Top artworks by the coolest Croatian sculpture you’ve never heard of (probably).
If you’ve seen one too many kissing couples by Rodin, think Calder is overrated, and that Brancusi is too complex to understand, the sculptures of Ivan Meštro- vić will be more than a welcome sight for your sculpturally aware eyes. Born in the boondocks of rural Croatia, Meštrović later joined the influential Vienna Secession group (of Gustav Klimt and The Kiss fame). His sculptures are semi-realistic, but show elements of stylization. Since he grew up in a Catholic country, Meštrović’s sculptures are heavily influenced by Biblical themes. Put your hours in Sunday school to use as you admire statues of Jesus and Mary, juxtaposed with classically in influenced sculptures such as his Vestal Virgin. The artistically inclined will be more than happy to know that there are plenty of works by Meštrović in Croatia. Here are our top picks:
1. Galerija Meštrović
“Villa” is an inaccurate description of Meštrović’s palatial summer house, located outside of Split. Designed by the architect himself and later donated to the state, this museum has the most important works of the artist anywhere. ere are no frauds in the sublime white marble sculptures displayed back to back in his carefully planned villa. And with views of the Adriatic Sea to boot, it’s a classic example of killing two birds with one stone.
2. Račić Mausoleum
Started from the bottom now we’re here: that is at the top of a hill just outside the old center of Cavtat, an easy ferry or bus trip to the south of Dubrovnik. The Račić Mausoleum was one of Meštrović’s first architectural works, and made headlines when it won an architectural prize in Paris in the 1920s. The building is unlike any architectural style you’ve seen with its incredible dome. Surrounding the mausoleum is a small cemetery with great views of the peninsula and surrounding water.
3. Statue of St. Greogry of Nin
We are hype for this over nine-foot statue outside the historic center of Split. It basically looks like a giant statue of Santa Claus, except it’s not. It’s Gregory of Nin, a Croatian that no one we met has ever heard of. But hey, you learn something new every day.
On a quest to commune with his Slavic heritage, Gavin will surely encounter an ungodly number of Yugoslav bunkers, empty bottles of rakija, and communist carbonated beverages as he roams Croatia this summer. Always equipped with his trusty headlamp and Adidas tracksuit, he hopes to gain firsthand experience for a future dissertation on the evolution of Slavic memes. Expect rants about the Venetians, nostalgic poems about glories of pan-Slavism, and a thorough investigation of Croatia’s greatest contribution to the world: the necktie. When he’s not exploring the Balkans, you can find Gavin schlepping his way across Boston to find the best Polish deli, dragging his friends to art museums, and avoiding checked baggage like the plague.