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Exhibitions and Projects
15 October 2009–6 December 2009

Drawing in Slovenia I


Drawing does not have a long tradition in Slovenia and precisely because of that it has remained a somewhat overlooked creative field in the study of Slovenian art history. It gained rather more attention as an independent medium after the middle of the twentieth century through theme-based exhibitions and at biennial presentations dedicated solely to drawing, whereas attention has been redirected towards it more obviously in recent years.

The exhibition encompasses the period of Realism through early Modernism, when drawing still played the subordinate role in the preparatory stages of the creative process as a learning method, an educational tool and preparation in the execution of the artwork. It enabled a reflection on problems and toying with solutions, but rarely do we find drawing before the First World War that is intended as such. With the generation of Realists, Slovenia gained a series of brilliant draftsmen. In the drawing oeuvre of Jurij Šubic we discover some daring attempts that go beyond his most successful painterly creations. Already in the oeuvres of these artists can we often detect the anticipation of the diversification of the medium that was carried out by the next generation with their engaged caricature, illustration, book design – predominantly tied to the group named the Vesnani. At that point the first emancipatory tendencies of the medium revealed themselves in the oeuvres of Fran Tratnik and Hinko Smrekar. The historical avant-gardes speeded up this process during the twenties, while at the same time drawing began to establish itself in individual oeuvres as a means of visualising intimate, existential experiences, a testimonial means of contemplating the world, and a direct subjective means of expression. The thirties serve up a socially critical response on the one hand, and the emancipation of the visual experience, for which drawing is an ideal medium, on the other. The war actualised the meditation on life that gained some of the most harrowing documents in the works of Mušič and Pregelj. The exhibition presents the first attempt at defining drawing excellence in Slovenian art during the last 150 years and, besides certain icons, puts on show drawings that have never been exhibited or have just recently been discovered.

The national project Drawing in Slovenia 1870–2009 was conceived by Aleksander Bassin. The presentation of the older drawings entitled Drawing in Slovenia I, 1870–1950 was taken on by the National Gallery of Slovenia, whereas the second part bearing the title Drawing in Slovenia II, 1940–2009 has already been exhibited at the City Art Museum at Mestni trg and the spaces of the permanent collection at Cankarjevo nabrežje in Ljubljana. The latter included 139 artists with around 315 works.

Drawing in Slovenia I, 1870–1950 is the first overview of older Slovenian drawing from the representatives of Realism to the Neodvisni generation. The selection is based on public collections in the National Gallery of Slovenia, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary History, Maribor Art Gallery, Kromberk Goriško Museum, whereas the most obvious missing areas have been supplemented from two private collections. The selection includes 53 artists with 85 drawings which, between 1870 and 1950, represent a functional diversity, certain material characteristics and creative achievements within this medium. Individual artists are presented by four drawings at the most, by which we attempted to also create a positioning of the artists according to quality.

Project organisers
City Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana – City Art Museum Ljubljana
National Gallery of Slovenia
Museum of Modern Art

Conception of
Drawing in Slovenia 1870–2009
Aleksander Bassin

Author of the exhibition and project leader of
Drawing in Slovenia I, 1870–1950
Andrej Smrekar

Catalogue editor
Andrej Smrekar

Authors of the introductory studies
Igor Kranjc, Andrej Smrekar

Authors of the catalogue entries
Mateja Breščak, Barbara Jaki, Mojca Jenko, Igor Kranjc, Andrej Smrekar

Mateja Krapež, Nataša Kovačič, Ingrid Draksler, Ivan Čulk

Exhibition set up and graphic design
Ranko Novak

Conservation and restoration
Tina Buh, National Gallery of Slovenia; Nada Madžarac, Museum of Modern Art; Lucija Planinc, Archive of the Republic of Slovenia

Exhibition material has been loaned by
Kromberk Goriško Museum; City Museum and Galleries of Ljubljana, City Museum of Ljubljana; Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana; National Museum of Contemporary History; National Gallery of Slovenia; Maribor Art Gallery; private collections, Ljubljana

The exhibition was supported by
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia; Vidal, d.o.o.; Geoplin, d.o.o.

Drawing in Slovenia I, 1870–1950

15 October 2009–6 December 2009
The exhibition is prolonged to 17 January 2010!
National Gallery of Slovenia
Prešernova 24
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Drawing in Slovenia II, 1940–2009

25 May 2009–17 September 2009
City Art Museum Ljubljana (
Mestni trg 5
1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

12 November 2009–14 February 2010
Maribor Art Gallery (
Strossmayerjeva 33
2000 Maribor, Slovenia