Ivan Meštrović: Corporeality and Eroticism in Sculpture
In cooperation with the Ivan Meštrović Museums
“All creativity stems from eroticism.” Ivan Meštrović
“Human body is the main source of inspiration to Ivan Meštrović. Regardless of the stylistic orientation and thematic framework, the sculptor invariably explored the mystery of the body. Corporeality and eroticism in sculpture constitute a prominent segment of his entire body of work.” … “Although Meštrović tends to be explicit at times, he actually refers to the primordial human need to create and procreate life, to attain eternity. And this quality has to be acknowledged – he created art for eternity.” Barbara Vujanović and Zorana Jurić Šabić, co-curators
“Ivan Meštrović had several loves. His fame attracted the attention and interest of women. He was very shy, which he compensated with his sculptures, expressing the rapture of Eros through his creativity.” Mate Meštrović, PhD, Ivan Meštrović’s son
Croatia’s most prominent sculptor, Ivan Meštrović is “the greatest phenomenon among sculptors”, according to Auguste Rodin, an artist credited with transforming sculpture into a modern art form. Meštrović’s works have entered the collective memory of three former territorial units (the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), and co-shaped artistic scenes in several European countries and the USA, where he pursued his artistic path.
The magnificent artistic oeuvre of Ivan Meštrović, which includes monumental, historical and mythical sculptures as well as architectural artworks, continues to render him unparalleled among his contemporaries. An artist of authentic figural expressiveness, the idiosyncratic Slavic genius attained broader European recognition early on in his career, holding a succession of resoundingly successful exhibitions in the artistic capitals of the world in the 1920s and ‘30s. Within the context of Slovenian art, it is interesting to note that Meštrović was a long-standing acquaintance of architect Jože Plečnik and, most importantly, that numerous young Slovenian sculptors specialised under Meštrović at the Academy of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb where he taught from 1922.
It is an indisputable fact that throughout his prolific artistic career Meštrović masterfully chiselled some of the finest female nudes of twentieth-century sculpture, figures that stand as ultimate expressions of his luscious Mediterranean sensuality. That is why the exhibition is a meaningful contribution to the scientific study of this subject as Meštrović’s output has rarely been approached from the perspective of nudity and its erotic readings.
Thirty-five years after the first exhibition of small sculptures by Ivan Meštrović at Cankarjev dom the current exposition, adopting an original concept by Filip Beusan and including discrete lighting modulations, offers a new insight into his masterful art. The premiere showing at Zagreb’s Glyptotheca of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2016 was a great success as Meštrović’s output has thus far rarely been approached from the perspective of the naked body, and its erotic readings. Three curators have explored the subjects of nudity and eroticism in the works of Ivan Meštrović (made between 1903 and 1946), from three different angles: Dalibor Prančević, Barbara Vujanović and Zorana Jurić Šabić.
The exhibition includes over fifty works, sculptures and drawings from private and public Croatian collections, including the Meštrović Atelier (Zagreb), the Meštrović Gallery (Split), Glyptotheca of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Zagreb), the Graphic Art Cabinet of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Zagreb) and the Gallery of Fine Arts (Split).
A note on the lighting design
In the desire to highlight all the subtleties of Meštrović’s works and enhance the viewing experience, a special lighting scheme has been designed with a view to presenting two equally compelling exhibitions.
During the first, 20-minute lighting design, all sculptures and their subtitles are illuminated according to a classical exhibition lighting scheme, whereas during the second, 10-minute illumination, only five masterpieces are highlighted (Vestal Virgin, Miloš Obilić, Two Widows, Well of Life and Old Woman). After the second lighting scheme, all exhibits and their subtitles are illuminated again.
The CD Gallery shop sells: exhibition catalogue in Slovenian and English, publications on Meštrović’ work (Rodin v Meštrovićevem Zagrebu, Meštrovićeve crikvine, DALEKI AKORDI: glazba kao inspiracija u djelima Ivana Meštrovića in druge), posters and various gifts.
The exhibition and shop opening hours: Tuesday–Saturday between 10am and 7pm, Sundays and holidays until 6pm.
CD Gallery, € 6, 4*; discounts for organised groups
Public guided tours in Slovenian every Thursday at 5pm.
Guided tours in English by appointment.
* younger than 25, older than 65 and pensioners
Public guided tours
In Slovenian every Thursday at 17.00: free of charge, included in the admission price
Guided tours for groups
Requests for guided tours must be received at least a day in advance. We recommend booking early as requested dates/times are subject to availability. A guided tour generally lasts between 45 and 60 minutes.
Further information and group bookings: email@example.com or 01/24-17-161
Guided tours for school groups, visitors younger than 25, older than 65 and pensioners (10 to 30 persons)
Admission: EUR 3 /person
Guided tour: 3 EUR/person + guide surcharge EUR 20 /group
By appointment only
Other groups (10 to 30 persons):
Admission: EUR 4 /person
Guided tour: 4 EUR/person + guide surcharge EUR 20 /group
By appointment only
Lectures by Dr Svetlana Slapšak
Programme accompanying the exhibition of sculptures by Ivan Meštrović
Delivered in Slovenian, no translation provided
TUE, 23 January 2018, at 18.00
New Body for a New Psyche
Viennese schools of thought and Meštrović; how Freud and others influenced the artist’s perception of the body and eroticism
THU, 8 February 2018, at 18.00
The Future as Eroticised Past
How the naked body became the underlying principle of Meštrović’s utopia
THU, 15 February 2018, at 18.00
Open and Closed Body
Meštrović and sex differences; how the dynamic of sexually dimorphic traits influenced Meštrović’s art
Kosovel Hall, single lecture €5, 3*
Main exhibition sponsor