Following my quest to explore the local art scene, I took the opportunity one afternoon to visit the Galerija Umjetnina – the Gallery of Fine Arts in Split. It’s great to be able to just pop over on the morning ferry, no car needed, stroll around Split and catch the evening ferry back. The gallery is housed in a lovely old building round the back of Diocletian’s Palace, just outside the Zlatna Vrata (the Golden Gate). It’s the former hospital building, dating from 1792, which makes it fairly modern compared to the rest of the street! It was specially renovated to make a thoroughly up-to-date art gallery on the inside, with more exhibition space than you’d think from the outside, a rather nice terrace cafe and a shop.
The gallery collects art with a local connection – artists that were born in or around Split, those who lived in the area, and generally art that depicts local themes. The famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović and the painter Emanuel Vidović were both local boys, and you’ll certainly find their work here. Also, one of my favourite artists, Ignjat Job lived and worked nearby on the island of Brač.
I’m much less familar with more recent Croatian art, so the gallery was a good place to start. The ground floor galleries feature exhibitions of works by contemporary artists. When we were there, it was showing One on One exhibit of paintings by Matko Trebotić and Igor Rončević, and a solo show by Tanja Ravlić Čelić.
On the upper floors are exhibits of icons, old masters (from the 14th – 18th century), and the section I was aiming for, the 19th-20th century works. The collection was started in 1908, at the time of the first Dalmatian modern art exhibition, when new creative ideas from across Europe were starting to take hold here, too. Through the 20th century, the collection continued to grow, and includes many of Croatia’s best known artists. My favourites are always the colourists, as you can see from the small selection below, and most particularly landscapes.
This is a beautiful gallery, a lovely quiet space in this bustling city to appreciate some wonderful art. Of course, it’s not the only art gallery worth visiting in Split, and I’ll cover those in separate articles. For now, here are the websites for you to explore for yourself – but I could wish they’d keep these up to date!
Gallery of Fine Arts website and other local galleries
Galerija Umjetnina website: www.galum.hr
Wikipedia article: Gallery of Fine Arts, Split (much the same information, but in English)
Ivan Meštrović Gallery, Split: www.mdc.hr/mestrovic/galerija
Emanuel Vidović Gallery, Split: www.galerija-vidovic.com
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