Art & Culture

Your essential guide to galleries, museums and the performing arts in Croatia

"Hats off" to Zagreb artist Lonac for his new murals
News

"Hats off" to Zagreb artist Lonac for his new murals

Zagreb artist Lonac has unveiled the two new murals he has painted. The paintings, collectively titled 'hat wearers', appear on walls at the Museum of Contemporary Art, located in the Novi Zagreb area of the Croatian capital. The murals complement the current exhibition of photorealism at the museum, which highlights the contribution made to the genre by Croatian artist Jadranka Fatur. The completed works are available to view now, and fans of Lonac are invited to attend the museum on Tuesday 18 December at 6pm when they will be able to see a film made during the process of the artist constructing the pieces.Zagreb-born Lonac is a recognised name on the art scene of his hometown. Since 2013, he has been a member of the P_3 platform, and since 2016 a member of HDLU. Best known for the huge murals he paints on the side of buildings, his grandiose works and the characters he depicts in them, usually based on people he knows or, in this case, those captured in photograph in his home city, can be seen on walls in Grenoble, France, New York and Nanxian in China. One of Zagreb's most famous contemporary artists, he has a worldwide fanbase.

Street art studio Lapo Lapo opens in Zagreb
News

Street art studio Lapo Lapo opens in Zagreb

Street art studio Lapo Lapo opens its doors to the public this weekend, offering two exhibitions, film screenings and workshops, welcoming everyone from art lovers to students and children. The studio has a full programme of events happening at its premises in the city centre at Ilica 50.On Saturday 15 December the studio assumes the feel of a library as artist Antonella Šantek presents her 'Wandering Books' exhibition, which features discarded books given a new lease of life under her artistic interventions. Some of the artist's work will be available to buy on the day.On 21 December 21 exciting and acclaimed young painter, illustrator, designer and street artist, Mislav Lešić - Đurakov holds an exhibition/installation at the venue. Mislav Lešić – Đurakov was a participant of this year's high profile Okolo project, which saw temporary murals appear prominently in Zagreb city centre. From 17 December until the month's end, the studio will hold social gatherings in the afternoons, with film screenings and DJs.

Zagreb's unconventional art fair ArtOmat returns
News

Zagreb's unconventional art fair ArtOmat returns

Had your fill of seasonal sausages and mulled wine? Looking for something unique to buy as a Christmas present for that special someone? If the answer to either is yes, and you're in Zagreb next week, then you may be in luck. After one year absent from the city, the self-titled unconventional art fair ArtOmat returns to Zagreb this December. ArtOmat takes place from 17 to 23 December at the Croatian Association of Fine Artists (known locally as 'The Mosque' with over 70 artists and crafters displaying work that lies at the forefront of contemporary design and art in Croatia.Organised by the Croatian Artists’ Association (HDLU) the event is deliberately pitched towards the alternative side of Christmas shopping, it’s a great place to browse for unique jewellery, alternative-designer fashion, one-off accessories and a host of genuine artworks. The popular event changes format somewhat this year as it grows into a small cultural festival. A new edition to the event, ArtOmat Spotlights, will see discussions between artists, designers and curators. The enlarged exhibiting area for this year's event will hold a new concept of the ArtOmat Walk, with modern and historic art subjects, studio visits and interaction between audience and artists taking part along the route, as well as DJs soundtracking some of the exhibition space.Opening times can be found here

Meštrović’s mark in Zagreb
Art

Meštrović’s mark in Zagreb

Celebrating 80 Years of the Meštrović Pavilion (pictured), this exhibition honours the work of its designer, the architect, sculptor and writer Ivan Meštrović. Taking place inside the Atelier Meštrović, an art museum with a permanent exhibition of Ivan Meštrović's works, the exhibition was constructed by Barbara Vujanović and is a continuation of the research which went into her book 'Meštrović’s Mark in Zagreb', published last year, in which she examined Meštrović’s heritage and work in the museums and churches of Zagreb. The exhibition consists of visual installations by the artist Ivan Marušić Klif which will show all the fascinating phases of the Meštrović pavilion: the building was originally the Home of Croatian Artists (1938-1941), before being commandeered as a mosque (1941-1945). Following the Second World War it became the Museum of National Liberation / Museum of the People’s Revolution of Croatia (1949 – 1991 .), before being returned to the Home of Croatian Association of Artists (1993 – today). Accompanying text to the exhibition comes from Czech art historian Vendula Hnídková, from the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

21 incredible paintings from the new Vladimir Becić exhibition
News

21 incredible paintings from the new Vladimir Becić exhibition

An extensive new exhibition of work by Croatian painter Vladimir Becić has opened in Zagreb's Klovićevi Dvori Gallery. Vladimir Becić is one of the most significant painters of Croatian modern art and it is 35 years since he received such a career retrospective exhibition.Vladimir Becić was born in Slavonski Brod in 1886 and after initial studies in Zagreb he went on to study at Munich's prestigious Academy of Arts. He attended the academy at the same time as three other Croatian painters, Oskar Herman, Miroslav Kraljević and Josip Račić. So key were the three to Croatian 20th Century art that they were often compared to each other and were collectively known as the Munich Circle or Munich Four. After studying in Munich, Becić spent two years studying and working in Paris before returning to Zagreb in 1910. Following a period working in Osijek, Belgrade and Bitolj, he joined the army just before the start of the First World War. He worked as an artist near the frontline, resulting in a series of images of soldiers and the wounded. After the war, Becić changed tack, spending time in a village near Sarajevo painting landscapes and rural subjects. In 1924 he returned to Zagreb to become a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts, a position he held until 1947. From 1934 he also became a member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.The exhibition holds paintings from the length of Becić's career and shows his work from each of the places he lived and worked. It contains paint

The best of Croatia

Zagreb gallery guide
Art

Zagreb gallery guide

Zagreb’s many galleries come in many guises – passionate independent venues rub shoulders with venerable institutions. Consider this your essential Zagreb gallery guide.

Dubrovnik art gallery guide
Art

Dubrovnik art gallery guide

Dubrovnik is not all about luxury hotels and destination restaurants. Step inside our Dubrovnik art gallery guide to discover where to catch some of Croatia's best modern and contemporary art, and coolest exhibition programmes.

Essential Dubrovnik attractions
Things to do

Essential Dubrovnik attractions

Dubrovnik's glittering past as the Republic of Ragusa means it has several stand-out sights of great historic interest, which combine with its scattering of museums and galleries. Fascinating landmarks dot the Old Town an easy stroll from each other, perfect for a day's sightseeing. Consider this your Dubrovnik attractions bucket list.

The best Split museums and galleries
Art

The best Split museums and galleries

A bustling hub in Roman times, Split – which is built around an old Roman palace – is full of unique historic and artistic treasures. Split attractions include a number of museums and galleries that make the city a fascinating destination for art aficionados, historians and sightseers alike. Here's where to head.

Croatia’s top venues for art and exhibitions

Museum of Contemporary Art • Zagreb
Museums

Museum of Contemporary Art • Zagreb

Costing some €60 million and covering 14,500 square metres, the MCA – MSU in Croatian – is the most significant museum to open in Zagreb for more than a century. Its collection includes pieces from the 1920s and gathered since 1954 when Zagreb's original MCA (in Upper Town) was founded. Of particular note are Carsten Höller's slides, similar to the 'Test Site' installation he built for Tate Modern's Turbine Hall but custom-made and site specific for Zagreb – pieces of art patrons can ride to the parking lot. Croatia's outstanding 1950s generation of abstract-geometric artists (Ivan Picelj, Aleksandar Srnec, Vjenceslav Richter, Vlado Kristl) play a starring role in the collection, alongside photographs and films documenting the more outlandish antics of legendary performance artists like Tom Gotovac and Vlasta Delimar. The new-media and computer-art works produced by the Zagreb-based New Tendencies movement in the late '60s and early 70s reveals just how ahead-of-its-time much of Croatian art really was.

Moderna Galerija • Zagreb
Art

Moderna Galerija • Zagreb

Housed in the impressively renovated Vraniczany palace on Zrinjevac, the Modern Gallery is home to the national collection of 19th- and 20th-century art. It kicks off in spectacular fashion with huge canvases by late-19th-century painters Vlaho Bukovac and Celestin Medović dominating the sublimely proportioned hexagonal entrance hall. From here the collection works its way chronologically through the history of Croatian painting, taking in Ljubo Babić's entrancing 1920s landscapes and Edo Murtić's jazzy exercises in 1950's abstract art. Several contemporary artists are featured here too - sufficient to whet your appetite before hopping over the river to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see some more. The Moderna Galerija's most innovative feature is the tactile gallery, a room containing versions of famous paintings in relief form (together with Braille captions) for unsighted visitors to explore.

Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art • Rijeka
Art

Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art • Rijeka

Founded in 1948, Rijeka’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti or MMSU) has long enjoyed a reputation for holding some of the most exciting contemporary art exhibitions in the country. It is also the host of the Biennial of the Quadrilateral, a contemporary art show featuring artists from Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary – a quartet of countries that has had a profound effect on the history of Rijeka. Works from the museum’s large permanent collection are rarely seen save during occasional themed exhibitions – the museum’s current home, in the same building as the Rijeka municipal library, is too limited to host more than the (albeit excellent) temporary exhibitions. The MMSU has been promised a new home in the Rikard Benčić palace, built to serve as the HQ of a sugar refinery in 1752 and currently awaiting long-discussed restoration. The completion date lies some way in the future, although the project will help to confirm the MMSU’s status as an increasingly major player in the Central-European art scene. Over the past few years the MMSU has been run by a string of directors who have also been big-hitting curators – a trend that seems set to continue with the arrival of new chief Slaven Tolj (former head of the Lazareti Art Workshop in Dubrovnik).

Museum of Arts & Crafts • Zagreb
Museums

Museum of Arts & Crafts • Zagreb

This grand Hermann Bollé-designed palace, founded in 1880, was originally based on 'a collection of samples for master craftsmen and artists who need to re-improve production of items of everyday use'. It has now grown to become the country's premier collection of applied art, with a wide-ranging gaggle of pieces from Baroque altar pieces to Biedermeier furniture, domestic ceramics, clocks and contemporary poster design. A side room full of synagogue silverware and ritual candlesticks recalls the rich heritage of Zagreb's pre-World War II Jewish community. On the top floor, a collection of 19th-20th century ball gowns and evening dresses provides a strong whiff of glamour. The museum is also a major venue for temporary exhibitions with big themes, with the photographs of Rene Magritte and the history of Croatian Art Deco drawing recent crowds.

More cultural venues in Croatia

Croatian Association of Artists • Zagreb
Art

Croatian Association of Artists • Zagreb

Visit for the building alone, a circular pavilion standing in the middle of Victims of Fascism Square a ten-minute walk south-east of the main square. The building was designed by sculptor Ivan Meštrović just before World War II as an exhibition space in honour of the then Yugoslav King Peter I. Inside, the circular walls contain three galleries, which span two floors and provide an outstanding venue for a dynamic program of contemporary art exhibitions and events organized by the Croatian Association of Artists (HDLU). The circular central hall features natural light through the cupola.

Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery
Art

Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery

When you tire of all of the “I love Dubrovnik” t-shirts and refrigerator magnets, take a 10-minute stroll from the city walls to the Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery, on the left-hand side of the road that leads to the Excelsior Hotel. This little gem features striking contemporary paintings by Croatian-American artist Selma Hafizovic Muller, who also exhibits in many galleries in New York. Her work is colourful, edgy: a welcome change from all the traditional landscapes, harbour scenes and sunsets.

Croatian National Theatre • Split
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Split

As in Zagreb, the National Theatre in Split played a vital role in the promotion of the Croatian language while the country was still ruled from elsewhere. This venerable institution opened in 1893, first at Dobroma, before this imposing edifice was built decades later. Early performances featured troupes from Italy while a local theatrical culture developed. Today the HNK not only stages Croatian-language theatre, but also foreigner-friendly opera and ballet. It's a major venue during the Split Summer Festival.

City Museum • Rijeka
Museums

City Museum • Rijeka

Set in a pavilion alongside the Governor's Palace – and thus alongside the History & Maritime Museum, making it a convenient first port of call for any first-time visitor to Rijeka – the two-floor City Museum comprises a modest permanent exhibition but stages a number of fascinating temporary ones. Recent subjects have included the development of the torpedo, the history of Rijeka harbour, and emigration from Central Europe to America 1880-1914.

Lauba House • Zagreb
Art

Lauba House • Zagreb

Lurking mysteriously in a little-visited area 4km west of the centre is this brand-new private art gallery, occupying a century-old barrack block painted in alluring matt black by modern restorers. Displaying the collection of businessman Tomislav Kličko, Lauba includes major works by virtually everyone who is anyone in Croatian art from about 1950 onwards. If you've already visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, then Lauba will provide you with a refreshingly alternative take on the local art establishment, concentrating on visually appealing works as well as more conceptual exercises. Figurative paintings by Lovro Artuković and disarmingly bling sculptures by Kristian Kožul are among the highlights.