Where to see art in Zagreb
Housed on the second floor of the 18th-century Raffay Palace, this collection is a solid introduction to Croatian Naive Art, mostly the work of self-taught peasant painters from the villages of the east. The collection is frequently rotated but there are usually plenty of representations of rural life executed by the big names of the genre: Ivan Generalić, Mirko Virius and Ivan Rabuzin. Also included are international primitives such as the self-taught Polish-Ukrainian artist Nikifor.
Occupying a rather charming trio of barrel-vaulted rooms in a Baroque town house, this gallery is displays works by members of the Croatian Association of Applied Artists. Ceramics, photography and fashion design feature strongly in a varied menu of changing exhibitions.
Set in the stunning space of a former Jesuit monastery in Gornji Grad, this is the major venue for touring art exhibitions, mixing blockbuster international shows with exhibitions on Croatian themes. Subjects in recent seasons have included German Expressionism, Marc Chagall and the Russian avant-garde.
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.
This neo-Renaissance palace, built in 1884 to accommodate Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer's private collection of European paintings, is Zagreb's foremost collection of old masters. They are hung in nine intimate rooms on the second floor. Italians fill the first six, with Fra Beato Angelico's 'Martyrdom of St Peter' in room 1, Bellini's newly restored 'Saints Augustine and Benedict' in room 3, and Carpaccio's 'Martyrdom of St Sebastian' right next to it. The collection continues with Flemish (Brueghel), Dutch and German painters, with a final room devoted to the French – 'Portrait of Madame Récamier' by Jean Antoine Gros is the stand-out picture here.