Straddling the National Divide: Yugoslavism, Furore Orientalis and Ivan Meštrović's Vidovdan Temple (1906-1913)
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Modern interpretations of the Vidovdan Temple (1906-1913), the fundamental artwork associated with the Yugoslav project, have seen it as a symbol of multicultural, synthetic Yugoslavism. Yet these readings seem to be, to say the least, problematic. While working on his masterpiece the then already internationally-renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović imagined it as an architectural-sculptural whole of gargantuan scale that would provide an alternative reading of the history of South Slavs on the brink of their political union. Dismissing deeply antagonizing and mutually exclusive histories of each particular South Slavic nation, he created a mixture of historical references mainly borrowed from archaic Greece and Oriental cultures such as Egyptian, Assyrian, Byzantine, as well as Gothic and paleo-Christian. Meštrović’s historicization and aestheticization of South Slavs’ alleged common identity was not a mere pseudo-historical visual concoction, but was based on an elaborate ideol...ogical concept of Yugoslav primordialism that was inextricably linked with the ideological instrumentalisation of the Orient in Central Europe at the time. Consequently, his sculpted heroes created an alternative historical narrative of South Slav history and supported a vision of the past which became extremely instrumental in both legitimizing and questioning the Yugoslav project in decades to come.
Keywords:Ivan Meštrović / The Vidovdan Temple / Yugoslavism / Archaism / Yugoslavia / Ideology / Nationalism / National identity
Source:Art and politics in Europe in the modern period : programme and book of abstracts : 29 June 2016 - 2 July 2016, Zagreb, Croatia, 2016, 50-51
- Zagreb : Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb