Art & Culture

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

Free art displayed across Croatia today for 'Art in the Street' day
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Free art displayed across Croatia today for 'Art in the Street' day

Although there's a breeze in the air, it's a bright and sunny day across Croatia. And today, the sun is shining its rays down on hundreds of artworks that are being displayed outdoors for the 'Art in the Street' (Art na Cestu) day. Photographs, paintings, drawings and poems are just some of the works that have been pinned to public buildings or temporary display lines, each with the message 'Adopt me' (Udomi mi) attached, inviting the public to take home for free anything they see which they like. This is Art in the Street's third annual occurrence. The ambitious scheme is organised by the Karlovac-based art collective F12 and marks World Community Art Day. With the event, F12 hope to encourage the idea of art as a tool for social development and to make it accessible to all. Last year, the event featured some 25 artists who exhibited around 135 works in the Croatian cities of Karlovac, Zagreb, Zaprešić, Velika Gorica, Osijek, Zadar, Varaždin, Marčan (Vinica) and Sisak. This year, towns and cities such as Kutina, Dugo Selo, Djakovo and Šibenik have also enthusiastically 'adopted' Art in the Street, with a sister event also taking place in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. For the first time, artists working in media outside of painting and drawing have this year contributed, including writers, musicians, performers, poets and makers of arts & crafts. The event began at midnight last night and continues until midnight tonight, so keep a look out for anything you see in the

The best exhibitions of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020
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The best exhibitions of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020

Rijeka is a city with internationally-recognised museums, galleries and collections. For the city's special European Capital of Culture 2020 year, each of the existing institutions alongside the main event organisers have pulled out all the stops in order to fill every space available with exhibitions to satisfy all. From past masters to contemporary art and everything in between, here are some of the best exhibitions of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020.RECOMMENDED: The best interactive and installation events of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020

Art and Life Are One: the “Earth” Association of Artists 1929-1935
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Art and Life Are One: the “Earth” Association of Artists 1929-1935

Founded ninety years ago, Zemlja or ‘Earth’ was one of the most influential movements in the history of Croatian art. As this major exhibition demonstrates, the artists who came together under the Zemlja banner shaped a distinctive Croatian visual style that is still very much around today.  The main aim of the Zemlja group was to develop an art that could attract a broad public and also function as a critique of an unjust society. According to Zemlja, art should play a documentary role in recording what life in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia was really like: it was no longer enough to idealize the peasantry as some kind of folkloric national bedrock clad in traditional costumes, you also had to describe rural poverty and do something about it. The other key aspect of the Zemlja philosophy was the creation of an authentically local art that would have local roots, and which would not simply be an extension of the latest art trend from Berlin or Paris.    Most talented painter of the group was Krsto Hegedušić (1901-1975), an artist committed to depicting the realities of rural and working-class life. Together with painters Juraj Plančić, Ivan Tabaković and Oton Postružnik, he arranged exhibitions which had a clear socialist message. They formed the Zemlja movement in 1929, with architect Drago Ibler writing the manifesto. ‘You have to live the life of your times’ it declared, ‘because art and life are one.’ Hegedušić was also was a key sponsor of the self-taught village pain

The best interactive and installation events of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020
Things to do

The best interactive and installation events of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020

Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 is not just for spectators. The city's community have helped shape the events happening within the year and some of those extend a further invitation for everyone to join in. From the carnival parade and the bell-ringing of the inauguration ceremony to giant robots you can manipulate and art installations you can walk beneath or touch, here are some of the best things to do within Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020 at which you can all join in.RECOMMENDED: The best exhibitions of Rijeka European Capital of Culture 2020

Explore the street art of Slavonia
Art

Explore the street art of Slavonia

Think of Vukovar and you think of its symbols: the prehistoric Vučedol Dove, the Water Tower, and its local shoe factory. Now a new series of images is defining this city on the banks of the Danube. Much of it was created recently – at a major international event here in June 2019, in fact. The third, and so far biggest, stret art festival involved five painters from as far afield as Brazil and Indonesia. Their creations embellished five locations to add to the dozen or so others produced in 2017 and 2018. Zabou 'This is a new concept in the city’s urban culture,' says co-organiser Krešimir Herceg. 'It promotes Vukovar as a place which accepts all artists and creators of exceptional value. We can change the visual identity of the city and make it more beautiful for residents, just as any painted city becomes more attractive to tourists.' Juandres Vera The murals, exemplified by 2019’s Vagabond by Lonac on riverfront Županijska cesta and Dating by Wild Drawing (WD) at out-of-town Hrvatskog ratnog zrakoplovtstva, have one thing in common: they were all created with perspective in mind. Lonac 'It all started in 2016 when the City of Vukovar arranged for Croatia’s only 3D street artist, Filip Mrvelj, to come up with an anamorphic painting on the one small bridge over the narrow river Vuka, in the centre of town,' explains Herceg. 'After the painting was finished, it caused a big stir in the media and the rest is history!' A year later, held over two weeks in June

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
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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
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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

Croatian National Theatre • Rijeka
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Rijeka

Both an architectural and cultural landmark, Rijeka’s Croatian National Theatre was designed by the same team of architects as its namesakes in Split and Zagreb: Austrian Ferdinand Fellner and his German partner Hermann Helmer. In fact, the pair created dozens of theatres across Europe, from Odessa to Zürich, this one opened in 1885. Though Croatian-language performances here may be of limited interest, there’s also ballet and opera on the agenda, and the interior is worth a look around – Gustav Klimt and brother Ernst helped paint the ceiling before its grand unveiling, a performance of Verdi’s Aida.

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.

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.

Croatian National Theatre • Zagreb
Theatre

Croatian National Theatre • Zagreb

This neo-baroque landmark, opened by Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef in 1895, played a vital role in the establishment of a Croatian national identity. What you find today is a sumptuous interior – a suitably ornate backdrop for local-language theatre, congresses and promotional events.

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.

Natural History Museum • Rijeka
Museums

Natural History Museum • Rijeka

Behind the Governor’s Palace it overlooks, Rijeka‘s Natural History Museum established its large collection of specimens from the Kvarner Bay, Gorski Kotar and Istria, thanks to private collectors from the mid 19th century onwards. Key displays include one of sharks and rays, and a geological history of the Adriatic Sea.

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.