with international experiences: minimalism, conceptual art, body-art, video art, anachronism, multimedia and installations. E. Schubert works in the field of neo-geometry; T. Gotovac expresses strong social criticism with happenings and performances; G. Petercol is the author of minimalist sculptures, actions and installations with multiple meanings; S. Iveković and D. Martinis work in the field of video art; Ž. Kipke, from whose cultured formal eclecticism a surrealist matrix emerges; Z. Vrkljan, author of melted glass and plastic sculptures and installations; I. Deković, author of installations with salvaged objects, photographs, videos; M. Kramer, painter and sculptress, investigates material and mental spaces; S. Tolj creates installations decontextualizing objects linked to the history and culture of his city (Ragusa). Among the architects we remember B. Megas, D. Posavec, A. Uglešić.

According to, Zagreb remains the most important cultural and artistic center with the Museum of Modern Art, enriched in the 1980s and 1990s by important donations, such as the collection of works by the architect, urban planner and painter J. Seissel (1904-1987), who from 1990 also manages the house-museum of V. Richter, donated in 1980 to the city. Other significant institutions, the Gallery of Modern Art of Rijeka and the Museum of Modern Art of Ragusa, which since 1995 also hosts the contemporary art biennial Incontri Mediterranei (Mediteranski Susreti). We must also remember the school of naïve art, active after the Second World War in Hlebine.

Architecture. – The political events of Croatia following the break-up of Yugoslavia and the war in the Balkans determined in the nineties of the 20th century. a period of great and sudden changes, influencing the development of architecture. Faced with a situation of endemic instability, with the lack of strong institutions, the collapse of rules and the reduction of government programs, Croatian architects have developed a fertile aptitude for experimentation and demonstrated resistance and constancy in the construction of national identity, supported from the formation of new institutions (among the most relevant AUC, Union of Croatian Architects) which ensured innovations in the profession and favored the establishment of numerous architectural firms, also encouraged by the growing number of public competitions.

The stabilization of the political-economic situation in the early 2000s, which ended with Croatia’s entry into the European Union (2013), now corresponds to a parallel architectural maturation marked, on the one hand, by direct influences from abroad (in particular countries Bassi, France, Spain), on the other hand by a stability of the local architectural culture preserved without opposition to modernism. Alongside the activity of already established professionals – such as Nikola Bašić (b.1946), author of the recent environmental arrangements Sea Organ (2005) and Greeting to the Sun (2008) in the hometown of Zadar, and the Field of crosses (2010) on the island of Kornat, and the Penezić & Rogina studio (1991, but active since the early 1980s), 2013 award of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts for the Japan-Croatia Friendship House in Tokamachi (Japan, 2012) and author, among others, of the Srdoči nursery school in Rijeka (2011) and the Dalmare shopping center in Sibenik (2010) – it is the work of emerging studies from the 1990s that has attracted attention, even with prestigious awards international. Among the best known names: Igor Franić (b. 1963), signatory of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (2009), the largest museum institution in Croatia; Helena Paver Njirić (b. 1963), designer of the memorial museum in Jasenovac (2006), winner of the 2007 Carlo Scarpa international prize; njiric +, founded in 2001 by Hrvoje Njirić (b. 1960) after the closure of the njiric + njiric studio with HP Njirić, active both in public construction (MB kindergarten in Zagreb, 2008) and in private construction (Gracani residential settlements, 2007, and Rural Mat, 2008, both in Zagreb) ; Idis Turato (b.1965), author of the recent sports building with a square in Veglia (2013), joined in partnership until 2009 with Saša Randić (b.1964) with whom he signed many projects – among which, the Fran elementary school Krsto Frankopan (2005) and the Katarina Frankopan kindergarten (2009) also in Krk, the Lapidarium Museum in Novigrad (2006), the Pope John Paul II Pastoral Center (2008) in Rijeka – and, together with Franić, HP Njirić, 3LHD, Studio UP and others, the Croatian floating pavilion for the XII International Architecture Exhibition in Venice in 2010; 3LHD (1994), World Architecture Festival) in Barcelona 2008, the Zamet multipurpose center in Rijeka (2009), the Lone hotel (2011) and the Amarin tourist settlement (2013) both in Rovinj, all characterized by an experimental approach aimed at integrating disciplines different and from a local-global planning attitude; UPI-2M (1995), signatory group of the Zagreb Arena sports hall (2008), awarded for the structural project at the WAF in Barcelona 2009; Studio UP, formed by the young Lea Pelivan (b.1976) and Toma Plejić (b.1977) authors of some of the most innovative architectural projects, such as the Golly + Bossy Hostel in the center of Split (2010) and the secondary school 46 ° 09’N / 16 ° 50 ‘ And in Koprivnica (2007), special mention at the Mies van der Rohe Award 2009.

Croatia Arts