Art of Yugoslavia

Art of Yugoslavia refers to the visual arts of Yugoslavia. It was shaped by a number of Yugoslav painters, sculptors and graphics artists.


Visual arts in the territories that later became Yugoslavia, was mainly reduced to religious arts until 19th century. At that time Yugoslav art was still attached to baroque tradition and, along with romanticism in Yugoslav literature, secural motives were establishing very slowly. First romantic, Biedermeier and classicist painters were all schooled abroad and painted mostly portraits. At the turn to 20th century with the influence from western metropoles secession came to Slovenia and Croatia. Vlaho Bukovac organized painters society in Zagreb with many exhibitions, while in Belgrade Kirilo Kutlik set up the first school of art in 1895. Secession artists Hinko Smrekar and Maksim Gaspari produced mostly graphics, while Ivan Meštrović became known as a sculptor.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

With the formation of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes Avantgarde took primacy in Yugoslav arts. Modern currents as expressionism, cubism and surrealism emerged with new young artists like Petar Dobrović, Jovan Bijelić, Milo Milunović, Sava Šumanović, Stane Kregar and Gojmir Anton Kos. Later, with the political crisis in the 1930s, social themes emerged with critical attitude to old forms. Mirko Kujačić wrote a A Manifesto of Zenitism, while Krsto Hegedušić founded a radical group Zemlja in Zagreb. In Trieste, constructivism was strong with Slovenian painter Avgust Černigoj. Institutionally Yugoslav art was supported by new Art Academy in Zagreb and Belgrade School of Painting. Sculpture was not as developed as painting and it stayed mostly under the old influence of Ivan Meštrović. Other notable sculptor of this era was Antun Augustinčić.

Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia

Not much art was produced during the World War II in Yugoslavia, with mostly partisan graphics being preserved. After the war old styles and techniques persisted until esthetic utilitarism and social realism were introduced with the new socialist system. In 1950s new avantgarde and fantastic elemnts emerged once again with the estetics of shock. In the time of SFR Yugoslavia no single dominate style existed with many new institutions and societies being formed in Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade and other bigger cities. Special phenomenon, recognized also abroad, was self-taught naive school in Hlebine with Ivan Generalić. On the other side academic approach became prevailent, forming many courses and experimenting with geometry, magic, colors, photographic realism and other elements. The most famous groups were New tendency from Zagreb, Group 69 from Ljubljana and December from Belgrade. Famous artists of this period include Miodrag B. Protić, Branko Miljuš, Miljenko Stančić, Vladimir Veličković, Vjenceslav Richter, Ivan Picelj, Miroslav Šutej, Janez Bernik, Jože Ciuha and Adriana Maraž. Along with painting there was also a huge flourishing of graphics, while sculpture in SFR Yugoslavia was less diversiform and mosty soc-realist, resembling Yugoslav architecture.


  • Camillo Semenzato - Svet Umetnosti, MK Yugoslavia, 1979
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