THE ROUND TABLE

MUZEOLOGIJA 36/1999
The works of Ivan Mestrovic in collections, museums and galleries


• Visnja Zgaga, Introduction

We can speak about the artistic and charismatic personality of Ivan Mestrovic from various viewpoints. Ideological, religious and political considerations have been "poor witnesses", a wrong key for the understanding of his work. Ivan Mestrovic is a fine example of a true artist, a powerful author whose work, both in sculpture and architecture, represents sufficient grounds for evaluation. The artist was conscious of this fact and wanted his artistic act to be if not the only then at least the main criterion for assessing his merit. In this light we can also explain the fact that the greatest Croatian sculptor of the 20th century fortunately donated to his homeland the greatest artistic donation of this century. Along with the bequest that included family house and studio with the collection of 62 sculptures that was later expanded to 85 sculptures in Zagreb, his villa, studio, chapel and 70 works of art in Split, as well as the tomb, the church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Otavice, Ivan Mestrovic and his family not only made additions to the bequest but are also responsible for the Gallery in Vrpolje and the Mestrovic Collection in the Drnis Museum. The gradual increase of the donation through a wonderful and generous gesture of Mestrovic himself and his heirs, the Studio today holds 312 works, while the Gallery in Split now numbers 811 works of art!

In the vein of Strossmayer, Mimara and Bauer and many other collectors who were also donators, Mestrovic's donation of his own works and, what is more, the donation of the rooms where these works were created and where they stood, represents a unique cultural fact for our country. In a wonderful way, Mestrovic's donations follow his life: from his birth in Vrpolje, through his residence and his studio at the house in Mletacka Street located within the historical centre where he was active during his intensive social involvement and collaboration, especially in the field of architecture (in 1925 Ivan Mestrovic provided the impetus for opening an architecture department at the Art Academy), then through his residence and studio at Meje and the reflexive Kastelet in Split, the collection in Drnis as an homage to a friendship and his roots, all the way to the close of his circle of life in Otavice.

Along with an impressive number of facilities and works of art, there are also respectable archival and documentary holdings concerning Mestrovic in Croatia. In order to promote museological and scholarly research, the Ivan Mestrovic Foundation was set up in 1991 and an act of Parliament made it an institution that is charged with preserving and promoting the work of the great sculptor. With respect to this, an important step was made in the elaboration and publication of the artist's bibliography for the period between 1899 and 1993. Even a cursory look at this publication (with 5599 bibliographical units) reveals the breadth and diversity of the reception of Mestrovic's art and the importance of his personality. Therefore, we already have many developed segments that enable the evaluation and interpretation that every period has to undertake.

The circumstances of Mestrovic's donations and the sculptor's opus in other museums (with the exception of the Art Gallery in Dubrovnik) in Croatia are a sum of "museum facts" that were the subject of a round table discussion organised to mark forty years of activities and thirty years of the exhibition of Ivan Mestrovic's works at the Mestrovic Studio. The basic intention of this commendable initiative was to revise the content and evaluate the artistic and documentary holdings concerning Ivan Mestrovic in museum institutions. All the papers are published in this issue of "Muzeologija", and they in the best way provide a summary of the museological picture of the situation in Croatia. But, with respect to a sculptor who had an international career, and who, furthermore, lived and worked most of his life abroad, these facts are only a part of the results of the investigation of Ivan Mestrovic's opus. Only a small part of his work abroad has been studied and published, for example in Vienna (the Wittgenstein Collection), Paris, Rome (the Signorelli Collection) and Great Britain. Then there is the large American opus created during Mestrovic's stay in America in the period between 1924 and 1928 and from 1947 to his death in 1962. Only a small part of Mestrovic's opus is in private collections and donations or in public places. Most of the works of art are today kept at the University at Syracuse, the largest public collection of works in America at the University of Notre Dame where a Mestrovic Gallery has been opened within the framework of the university museum, as well as in Louisiana, in the arts and science centre in Baton Rouge. All these aspects need to receive detailed treatment, and we hope that the results of this research will be published in one of the future issues of this periodical.

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• Ljiljana Cerina, Forty years of work and thirty years of the permanent exhibition at the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb

In 1920, after having spent some twenty years in various European cities, Ivan Mestrovic bought a complex of houses from the 17th and 18th century in the Old Town in Zagreb, in Mletacka Street, numbers 6, 8 and 10. He refurbished this complex into a family home with the addition of a studio and atrium (1920-1923). In order to carry out the building of the annexe and the refurbishment, he commissioned the architect Viktor Kovacic, and later on the architect Harold Bilinic. Ivan Mestrovic lived in this house with his family until 1942, when he left Zagreb.

A bequest was drawn up between Ivan Mestrovic and Milos Zanko as the representative of the government of the People's Republic of Croatia in the form of a contract on January 31st 1952, and this deed formed the basis for the formation of the Mestrovic Studio as a museum and gallery institution. Ivan Mestrovic donated:

  1. The house and studio in Mletacka Street in Zagreb with a certain number of works in marble, bronze, plaster of Paris and wood. The artist's home was refurbished into the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb.
  2. The family villa in Split, with a large number of works in marble, bronze, plaster of Paris and wood. This building was also turned into a museum and gallery institution: the Mestrovic Gallery in Split.
  3. The Crikvine Kastelet, a fortified Renaissance villa that Ivan Mestrovic bought in 1939, was adapted according to his plans and the Church of the Holy Cross and an atrium were added. Today, Mestrovic's stone bas-reliefs with scenes from Christ's life and a crucifix are exhibited at the Church of the Holy Cross.
  4. The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, with the tomb of Ivan Mestrovic's family in Otavice, was built according to the design by Ivan Mestrovic (1926-1931). The sculptor and members of his family are buried in the crypt.

In 1954, following the bequest, the Conservation Department in Zagreb took over the supervision and temporary administration of Ivan Mestrovic's collection in Mletacka Street, while on January 1st 1959, the administration of the collection at the Mestrovic Studio was handed over to the City Gallery of Contemporary Art in Zagreb (later the Galleries of the City of Zagreb). The City Gallery of Contemporary Art drew up a long-term plan of work for the Mestrovic Studio as well as a plan for restoring and presenting the permanent exhibition of the Mestrovic Studio.

The first part of the permanent exhibition of the works of Ivan Mestrovic in the atrium, studio and garden of the Mestrovic Studio was formally opened to the public on September 6th 1963. The exhibits were selected by Vesna Barbic, and the exhibition was designed by Edo Kovacevic. The adaptation of the atrium, studio and garden was carried out according to the design by the architect Miroslav Begovic, and his work received the Award of the City of Zagreb for 1963.

The second part of the permanent exhibition of the works of Ivan Mestrovic was open to the public on March 21st 1969. The adaptation of the house and the exhibition design were carried out according to plans by the architect Vojteh Delfin, while the selection of exhibits was once again made by Vesna Barbic. The Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb was then completely open to the public.

The permanent exhibition of the works of Ivan Mestrovic at the Mestrovic Studio includes 100 sculptures in marble, stone, wood, plaster of Paris and bronze, as well as 18 drawings and 8 lithographs from the Album of Lithographs from 1923.
The exhibited works of art were made and drawn by Ivan Mestrovic during the first four decades of his work, namely between 1904 and 1942. The concept of the exhibition was subordinated to the demands of the space, so that it did not follow a chronological order, stages of development or the thematic grouping of exhibits, but in such a way as to enable the visitor to experience the powerful creativity of Mestrovic's all-round characteristics in the authentic surroundings where the artist lived and worked.

In 1991 the Parliament of the Republic of Croatia adopted the Act concerning the Ivan Mestrovic Foundation that unified Mestrovic's bequest, namely the institutions of the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb (the administrative centre), the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery and the Crikvine Kastelet in Split and the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer (the family mausoleum) in Otavice.
Today the holdings of Mestrovic's Studio hold 312 inventoried works by Ivan Mestrovic and works by other artists (Anka Kuzmanic, Stipe Sikirica, Marijan Trepsa, Ljubo Babic and others). The holdings were expanded over the years primarily by casts in bronze with the permission of Ivan Mestrovic or his heirs, as well as through acquisitions and donations of works of art. Over the years much archival and documentation material has been collected, as well as a library, a collection of photographs, press-clippings and so on.

Mestrovic's Studio also holds items that are the property of the heirs of Ivan Mestrovic and were not included in the 1952 bequest, but are kept at the Studio. There is also a number of works by Ivan Mestrovic as well as those by other artists, the Ivan Mestrovic archives, a library, a collection of photographs and architectural plans of Mestrovic's projects and monuments, both those that have been realised and those that have not.

The Ivan Mestrovic Foundation supervises and cares for the entire donation made by Ivan Mestrovic with the basic aim of protecting the name and work of Ivan Mestrovic and with the task of a professional and adequate presentation of the bequest to the public. Our aim and activities include the collection, the keeping of records, the professional and scholarly historical and artistic treatment of the life and work of Ivan Mestrovic as a whole, as well as the foundation of an information and documentation centre for the study of the artist's work. Furthermore, our task is to present the works of Ivan Mestrovic through the organisation of exhibitions and participation in exhibitions of various types, both in Croatia and abroad, relating to the work of Ivan Mestrovic.

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• Miroslav Begovic, The design of the exhibition rooms,
the atrium and the garden of the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb in 1963

Ivan Mestrovic chose the Upper Town in Zagreb as his permanent home in 1922. The first associate in the construction of his studio and the adaptation of an old residential house was Viktor Kovacic, but he was soon replaced by the architect Harold Bilinic. It was here that Mestrovic worked for almost twenty years, and in 1952 the artist donated the building and a large number of sculptures in it to the Republic of Croatia. The refurbished exhibition space – the atrium, studio and the courtyard – was open to visitors in 1963.

The refurbishment of the atrium, studio and the courtyard into exhibition space began in 1960. Faced with the dilemma whether to present the surroundings in which Mestrovic worked or to exhibit his art, it was decided in favour of the latter. The task of refurbishment was complex and extremely difficult – the aim was to shape and link the half-open space of the atrium, the closed space of the studio and the open space of the garden for Mestrovic’s strong sculptures and the free movement of visitors, and allow not only daylight but also evening visits to the exhibition.

In refurbishing the spaces, the romantic relationship towards the studio was avoided, while the atmosphere of the original surroundings was at the same time preserved and brought in line with the demands of the modern treatment of exhibition rooms. Special attention was devoted to lighting, both natural and artificial.

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• Ivo Maroevic, The architecture of the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb
and the Mestrovic Gallery in Split in the function of Mestrovic's work

The special nature of the fact that Mestrovic’s works that are kept in museum and gallery institutions in Croatia are exhibited in buildings that were designed with this aim in mind by the sculptor Ivan Mestrovic himself represents a special museological value and rarity. It commits and stimulates museum workers to presenting his works in such a way so as to achieve the necessary links with the language and significance of Mestrovic’s architecture or feeling for space. By this we mean that these spaces are not neutral exhibition rooms of museum institutions that collected works of art, but are rather spaces full of meaning with respect to the artist’s life, spaces that have absorbed non-material meanings and added them to their material structure.
In this context the paper analyses the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb and the Mestrovic Gallery in Split. In the former, an atmosphere was created of a home from which people have moved out and sculptures, reliefs and sketches moved in. The Mestrovic Gallery in Split is also simultaneously a residential building, a studio and an exhibition space. But it has not retained the warmth that we feel in the rooms of the Studio in Zagreb. It allows certain departures that will not be at the expense of the quality of the memory of a great artist. But it should in no way depart from the concept according to which its aim is to use the architecture in a way that will contribute to the understanding of Mestrovic’s work and his wish to build a house at a location without peer.

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• Marijan Susovki, Exhibitions of works by Ivan Mestrovic from the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb
and the Mestrovic Gallery in major European museums

During 1987, and then in 1989 a great exhibition devoted to Ivan Mestrovic was presented in several renowned European museums. In 1987, Mestrovic’s works were presented in the West Berlin National Gallery, the Museum of the 20th century (Museum of Modern Art) in Vienna, the Kunsthaus in Zürichu and the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and in 1989 in the Nova Tretjakovska Gallery in Moscow, the Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg and the Ukrainian State Museum of Fine Art in Kiev. Plans were also made to present the exhibition in Warsaw in 1990, but they were never materialised. The exhibitions were organised by the Galleries of the City of Zagreb, and were reciprocal in character. They enabled significant art projects in Zagreb – the exhibition “100 masterpieces of the National Gallery” from Berlin, the exhibition of works by Kazmir Maljevic from the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, while the Palazzo Reale from Milan loaned the exhibition “Italy in the Thirties”, while Kiev provided the exhibition “The Ukrainian Avant-Garde 1910-1930”. The problem linked with the national origin of Ivan Mestrovic was solved through a compromise: he was presented as a Croatian and Yugoslav artist. The aim of the exhibition was to place Mestrovic primarily in the context of art in the world, but certain political connotations were unavoidable. Even today, Mestrovic remains politically undefined, and the exhibition did not provide him with the place in world art that was hoped for.

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• Dusko Keckemet, Additions to Mestrovic's works in the Mestrovic Gallery in Split

On January 31st 1952, the Government of the People’s Republic of Croatia signed a bequest agreement with Mestrovic by which the artist donated to “the people and county of Croatia” residential houses in Zagreb and Split, the family mausoleum in Otavice and works according to enclosed lists. This bequest gave the Mestrovic Gallery in Split ownership of 70 sculptures, including a considerable number of Mestrovic’s best known works. The first exhibition at the Gallery in 1957 contained some 120 works, some that were owned by the Gallery and some owned by Mestrovic. The exhibition in 1983 numbered some 200 exhibits, 137 of them owned by the Gallery, namely almost double the number from the bequest. That is to say that the sculptor’s bequest laid out the basic framework for the Gallery, which received additions to its holdings through the continuing care on the part of the artist and his family, as well as those in charge of the Gallery. Some of the plaster sculptures were, either in arrangement with the author, or later with his widow and daughter, executed in stone or bronze in order to preserve them from decay.

Mestrovic himself was opposed to the replication of his sculptures, and allowed the casting of replicas only in exceptional cases that served a public function, and he wanted as many of his works as possible to be exhibited in one place – in the house that he built with that purpose in mind in Split. Through numerous activities, the Mestrovic Gallery in Split doubled its exhibited and stored holdings, carrying out the principle that Mestrovic himself recommended: that the sculptures be exhibited only in the final material – stone, wood and bronze, and not in the preparatory and generally unappealing plaster of Paris (except in the studio, which presents sculptures as they are being made).

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• Bozo Majstorovic, The permanent exhibition of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split
as a museological and architectural challenge

In the course of working on the permanent exhibition of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split, the aim was to use the selection of the works primarily in order to establish the criteria of artistic quality. We needed to harmonise numerous elements, from the quality of the work to the need for selected works to elaborate the story of Ivan Mestrovic’s artistic adventure, through the harmonisation of demands for the best possible presentation of every particular work and the given space, to the respect for and recognition of the architectural and spatial framework. The fact that Mestrovic lived and worked here, that this represents its architectural style and taste, does not allow a one-sided approach to the concept of a permanent exhibition – the presentation of sculptures, reliefs, paintings and drawings must be reconciled with the presentation of the architecture. But principles are one thing, while the possibility of their consistent implementation is something else. In 1991 the preliminary design of the permanent exhibition was elaborated, and in 1997 it was concluded that a new museological concept should be developed that takes into account all the good solutions offered in the previous one. The present permanent exhibition is the result of a decision to place Mestrovic’s work in the foreground. But the integral project for the Gallery was not realised – on the location where the new administrative building was supposed to be constructed, a private home was built, and in this way we lost the possibility of establishing the Gallery in a spatial sense and enabling the development of its profile as a museum institution.

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• Vinko Peracic, The permanent exhibition of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery in Split as an architectural challenge

The project of the permanent exhibition of the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery began in May of 1997 after the completion of the work on the repair and refurbishment of a section of the Gallery. These interventions increased the area of the exhibition rooms at the expense of office space in the former residential part of the palace. A new expert team from the Gallery viewed Mestrovic’s work in a new way and proposed a new museological concept that has brought works together according to a thematic key. A spatial “autonomy” needed to be ensured for each sculpture, but in such a way so as not to lose sight of the exhibition as a whole. Each sculpture was “charged” with contributing to the shaping of spatial views that are aimed at subtly leading visitors through the rooms.

The fact that Mestrovic wanted to “be alone” in his palace and the fact that the sculptures require a backdrop, led to the use of screens. Colour was used to emphasise the original character of the palace theme and bring it in line with the architectural framework of the sculptures. The aim was to give the special character of each room as well as thematic wholes a specific expression with al least one strong spatial accent. The mounts were shaped as simple metallic volumes in the colour of wall surfaces with a recessed glass ending. The insertion of simple wooden boards enables the indirect lighting of the space and the direct lighting of the sculptures.

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• Iris Slade, Mestrovic's Most Holy Redeemer from the artist's idea to the principles of restoration

At the height of his creative powers and life, at the age of 43, Ivan Mestrovic decided to build his own graveyard chapel near his birthplace of Otavice. This building, known as the church of the Most Holy Redeemer or the Ivan Mestrovic Mausoleum. In his contract of donation dated January 31st 1952, the artist donated to the Croatian people the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery and the west part of the Kastelet in Split as well as this building in which he was buried in 1962. The building of the chapel began in 1926, four years after the completion of the Mausoleum of the Racic family in Cavtat. The short span of time that lapsed between the construction of buildings with an identical function, the identical principle of selecting a prominent location on top of a hill, the same basic ground plan of the interior, as well as similar decorations on the floor bear witness to the fact that Mestrovic had, from the idea to the realisation of the Most Holy Redeemer, greatly drawn on his experience from Cavtat. The contemplation of the harmony between nature and architecture probably led the artist to provide for the building of a bridge across the Cikola river, as well as for the landscaping of the surrounding area.
During the occupation in 1991, the building and the surroundings were devastated. The aim of the reconstruction was to return to the original appearance – the entire immovable inventory (except the altar, which should be restored soon), the building itself and the surroundings have been restored, while the moveable inventory is still missing. At the moment the most pressing is the problem of the doorframes – if the bronze portraits are not found soon, they will be cast again in bronze from existing plaster models. However, the gypsum of the tenth cassette is missing, for which there are several options – from the valorisation of the integral appearance of the doorframes to a free interpretation.

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• Ljubica Dumencic, Ivan Mestrovic's Memorial Gallery in Vrpolje – 27 years of activities

Ivan Mestrovic was born on August 15th 1883 in the Slavonian village of Vrpolje. The wish that Vrpolje should mark his birthplace in a worthy manner has been expressed as early as in 1936, but the conditions at that time and the threat of war, as well as the artist’s emigration postponed this event until 1957. It was in that year that the “Ivan Mestrovic” Cultural Society was founded. From the very beginning, the society established communications with Mestrovic, who was at that time living in the United States. He showed a great interest for the efforts of the people of Vrpolje to build Mestrovic’s Museum in Vrpolje and, from the outset, he helped them in achieving their goal – the very next year, in 1958, he donated the sculpture “Mother and Child”. However, the artist’s death, a lack of money and the situation in the village postponed the building of the museum for several years. The construction of the Gallery began in 1969. After completion, it was agreed that the Mestrovic Studio and the Museum of Plaster Casts from Zagreb would loan 22 plaster statues made between 1905 and 1935 for the permanent exhibition, while Mrs Olga Mestrovic donated a large number of photographs and documents relating to the life and work of her husband. The permanent exhibition also includes photocopies of pages from Mestrovic’s “Map of Lithographs” from 1923. The Gallery was opened on June 3rd 1972. Soon after the opening, the first changes were made to the permanent exhibition. The Gallery obtained four bronze sculptures. Marija Mestrovic is credited with providing several more sculptures for the Gallery. During the war the Gallery suspended its work and continued it with the same intensity after several years. Along with being involved in exhibitions, the Gallery is also active in publishing, and its work has been recognised on numerous occasions on the local and state level.

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• Josko Zaninovic, The exhibition and gallery presentation of works by Ivan Mestrovic
in the Museum of the Drnis Region

Almost 40 years ago, Ivan Mestrovic bequeathed 26 works to the town of Drnis, and primarily to Nikola Adzija, for inclusion in a future museum collection. In their correspondence, Mestrovic and Adzija mention the founding of a museum-gallery whose basic holdings would consist of Mestrovic’s works donated to his home town as well as of the cultural and historical holdings that were for the most part collected by Nikola Adzija. The founding of the Museum of the Drnis Region was put on hold until 1971. Since the work of the Museum was directed at studying the workers’ movement and the development of socialist self-management in the Drnis region, Mestrovic’s works were not presented in the way they deserve. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the sculptor’s birth (1983), a new exhibition gallery was built, and this solved the problem of a permanent exhibition, but works by Ivan Mestrovic had not even then received a special place in the exhibition. On this occasion only several of his works were cast in bronze and a catalogue guide was printed “MESTROVIC, Drnis – Otavice”. The last works that came to the holdings of the Museum were three bronze sculptures that were donated to the Museum by Marica Mestrovic in 1988. In September of 1991 Drnis was occupied and the enemy army took most of Mestrovic’s works to the fort in Knin, where most of them were found when the region was liberated in 1995. However, 7 paintings, 3 reliefs from the cycle “The Life of Christ”, several plaster portraits, the sculptures “Our Lady of Petropolje”, “Mother and Child” and others. Some works in plaster of Paris as well as much of the archival holdings related to Mestrovic were destroyed. After liberation, Mestrovic’s works, as well as the other holdings from the Museum found in the fort in Knin were returned to Drnis and stored in temporary rooms where they are waiting for the restoration of the Museum building that was damaged in the war.

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• Bozena Klicinovic, Plaster casts of works by Ivan Mestrovic in the Museum of Plaster Casts
of the Croatian Academy of Science and Art in Zagreb – a chronology of storage

This paper was written on the basis of documents kept at the Museum of Plaster Casts of the Croatian Academy of Science and Art, which date from the time when on several occasions plaster casts of Mestrovic’s works began to come to the institution from his studio at Josipovac 5 and the loft in Ilica 12. Namely, immediately after World War II, Mestrovic’s threatened sculptures were moved from these two locations to the Museum of Plaster Casts as a “temporary solution”. However, this temporary solution has proved to be a long-term salvation for 54 years. The largest part of today’s collection of Mestrovic’s plaster casts that consists of 262 works, was moved to the Museum of Plaster Casts from the summer of 1946 until the autumn of 1949. Today, the opus of works by Ivan Mestrovic is the largest among the large collections of works by other artists and makes up a tenth of all the works from the collection from the 19th and 20th centuries. The permanent exhibition presents 25 of his works.
The Museum of Plaster Casts has the obligation of undertaking new initiatives for spatial conditions conducive for the presentation of the whole of Mestrovic’s opus, and particularly the monumental models such as the four “Nikes” or some other works that are unknown to the public at large. Namely, the inventory of the Museum of Plaster Casts holds 31 works that have not as yet been reproduced in any monograph about Ivan Mestrovic.

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• Igor Zidic, The works of Ivan Mestrovic in the permanent exhibition of the Modern Gallery in Zagreb

Several undisputed important facts link Ivan Mestrovic and the Modern Gallery in Zagreb. The Modern Gallery was perhaps the first museum institution in the world (or at least one of the first) that included a work by Ivan Mestrovic in its holdings. Furthermore, the director of the Gallery, professor Ivo Srepel, was brave and loyal friend who, in 1942, included the names of Ustashe prisoners Ivan Mestrovic and Jozo Kljakovic on the list of Croatian exhibitors at the 23rd Biennial Exhibition in Venice, and in doing so freed them from jail. The next director of the Gallery, Zeljko Grum, published the monograph “Ivan Mestrovic”, the first after 28 years in the sculptor’s homeland and the last to be published during his lifetime. The Modern Gallery holds 30 of Mestrovic’s works (but this number should be taken to be tentative). Namely, when the Yugoslav Academy took over the Gallery after World War II, there were 30 works on the list. Two sculptures were added to the collection in 1945, but they were subsequently returned to their owners. Two sculptures were moved to institutes in the Academy, and the inventory was thus reduced to 26 works. 16 of them were loaned, namely placed in the care of the Museum of Plaster Casts of the Academy in Zagreb. And so there were 11 potential exhibits for the new permanent exhibition in the Gallery (10 + 1 newly acquired female portrait), and 6 of them were selected. There are: “The Portrait of Petar Brani” (1903), “The Portrait of Karmen Matic” (1914), “The Portrait of Ruza Mestrovic” (1915), “Girl with Lute” (1918), “Angel with Flute” (1919) and “The Portrait of Vladimir Becic” (1932). The author deals with each individual work and its place in the new permanent exhibition of the Modern Gallery.

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• Vesna Barbic, The works of Ivan Mestrovic in Karl Wittgenstein's Collection in Vienna

Karl Wittgenstein was an exceptionally important person in the cultural and artistic life in Vienna at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The assumption is that Wittgenstein’s character, his instructions and advice that he gave to Mestrovic in his letters to a certain extent influenced the shaping of the young sculptor, and particularly his art. Information concerning Mestrovic’s works in Karl Wittgenstein’s collection are kept in the old files from 1919 (the archives of the Mestrovic Studio, the Ivan Mestrovic Foundation, Zagreb). The same archives hold another source – letters from 1908 and 1909, which Karl Wittgenstein wrote to Mestrovic in Paris, as well as letters from 1911 written to Mestrovic in Rome. These letters provide much information not only about the artist’s wishes and views on art, but also about the prices, the materials and the execution of the works, as well as young Mestrovic’s possibilities for work, the conditions for his work in Paris and the artist’s firm convictions in creating his works. Judging from these letters, Wittgenstein played a great, albeit short-lived, role in Mestrovic’s life, enabling, through his assistance, namely the commissioning and purchase of his work, Mestrovic’s financially secure sojourn and work in Paris in 1908 and 1909. Their connection continued in 1911 when Wittgenstein agreed to loan Mestrovic’s work for an exhibition in Vienna, as well as when Mestrovic mediated in the purchase of a sculpture by Rodin for Wittgenstein.
The old files of the Mestrovic Studio list 14 of Mestrovic’s works that were included in Wittgenstein’s collection. Mestrovic bequeathed some of these works in plaster to the Mestrovic Studio in Zagreb, and the “Spring of Life” was bought by the artist himself from Wittgenstein’s heirs in 1957 and given, after the payment of compensation, to the Drnis municipality.

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