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Exhibitions and Projects

Plečnik Project

Early Modern Slovenian Architect

On the occasion of its EU Presidency, Slovenia presents one of its greatest minds whom expert circles worldwide recognized as an outstanding artist quite some time ago.

The architect Jože Plečnik (1872–1957) began his professional career in the joiner's workshop of his father in Ljubljana and then completed his training in Vienna with Otto Wagner, who admitted him to his class on the grounds of great talent, despite the fact that Plečnik had no proper prior education. After a decade of freelancing in the Austro-Hungarian capital, he became professor at the Applied Arts School in Prague. After the First World War, the first Czecho-Slovakian president, Tomaš Garrigue Masaryk, got him to convert Prague Castle into the presidential residence. In 1921 Plečnik returned to his homeland, where he kept designing architecture all until his death, and concurrently brought up the first generation of Slovene architects. He was a deeply religious man and entirely devoted to the ethical mission of his profession. His view of life was in sharp contrast to the type of the modern architect: he did not travel; his daily needs were extremely modest; he would refuse to accept payment for his work; he disliked writing about him; and, above all, he distrusted the one-sided technical enchantment of our civilization. Nevertheless, he was the architect who built – ten years earlier than Auguste Perret – one of the first modern reinforced concrete churches in Europe, which the then Austro-Hungarian crown prince scornfully labelled as »combination of a stable, a Venus temple and a Turkish bath«. Plečnik was also among those who decisively participated in the development of Art Nouveau in Vienna. Even the critical Adolf Loos wrote favourably about him. Plečnik's students were, thanks to their cultivated drawing skill, welcome in Le Corbusier's studio; the Swiss architect called the aged master »le fameux dessinateur ? la main tremblante«. With the help of Semper's theory of cladding, Plečnik developed a highly personal creative attitude to antiquity. In the time of Functionalism, he would tackle the fundamental questions of classical architecture, ignoring what his contemporaries might think. He systematically transformed his native town into the capital of the Slovene nation, so that we now speak about the notion of Plečnik's Ljubljana similarly as about Palladio's Vicenza. He was a master of refined design that reaches from the applied arts to monumental buildings and urbanism. His architecture ranks as an outstanding example of critical regionalism and is one of the rare competent alternatives to uniformism of the so- called International Style.

Quiet and modest in life, Plečnik was rediscovered posthumously and won international recognition with the great retrospective exhibition at the Centre G. Pompidou in Paris in 1986. The exhibition was prepared by the architect Boris Podrecca, who has also organized the current presentation in Brussels. It shows a representative overview of Plečnik's oeuvre, with the emphasis on his works for the capital of Slovenia.
Damjan Prelovšek

The exhibition organized and the catalogue edited by
National Gallery of Slovenia, represented by Barbara Jaki
in collaboration with
Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique / Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, represented by Michel Draguet

Exhibition concept and design
Boris Podrecca, assistants: Jaka Napotnik and Marko Pretnar

Author of the catalogue, photography and expert advisor
Damjan Prelovšek

Curator of the exhibition and editor of the catalogue
Mateja Krapež

Technical realization of the exhibition
RPS d.o.o.

Catalogue, promotional leaflets and poster design
Mojca Višner

Production: RTV Slovenia, Educational program
Director: Amir Muratović
Director of photography: Marko Kočevar

Film documentation
Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, Slovene Film Archives
Mojster Plečnik, 1952, director Mirko Grobler
Arhitekt Jože Plečnik, Promocija, 1952, camera Ivan Marinček

Ortophoto of Ljubljana
Public Information of Slovenia, Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia, DOF

Lucijan Bratuš

Works of art lent by
Arhitekturni muzej Ljubljana; Bogoslovno semenišče Ljubljana; Frančiškani Kamnik; Mestni muzej Ljubljana; Muzej krščanstva na Slovenskem; Nadškofija Ljubljana; Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica; private collectors; Ustavno sodišče Republike Slovenije; Župnijski urad Jarše; Župnijski urad Kostanjevica na Krki; Župnijski urad Ljubljana, Barje; Župnijski urad Ljubljana, Šiška; Župnijski urad Ljubljana, Trnovo; Župnijski urad Radovljica; Župnijski urad Stranje; Župnijski urad Škofja Loka

Project was made possible by
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia

Wiener Städtische zavarovalnica
Sony Slovenija