Matko Meštrović

Matko Meštrovic was a leading figure in the international New Tendencies (in Croatian: Nove tendencije) art-movement in the 1960s. His publications cover inter-disciplinary critical theory, art criticism, and new information technologies.
His books Dispersion of Meaning - The Fading Out of the Doctrinaire World? (2008) and Towards a New Orientation (2012) are published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

 

Art historian, former professor at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb, interdisciplinary oriented, he is today emeritus senior research fellow at the Zagreb Institute of Economics. He was a leading figure in the international New Tendencies movement in the 1960s. His publications cover inter-disciplinary critical theory, art criticism, and new information technologies. He was director of the Institute for Culture of Croatia for five years (1987-1992). His interest in technology and information science goes back to activities in the Croatian Sociological Society and the International Association of Mass Communication Researchers (IAMCR) in the 70s. Being the consultant to general manager of Zagreb Radio and Television, he tried to introduce the most advanced professional and theoretical know-how concerning public information. The 60s were the period of his life completely devoted to the newly established Centre for Industrial Design. Then, he was also very close to ICSID (the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design). He already had gained a reputation among avant-garde artists and scientists as the organizer of the international New Tendencies movement (Donald D. Egbert, Social Radicalism and the Arts - West Europe, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1970). He was also a member of Zagreb art group Gorgona.

As recently documented by a huge book about New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961-1973, ed. by Margit Rosen, The MIT Press, 2011, that was a short but intense artistic experiment which took place in Yugoslavia some fifty years ago, but whose impact has been felt far beyond that time and place. It was through the activities of that movement, known as Nove tendencije, and its supporting institution, the Galerija suvremene umjetnosti, Zagreb, that the “thinking machine” was adopted as an artistic tool and medium.

As Darko Fritz has explained, during the late 1950’s and early 1960s group of artists start to resist the notion of individual artists’ expressions of than-dominated informel and abstract expressionism. The new approach was rational art that appropriated scientific working methods and start to employ new technologies, materials and methods in art practice. Discourse in art changed: artists shift to researchers or workers; intuitive art process shift to rational structuralized experiment following the terminated program; paintings and sculptures shift to objects, multiples and installations often using light as material; an individual artist creation shift to the subject of group work and art groups itself shift to interdisciplinary teams.

Recognizing such activities around the world an umbrella network was established in Zagreb, that presented pluralistic scene of such art practices. The Gallery of Contemporary Art organized five New Tendencies [NT] exhibitions in Zagreb from 1961 to 1973; in addition, large-scale international exhibitions were held in Paris, Venice and Leverkusen, West Germany. The movement was truly international, both transgressing Cold War blocs and including South American and, later, Asian artists. That situation, unique within the Cold War context, was possible due to Zagreb’s position in then-socialist but non-aligned Yugoslavia.

With their exhibitions and conferences on the theme of computers and visual research and the launch of the multilingual, groundbreaking magazine bit international in 1968, the New Tendencies transformed Zagreb, already one of the most vibrant artistic centers in Yugoslavia, into an international meeting place where artists, engineers, and scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain gathered around the then-new technology.




Computer and Visual Research - Ways of Thinking and Scope of Acting

An essay by Matko Meštrović from his book Dispersion of Meaning - The Fading Out of the Doctrinaire World? (Cambridge Scholars Publishing):

In his letter addressed to the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art, in June last year, Frieder Nake asked a curious question: How did it happen that Zagreb for a few years became a very important place for this kind of art and visual research … (Frieder Nake, June 16, 2003).
When I recently received a copy of his letter I was quite embarrassed: How a man who visited that city for several times and regularly participated in activity of its museum from 1968 to 1973 could ask such a question? But trying to react, I found myself uncertain of what really was happening there in those five years.

New Meštrović's book published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing

After having published his book Dispersion of Meaning - The Fading Out of the Doctrinaire World? (2008), the same publisher CSP - Cambridge Scholars Publishing has just published a collection of nine inter-linked essays by Matko Meštrović under the title Towards a New Orientation. A Croatian version of the book, Prema novom usmjerenju, was published by Zagreb publisher Antibarbarus.

A Little-Known Story about a Movement, a Magazine, and the Computer’s Arrival in Art

New Tendencies and Bit International, 1961–1973

published by ZKM / Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and The MIT Press, documents a short but intense artistic experiment which took place in Zagreb fifty years ago, but whose impact has been felt far beyond that time and place.

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Fall into Zagreb

From unmissable concerts to jazz and art happenings, film festivals, and events for the littles ones, see what early autumn in Zagreb has to offer in the link below.

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Rebecca Duran's Take on Modern Day Life in Pazin (Istria)

Croatia is a small, charming country known today as a prime European tourist destination. However, it has a complicated often turbulent history and is seemingly always destined to be at the crossroads of empires, religions and worldviews, with its current identity and culture incorporating elements from its former Communist, Slavic, Austrian-Hungarian, Catholic, Mediterranean, and European traditions.

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Review of Dubravka Ugrešić's Age of Skin

Dubravka Ugrešić is one of the most internationally recognizable writers from Croatia, but she has a contentious relationship with her home country, having gone into self-exile in the early 90s. Her recently translated collection of essays, The Age of Skin, touches on topics of of exile and displacement, among others. Read a review of Ugrešić’s latest work of non-fiction, expertly translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, in the link below .

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Vlaho Bukovac Exhibition in Zagreb Will Run Through May

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) is arguably Croatia's most renowned painter. Born in the south in Cavtat, he spent some of his most impressionable teenage years in New York with his uncle and his first career was as a sailor, but he soon gave that up due to injury. He went on to receive an education in the fine arts in Paris and began his artistic career there. He lived at various times in New York, San Francisco, Peru, Paris, Cavtat, Zagreb and Prague. His painting style could be classified as Impressionism which incorporated various techniques such as pointilism.

An exhibition dedicated to the works of Vlaho Bukovac will be running in Klovićevi dvori Gallery in Gornji Grad, Zagreb through May 22nd, 2022.

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Review of Neva Lukić's Endless Endings

Read a review of Neva Lukić's collection of short stories, Endless Endings, recently translated into English, in World Literature Today.

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A Guide to Zagreb's Street Art

Zagreb has its fair share of graffiti, often startling passersby when it pops up on say a crumbling fortress wall in the historical center of the city. Along with some well-known street murals are the legendary street artists themselves. Check out the article below for a definitive guide to Zagreb's best street art.

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Beloved Croatian Children's Show Professor Balthazar Now Available in English on YouTube

The colorful, eclectic and much beloved Croatian children's cartoon Professor Balthazar was created by Zlatko Grgić and produced from the late 1960s through the 1970s. Now newer generations will be able to enjoy the Professor's magic, whether they speak Croatian or English.

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New Book on Croatian Football Legend Robert Prosinečki

Robert Prosinečki's long and fabled football career includes winning third place in the 1998 World Cup as part of the Croatian national team, stints in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona as well as managerial roles for the Croatian national team, Red Star Belgrade, the Azerbaijani national team and the Bosnian Hercegovinian national team.

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Sandorf Publishing House Launches American Branch

Croatian publishing house Sandorf launched their American branch called Sandorf Passage earlier this year.

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Jonathan Bousfield on the Seedy Side of the Seaside

From strange tales of mysterious murders to suspected criminals hiding out to scams, duels and gambling, Opatija, a favourite seaside escape for Central Europeans at the turn of the last century, routinely filled Austrian headlines and the public's imagination in the early 20th century.

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Review of new English translation of Grigor Vitez's AntonTon

Hailed as the father of 20th century Croatian children's literature, Grigor Vitez (1911-1966) is well known and loved in his homeland. With a new English translation of one of his classic tales AntonTon (AntunTun in Croatian), children around the world can now experience the author's delightful depiction of the strong-minded and silly AntonTon. The Grigor Vitez Award is an annual prize given to the best Croatian children's book of the year.

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The Best of New Eastern European Literature

Have an overabundance of free time, thanks to the pandemic and lockdowns? Yearning to travel but unable to do so safely? Discover the rhythm of life and thought in multiple Eastern European countries through exciting new literature translated into English. From war-torn Ukraine to tales from Gulag inmates to the search for identity by Eastern Europeans driven away from their home countries because of the economic or political situations but still drawn back to their cultural hearths, this list offers many new worlds to explore.

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More Zagreb Street Art

Explore TimeOut's gallery of fascinating and at times thought-provoking art in the great open air gallery of the streets of Zagreb.

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Welcome to Zagreb's Hangover Museum

Partied too hard last night? Drop by Zagreb's Hangover Museum to feel more normal. People share their craziest hangover stories and visitors can even try on beer goggles to experience how the world looks like through drunken eyes.

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Jonathan Bousfield on the Future as Imagined in 1960s Socialist Yugoslavia

How will the futuristic world of 2060 look? How far will technology have advanced, and how will those advancements affect how we live our everyday lives? These are the questions the Zagreb-based magazine Globus asked in a series of articles in 1960, when conceptualizing what advancements society would make 40 years in the future, the then far-off year of 2000. The articles used fantastical predictions about the future to highlight the technological advancements already made by the then socialist Yugoslavia. Take a trip with guide, Jonathan Bousfield, back to the future as envisioned by journalists in 1960s Yugoslavia.

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Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

What’s the best way for an open-minded foreigner to get straight to the heart of another culture and get a feel for what makes people tick? Don’t just sample the local food and drink and see the major sights, perk up your ears and listen. There’s nothing that gives away the local flavor of a culture more than the common phrases people use, especially ones that have no direct translation.

Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

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Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

Just got out of a serious relationship and don't know what to do with all those keepsakes and mementos of your former loved one? The very popular and probably most unique museum in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to preserving keepsakes alongside the diverse stories of relationships gone wrong, will gladly take them. Find out how the museum got started and take an in-depth look at some of its quirkiest pieces in the link below.

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Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s relaxed, charming and pedestrian-friendly capital. Check out Time Out’s definitive Zagreb guide for a diverse set of options of what to explore in the city from unusual museums to legendary flea markets and everything in between.

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Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in Split, the heart and soul of the city. Because of the palace, Split’s city center can be described as a living museum and it draws in the thousands of tourists that visit the city annually. But how much do we really know about the palace’s namesake who built it, the last ruler of a receding empire? Jonathan Bousfield contends that history only gives us a partial answer.

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The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

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You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

Dolac, the main city market, is a Zagreb institution. Selling all the fresh ingredients you need to whip up a fabulous dinner, from fruits and vegetables to fish, meat and homemade cheese and sausages, the sellers come from all over Croatia. Positioned right above the main square, the colorful market is a beacon of a simpler way of life and is just as bustling as it was a century ago.

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Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

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Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.

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Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.

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Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.

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Zagreb's Street Art

So you're visiting Zagreb and are curious about it's underground art scene? Check out this guide to Zagreb's street art and explore all the best graffiti artists' work for yourself on your next walk through the city.

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Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

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