Sunday, 31 October 2010

Simone Young Australian conductor of Croatian mother and Irish father

Simone Young Australian conductor of Croatian mother and Irish father

Australian-born Simone Young, of Croatian mother and Irish father, is a conductor who has succeeded in a highly competitive, male-dominated field. Her career as a conductor was launched at the Sydney Opera House in 1985. In 2001 she took up a position as musical director of the Australian Opera and in 2005 she was appointed general director of the Hamburg State Opera.

Croatia European waterpolo champion for 2010

Croatia European waterpolo champion for 2010

The 29th European Water Polo Championship held in Croatia's capital Zagreb was closed on Saturday, September 11, with a magnificent final match between Croatia and Italy. LEN officials, participating teams, the press and fans all described the event in Zagreb as the best so far. Croatia has won gold medal.

Stjepan Krst rises from the ashes

Stjepan Krst rises from the ashes

1992 saw the expulsion of Croats from the parish of Stjepan Krst in Eastern Herzegovina. Their homes were burned and looted, and their church leveled to the ground. None of the above has kept the local Croats from rebuilding their homes and their church.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Strings International Music Festival was in Groznjan Croatia 2010

The Strings International Music Festival was in Groznjan Croatia 2010

Strings International Music Festival students Madison Marcucci, and Michal Marcucci, USA, traveled to Grožnjan, Croatia in August 2010 to participate in theInternational Cultural Center of Jeunesses Musicales Croatia in Grožnjan Festival.

4 Miro Gavran novels in 4 languages at 2010 Frankfurt International Book Fair

4 Miro Gavran novels in 4 languages at 2010 Frankfurt International Book Fair

Miro Gavran, distinguished Croatian playwright, has appeared with four novels in four languages, Chinese, German, Spanish and English, at the 62nd Frankfurt International Book Fair, October 8, 2010, at the Croatian Exhibition Stand. His books have been translated into as many as 32 languages. Miro Gavran's play "All About Women" was premiered in Warszaw, Poland in July 2010.

Srdjan Bulat wins big in Alessandria

Srdjan Bulat wins big in Alessandria

Srdjan Bulat (left) won second place and the prize for youngest finalist at the Michele Pittaluga International Classic Guitar competition. This competition is one of the most important and longest running competitions for classical guitar in the world which has been held for 43 years in the Italian town of Alessandria.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Mestrovic' Significance in the Formation of Yugoslavia in 1918 - J Croatian Studies


At the outset of this century the World of the South Slays was stirred by national and ideological transformation. Ever since the decline of the Ottoman Empire the Balkans had aspired to the formations of their own national states, of which Serbia was also a pivot. In the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire this idea had a far greater impact on the Serbian and Croatian revolutionary intelligentsia than on the larger strata of the people. To this process the static, almost paralytic condition of political life in Austria and Hungary proper contributed even more than the disillusionment of the intelligentsia in Bohemia, Slovakia and, particularly, Croatia and Dalmatia. I recall listening to epic ballads about the Balkans rising from their restless slumber to see the light of the sun from the East, announcing a Pan-Slav resurrection led by faraway Russia. I again stress that these were visions of one fragment of the educated elite, ignored and not shared by the majority of the population.

Folk epic poetry, the Bible and Adriatic rocky mountains inspired Meštrović, this son of peasants living in the barren Dalmatian mountains. He gave to his own people a new epic-determined vision of themselves. His intuitive sense was that Michelangelo had read Dante and the Bible, so he also drew his inspiration from the Bible and the national poetry of his people — he told me again and again. The Bible and the folk poetry gave his creative work the epic dimension.

As a child guarding sheep in the Dalmatian mountain Meštrović cut figures in stone and wood. Rustic protoromanic Croatian sculptures of religious figures and early Croatian heroes and kings impressed the young shepherd on his journeys from his native mountains to the Croatian towns and cities on the Adriatic. The Sibenik cathedral inspired him most of all — with its figures by Giovanni il Dalmata, the Brothers Lauranas and many other native Croatian sculptors. Still a boy Meštrović went to Diocletian's Split to learn stone cutting in the workshop of Pavo Bilinić. From Split he went to study at the Vienna Academy which turned him into an accomplished craftsman. His work was shown in the Salon of the Secession, a modernist movement then in vogue, with which his monumental style and vision was in some contrast. Journeys to Florence, Rome and Paris complete his education. In Paris Rodin befriended him. The old French master, as the saying goes, was to concede that his former pupil had a talent nearing his own, and there was no need for him to continue as his instructor.

In a cultural process suspended between East and West Meštrović transformed the vision of ourselves, through his own inspiration and self-expression which he carried on a direct dialogue with the people of his native land and foretold the beginning of our national and spiritual maturity. He always pointed out that the highest value of every people lies in its contribution to the improvement of the cultural community of brotherhood among nations. Indeed, in the period of the decline of the West, Meštrović' s art stood for a regeneration of moral values. Not only in the religious art which he pursued in the final years of his existence, but also in the epic art of his early years when he created such popular figures as Kraljević Marko, Srgja Zlopogledja and Domagoj with his archers, the pessimus dux Croatorum, as the Venetians called him. These figures became more alive than in folk poetry.

His art gave people at home and abroad a more impressive and graphic vision than the written word, could have ever done, even if lovely and poetic. As the outside world knew nothing or very little except for the few translations like those published by Goethe in his anthology of Folk poetry and Fortis' Viaggio in Dalmazia, Meštrović world of stones opened up new insight into our tragic existentialism.

And, here we reach the decisive period of our national drama and that of Ivan Meštrović himself which took place in 1911 when an international exhibition was held in Rome. In protest Meštrović and his Croatian colleagues refused the invitation to exhibit their works in the Austro-Hungarian pavilion and asked Serbia for space to host the Croatian artists. It was there that Meštrović presented the major heroes of the Kosovo cycle such as Jug Bogdan, the Mother of the Jugovićs, the lovely Kosovo Maiden who suffered so deeply that as the folk poetry says "if she would touch a green tree it would wither away", the Croat Strahinjić Ban and many others. The exhibition ushered a new chapter in modern European art. I shall not quote what the most illustrious European writers and art critics of that time, Giovanni Papini, Ugo Ojetti, James Bone and many others wrote. Instead I shall relate the following story:

In 1927 I visited Maxim Gorki at his villa in Sorrento, in Southern Italy between Naples and Capri. He had lived there for many years and was about to return to Russia to die. Gorki, old and sick, rose waving his hands first asked me: "Was Meštrović's Kosovo temple ever built? "No," I answered. "Shame," Gorki shouted, "shame! " Meštrović is the greatest sculptor the Slays have ever had, he and Tolstoy are the greatest creative artists Slavdom has ever had! Gorki after sixteen years still remembered his visit with the Russian writer Amphiteatrov to the Rome exhibition.

Meštrović wanted the Kosovo Temple to commemorate the brotherhood of all peoples who fought at Kosovo, "Field of the Blackbirds," and in other battles in the defense of Christianity against the Turks. He wanted to resurrect the memory of a great defeat at Kosovo when invading Turkish armies slaughtered Serbian and other Christian armies on Saint Vitus Day — Vidovdan — in the fourteenth century. His vision was that the Kosovo defeat would unite all the peoples in the area irrespectively of religion: the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Moslem; all Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians and even the remaining Turks themselves. Serbian politicians rejected the project for the Kosovo Temple. Although the idea was never realised, some parts of it were integrated in the monument to the Uknown Soldier on the Avala Mountain, where he used his famous Caryathides representing women from all parts of the land.

Meštrović knew the epic cycle of Kosovo by heart and used to recite it to us in his last years. He also knew the epic story of the great figure, the Albanian Skenderbeg, that he discovered in his youth in the book of Father Kačić Miošić Pleasant discourse about the Slavic people. He often recited those verses to us, his younger friends.

The further development of Yugoslavia's internal divisions and conflicts between Serbs and Croats with the aggressive Great Serbian hegemony, the assasination of the Croatian Peasant Party leader Stephen Radić and later of King Alexander persuaded Meštrović to focus on the destiny of Croatia. In the trying times of Serbian oppression Meštrović came out with the statue personifying the Croatian Woman or Mother who holds in her hand a large volume on which is inscribed "History of Croatia," this is what he wanted to defend and perpetuate. The book contains the collection of Laws which made up Pravica — Justice, which Meštrović believed were basic. It was his impressive and convincing protest against the Serbian threat to Croatia's national identity.

Meštrović continued with great power to create the monuments for the cities of Split, and Zagreb. There was great figure of Marko Marulić, the poet of the first Croatian literary poem "Judith"; the figure of Luka Botić, the romantic poet of the love and brotherhood between the Croat Catholic girl and a Moslem boy also a Croat; the monument to Bishop Grgur Ninski who demanded the Croatian language in the Catholic liturgy; and the great monument to the liberal Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, a founder of the Yugoslav Academy and the Gallery of Arts in Zagreb; and many historical monuments for the medieval cities of Dubrovnik and Trogir, and again for Belgrade. All these creative achievements were meant to fill a great cultural void: to overcome cultural retardation and to preach brotherhood, love, tolerance and understanding in a country torn deeply apart.

In the last period of his creative life Meštrović concentrated on the relations between God and Man. This was his "religious" phase dating from his exile in Rome and continued in the United States first at Syracuse University and then at Notre Dame, the Catholic University which was sufficiently foresighted to build him a new studio. It was in Rome where he carved in stone the majestic Pietà which Milovan Djilas representing the Yugoslav government wanted to acquire in 1950 and bring back to Yugoslavia. Pietà which is at Notre Dame and, a copy of it at the Museum of Modern Religious Art at the Vatican, impress visitors by its dignity, courage and hope in resistance to tragic death and its promise of resurrection.

Meštrović died in South Bend, Indiana, two and a half year after his last visit to his native Croatia. He couldn't avoid meeting Tito, but on condition that he must visit first Archbishop Cardinal Stepinac. Though pressed to return to his homeland, he continually refused to live in a country where others could not enjoy the privileges, comforts and freedom the regime promised to him.

The legacy that Meštrović left to his people may be summed up as follows: a small people finds meaning and a place in the human community only if it enriches mankind with the spiritual and intellectual values which it has itself created. Force and power do not possess the strength which mankind needs to survive. He helped to establish Yugoslavia in the years 1914-18 but suffered deeply from its failure to establish an equal partnership among all its nations, mainly because of the hegemony of one ethnic group upon all others. Meštrović was shattered by his inability to prevent the inevitable civil war which raged between Croats and Serbs in the midst of World War Two. Some of us who were associated with Meštrović in the last years here in the United States and listened to his remembrances of the past were impressed by his decent and firm stand in exile. He left behind him all property, homes and buildings, in Zagreb and Split and preferred to live as a free man, in a one family house, in America. He was not disappointed that his art was not better represented in various New York's modern art collections. Upon arrival in New York however, he had the unprecedented honour of being the first living sculptor whose work was exhibited in the great hall of the Metropolitan Museum. His firm belief was that every true expressive creation would survive the changing modes, tastes and styles of its own times and eventually find its lasting place in art history.

As for the future of Yugoslavia that was the dream of his early years, although he had lived and suffered through this country's many tragedies, he never lost faith in the people, and placed the blames of failure on politicians. He was profoundly disillusioned with Serbian leadership, and came to believe that it was unable to organize a multinational state for it stubbornly insisted on a hegemony which ultimately lead to its disaster. 'Whatever the ultimate unraveling of the Yugoslav drama would be, he believed that, any alternative even separation, would be better than perpetual civil war which ultimately would consume and destroy both the oppressor and the oppressed.

He died convinced that the Croatian nation had reached a level of political maturity which was necessary for entrance into a community of independed states and that she would in fact achieve political and national independence and statehood. Meštrović's Croatia has found its noblest expression in the insistence on the principle of Pravica — the Justice. The Croatians have always fought and suffered for Justice. The Centennial celebration of Meštrović's birth should equally offer to those in Croatia as those dispersed all over the world, in diaspora, the opportunity to express their commitments to Justice and Freedom.

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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition byStudia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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Zvonimir Ranogajec preserves the story of the Croatian diaspora on film -

Zvonimir Ranogajec preserves the story of the Croatian diaspora on film

 This historic image of Croatians demonstrating in Washington D.C. for Croatian independence in 1991 is one of many that Zvonimir Ranogajec has captured on over 250 documentary films spanning a period of 30 years about the Croatian communities in Canada and the United States. 

Dr. Ante Cuvalo: Ph.D. dissertations dealing with Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina -

Dr. Ante Cuvalo: Ph.D. dissertations dealing with Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

By the courtesy of  Dr. Ante Čuvalo,  distinguished Croatian historian, we can offer you an impressive and yet incomplete list of recent Ph. D. dissertations dealing with Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, on various subjects, defended in the past several years throughout the world.

Taras Belej painter from Ukraine: Croatia in my heart -

Taras Belej painter from Ukraine: Croatia in my heart

Taras Belej, a young Ukrainian painter, had an exhibition of his works of art in Zagreb entitled "Croatia in my heart" (Galerija Mirko Virius), September 2010. As a four year old deaf child he arrived to Zagreb for rehabilitation at the SUVAG center, the world's leading center for treating deafness, where he started his systematic education, according to the verbotonal method of Croatian scientist Petar Guberina.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Learn Croatian

Learn Croatian

The Institute for Croatian Culture – Studia Croatica (established 1960) offers a Course in Croatian Language – Introductory Level. The course is given using the resources of the Internet.

It consists of a series of 30 lessons which are sent weekly to the students (7 months). The lessons are texts which contain the elements of Croatian grammar and conversation. Translations and explanations are provided in English. Lessons are sent every Monday.

The lessons include sound files, as well as exercises for the student to solve (at his own pace). The solved exercises can be sent to the instructors, who correct and return them back to the students.

The instructors will answer questions or doubts posed by the students.

The instructors are Adriana Smajic and Joza Vrljicak.

The course fee is 300 USD.

For more information, write to

Croatian language - Croatian online course

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

"Vatra i Pepeo" - The Unpublished Memoirs of Ivan Mestrovic - Joseph E. O´Connor - JCS 1983


Ivan Meštrović was a secretive man. Despite the many clues that he left behind, despite the prodigious number of sculptures and other works of art that he created, he remains a controversial and enigmatic figure. He wrote to his second wife, Olga, that it took him a long time to begin to trust anyone, and she insists that the only person he was ever completely open with was his brother, Peter.

His considerable literary output is helpful to those who wish to understand him, but it too presents problems. His memoirs, like all memoirs, must be handled with care; sometimes his memory deceived him. But more importantly, they are incomplete. He had a knack for compartmentalizing his life. Uspomene na političke ljude i dogodjaje offers us a glimpse of his political activity but says virtually nothing about his art, his family or any other aspect of his life.

Some of his other writings also have a memoir quality about them. His Ipak se nadam is sometimes referred to as a kind of philosophical or religious memoir, and his Imaginary Conversations With Michelangelo provide some of his views on art. But each one offers only a fragment of his life and work. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle they have to be carefully examined and cautiously fitted together.

There is at least one major piece of the puzzle that has received little attention thus far: an unupublished autobiographical fragment of about thirty-five thousand words entitled "Vatra i Pepeo" which is included among his private papers. His son translated the work into English and it is on that memoir that this paper is based.

One approaches the memoir with considerable caution. It deals with the decade of the first World War but it was not written until about 1949-1950, when Meštrović was in his late sixties. It is extremely difficult to tell to what extent he is reading back into the events of the years covered in the memoir some of his feelings from a much later time. Moreover, Meštrović was inclined to treat virtually everything he wrote with something of the artist's imagination. He didn't see reality in quite the prosaic way that we do who traipse after his image. He tells us himself that his real world was the world of his "art and imagination". Or rather that he lived in two worlds, "one illusory though visible to others, and the other real though secret and unseen by other people. I guarded and protected my inner world," he says, "and seldom allowed anyone a glimpse of it".

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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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Friday, 15 October 2010

New Observations on Ivan Mestrovic - Dean A. Porter - Journal of Croatian Studies

DEAN A. PORTER, Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983

To better perceive and comprehend the nature and significance of Meštrović's Notre Dame work, it is necessary to have an understanding of the man and his art from his previous years. A brief chronological review of certain aspects that pertain to his earlier career and mention of a few of the major monuments he produced during that time will provide a background from which to begin. Critical issues and questions, however, will be raised in the process, which, I believe, will suggest that a new approach be taken to Meštrović, one that will lead to a more realistic assessment of his work and of his position in modern art.

The artist's talents were recognized early in his life and his art training started while he was still a child in Croatia. He moved to Vienna in 1900 at the age of 17 and soon after was accepted by the Academy of Art where he first studied under Edmund Hellmer and Hans Bitterlich and later under the architect Otto Wagner. He was attracted immediately to the ideologies of the Secessionist movement that was developing in Vienna at the time. His thirst for experiences other than those fostered by the Academy drew the young Croatian to work among its artists.

By the time he was twenty, Meštrović appears to have thoroughly integrated himself within the movement. He exhibited with its artists in their annual shows of 1902, 1905, 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1910. Egon Schiele mentions him along with other Secessionists when he wrote to the critic Arthur Roessler in 1910 pleading: "Why can't there be a large international exhibition in the Künstlerhaus? — I have said this to Klimt — for example, each artist has his own large room or his own apartment — Rodin, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Minne, Klimt, Toorop, Stuck, Liebermann, Slevogt, Corinth, Meštrović, etc. Only painting and sculpture. What a sensation for Vienna! — a catastrophe!" Meštrović appears to have maintained some contact with the Secessionists for years, at least through 1941 when he received a birthday congratulatory message from them.

Meštrović's artistic personality was a most complex one and reflected a number of influences. Two of them, the strong, rich traditions of his Croatian heritage, so filled the literature of his people and the chantings of the Guslar, and the Word, as expressed in the Bible, profoundly affected his art throughout his career. His admiration for Auguste Rodin whom he met in 1904, is well known, perhaps to a greater extent than is known of Rodin's appreciation of Meštrović. Rodin, who considered the artist the "greatest phenomenon amongst the sculptors of the world", posed for his portrait while visiting Meštrović's studio in Rome at the beginning of World War I in 1914. In later years, Rodin served primarily as a guiding inspiration for the artist and less as an artistic influence. And, finally, Meštrović's association with the Secessionists must have been a major factor in his development. The architect Otto Wagner, and the painter Gustav Klimt, a founder and first president of the Secessionist movement, seem to have been especially influential, while the influences of Egon Schiele, who joined the movement a few years after Meštrović did, and other members of the group, were felt to a lesser degree.

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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Nenad Bach in Beijing - Interview for Chinese Radio in Croatian

Nenad Bach will be interviewed by Croatian radio in Beijing, which could be streamed through the website:
on Monday, 18 October at 4-5pm Beijing time [10-11am Zagreb time; 4-5 am New York time; 7-8pm Sydney time].

Friday, 8 October 2010

Mestrovic as a Sculptor in America

LAURENCE SCHMECKEBIER, Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983

The virtue of this particular seminar is that it provides a new look at a distinguished personality from strikingly different viewpoints. The participants are conditioned by a variety of language and nationality traditions. They approach the subject with the different scientific disciplines of their respective professions as historians, political scientists, literary critics, and art critics.

And the times are different. The literature on Meštrović is vast, but it stems largely from the first half of this century. The significance of Meštrović, the Sculptor and Patriot[1] that I was able to present a generation ago offers a challenge even more meaningful in these threatening years of the 1980's than during the revolutionary events of the war and post-war period. In reviewing both periods this man towers as one of the great artistic personalities of this century. Not only did he have a major influence on the culture and politics of our time, but he remains as the embodiment of an ideal in which the artist is conceived not as the Romantic individualist, sufficient only to himself, but is an integral part of society and responsible to the spiritual needs and welfare of mankind. Meštrović's career as an artist reveals an almost superhuman effort to achieve that ideal. In this he belongs in the realm of the greatest: Michaelangelo, Bernini, Rodin.

To judge Meštrović the sculptor it is perhaps more useful to look at his work in terms of his competitons rather than artistic traditions and influences in which he was involved. His spectacular career in Europe from 1904 until 1946 is clear and established; his sixteen years as an artist in America were dramatic and frustrating. Both phases seem to reveal that enigmatic quality which Rodin once characterized as "Meštrović the Phenomenon".

From the beginning, Meštrović dealt with no small ideas, but great ones of stature and profound significance. In the spirit of the Paris Pantheon and the German Valhalla at Regensburg, his Kosovo monument was conceived as a national shrine and tribute to the heroic folk tradition. The architectural plan of the concept remained as an idea and model, seemingly unattainable because of political and economic circumstances, but the sculpture he carved, literally/with his own hands, strong and invincible. And they retain that power to this day. Compare this idea and these figures with what his contemporaries were doing in Vienna, France, and Germany: Kaufman's "Vaterlandslied" (1903) and Metzner's "Niebelungen" fountain in Vienna (1904), Bourdelle's "Monument to the Dead" in Montauban (1902), Vigeland's unparalleled "History of Man" sculptures in Frogner Park, Oslo (1905) and the colossal "Battle of Nations" monument (1906-13) near Leipzig. These all were works which Meštrović certainly knew. While the ideas and motivation might be comparable to what he was thinking, and the scale equally gigantic, the figures themselves in those works were weak, mannered and, as sculptural forms, ineffective. Only Rodin was able to embue the forms with the inner spirit and power of a great idea as seen in the richly expressive figures of his Gates of Hell (begun 1890) and the dramatic Citizens of Calais (1884-86).

There were colossal single figures in the tradition of the classic Athena Parthenos, all with their political and national associations: Ludwig von Schuvanthaler's "Bavaria" in Munich (1843-93), Johannes Schilling's "Germania" (Niederwald, overlooking the Rhine, 1883) and of course our own Statue of Liberty in New York harbor (Bartholdi, 1886). Meštrović certainly knew them and I am sure he was not impressed. His answer is to be seen in his own work: the 1928 Victory Monument in Kalemegdan Park in Belgrade and the magnificent "Gregory of Nin" (1929) before Diocletian's Palace in Split.

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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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Friday, 1 October 2010

Mestrovic in Vienna


MICHAEL MULNIX, Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983

Fin-de-siècle Vienna. It was a turning point in the history of man, a period in which artists and writers began to loosen the shackles of age-old social and moral traditions. It was a period during which Ivan Meštrović would find himself in the mainstream of a revolutionary group of artists attempting to redefine modern culture. In 1900, at the age of 16, Meštrović left his pastoral lifestyle behind and plunged into a world entirely foreign to him, one in which the art of the day was in the process of being intimately joined with the revolutionary modernism of the age. The shepherd boy from Dalmatia had been thrust almost overnight into the cataclysmic Industrial Age.

Although he remained at heart a peasant for the rest of his life, Vienna forever changed Meštrović. Within four years after leaving Dalmatia, he became deeply involved in the turbid social and political environment of 20th century Europe. Almost immediately, he began associating with some of the most influential artists of his age. He arrived in the Hapsburg capital full of youthful enthusiasm, excited at the prospect of entering school and believing, as he later said:

... that a hundred secrets will open themselves before my eyes, and that I shall be able, as if by the touch of a magic wand, to disengage from the rocks legions of heroes whom I see before me in my mind.[1]

Although the political and economic realities of pre-war Vienna did not significantly dampen this enthusiasm, they matured it considerably. Turn-of-the-century Vienna was a maelstrom of activity. The city was at the forefront in the development of new trends in music, art, literature, and psychology. Sigmund Freud was busy constructing theories about the importance of dreams. Otto Wagner was preparing to stretch the boundaries of modern architecture, as was Gustav Klimt in painting. Theodor Herzl was in the process of out-lining a comprehensive plan which was later to take form in the state of Israel, while Gustav Mahler was composing his "music of the future".

Since the 1848 revolution, the city had developed into a cultural mecca, a vast melting pot for people throughout Europe hoping to find a slot in the booming Industrial Age. Clad in his native costume, complete with red Croatian kapa, Meštrović stepped off the train into a new world. He found the streets flooded with others in dress as strange as his own: Czechs, Magyars, and Slovaks. What had a century or so before been little more than a medieval city had been transformed into one of the cosmopolitan capitals of Europe. On a parallel path had come tremendous social, economic, and political change. The age of the Bible was fast being transplanted by the Age of Reason.

The world of art was also being transformed. Artists, frustrated with a life that seemed tame in contrast with the highly publicized scientific community, searched for news formats. Their art suddenly became less representational and more thematic as they began to express their thoughts and feelings about society. The period was characterized by a certain morbidity, seemingly by a desire to shock the ancient empire out of its lethargy. Themes replete with fantasy, hallucinations, visions, and dreams began to appear.[2] Influenced by the dark visions of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, artists became preoccupied with death, violence, and doom. The erotic gained in popularity. In an abrupt transition, artist Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) she his image as the city's leading academic painter and transformed his art into what many Viennese labeled as pure pornography.

The two main artistic bodies in turn-of-the-century Vienna were the Academy of Fine Arts and the Künstlerhaus. Virtually every artist working at the time had ties with one or the other of these organizations. Eventually, however, the more radical artists began meeting in Vienna's innumerable coffee houses where they plotted the overthrow of classical, academic art. At the famous Zum Blauen Freihaus, members of the artistic society Hagenbund met to discuss the new art. At the Café Griensteidl noted journalists and poets such as Hermann Bahr, Arthur Schnitzler, and Hugo von Hoffmannsthall met to debate the issues of the day. The Café Sperl attracted a more exlusive group calling themselves the Siebener-Club or "Club of Seven," and included architects Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and the revolutionary Otto Wagner who was later to have a dramatic influence on the young sculptor from the Dalmatian hinterlands
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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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