Balkan Arts

posted in: Balkans 2014, Plans | 0

There’s only one artist from the countries I’ll be visiting that I’ve ever heard of: Ivan Meštrović. But I only just figured out why I’ve heard of him. For a while Meštrović taught at Syracuse University, where I (much later) went to college. And a number of his sculptures are displayed on the SU campus. The one I remember most vividly is this bronze sculpture of Job from 1946.

Meštrović lived from 1883 until 1962. Some of his famous monuments are in places I’ll be visiting.

Gregory of Nin (Split)
Račić Mausoleum (Cavtat)

The Ivan Meštrović Gallery in Split is dedicated to his work, but I don’t know if I will have an opportunity to visit, as it is not near the old town.

There are other artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, but I am having a heck of a time figuring out if any of them are important enough for me to seek out their work while I’m there. And I don’t know anything about any composers or novelists or playwrights from the region.

The 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature went to a Bosnian writer, Ivo Andrić. His best-known novel is The Bridge on the Drina, published in 1945.  Perhaps I will read it on the trip. (I’m currently reading A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, which is a novel based on Hemingway’s own experiences as an ambulance driver in the areas along the Italian and Slovenian border during World War I.)

The Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra (Sarajevska Filharmonija) celebrated its 90th anniversary last year.  Seven of its members were killed during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s.  But in June 1994, Zubin Mehta led the orchestra in a performance of the Mozart Requiem in the ruined City Hall, and gradually the orchestra has undergone a renewal.  They are actually doing a concert one evening when I will be there, and I am attempting to get a ticket (which does not seem to be possible on their web site).

Arts and culture aren’t really the point of this trip, though, all things considered. And I typically think of cities and towns in Europe as outdoor museums, filled with beauty to behold around every corner.

Featured image: Job by Ivan Mestrovic (1945) in the Shaffer Sculpture Court outside of Bowne Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2012.

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