In the Collection we primarily encounter smaller-scale sculptures intended for gallery displaying. The Collection encompasses modern and contemporary art works, from the early 20th century until this day, mainly by Croatia-based authors and created since the 1950s.
The Collection is extremely versatile both in terms of creative approach, and in terms of the notion of authorship, thematic orientations, materials and manufacturing procedures. It encompasses a wide range of artistic strivings and cultural trends, advocating notional and formal plurality, conformisms, innovations and discontinuities characteristic of the 20th century. Even though it spans a longer period of time, due to its heterogeneous and modest size the Collection is recognisable in particular segments and individual works. Some of the works were gathered through acquisitions made after solo exhibitions, while the Museum’s well known events, Salons (1954-1963) and Biennales of Young Yugoslav Artists (1960-1961) contributed to the presence of artists from former Yugoslavia. A prominent place belongs to the works of artists based in Rijeka and Istria that record often disparate interests of different generations. We encounter specific answers to natural and cultural heritage, keeping up with modernist parameters, to the extent of challenging and deliberately leaving the established norms, in which human relationships and broader social and political sphere become the mainstays of art.
The core of the Collection consists of the works created in the 1950s and 1960s, gathered during the first two decades of this institution’s activities. This segment is interesting in a way that it reflects pluralist trends on the current cultural scene, detached from high modernism, constructivism, modalities of abstraction and Art Informel, to existentialist projections, but it also reflects classic academic tendencies of realism and socialist realist canon. The red thread it follows until this day has been the exploration of human figure and body, the construction of identity and relationship between public and private, marginalised and dominant, often interspersed with autobiographical traits. Commonplaces, known from the philosophy of the absurd and existentialism, fears, despairs, anxieties, loneliness and alienated society, albeit in different contexts, have spanned until today. Activity in the expanded field of sculpture which in terms of objects and installations challenges the boundaries of the medium, as well as systems of standardisation and evaluation, is intensely represented in the Collection from the 1980s. In lieu of pedestals, traditional materials and classic problems in sculpture, there are mixed and hybrid media connecting different spectrums of reality, political, economic, environmental, psychological, existential and similar issues. Space becomes a target of interest, not as a visual, formal and constructive element, but as a multi-layered ambience that actively involves the observer, but also challenges the ingrained conventions of museological or art-historical classification. Dominating features are the medium of installation and cross-media genre, equal combination of media and techniques, allowing for a seismographic capture of changes on the social and technological level, as well as perceptual shifts caused by globalisation, informatization, media representation of reality and general acceleration. Innovations in art practices, challenging the passive nature of visual experience and notion of art, at the same time challenge the paradigm of the Museum and its social role. It also requires continuous completion and expansion of the holdings, which remains constrained in an inadequate space and low funds for acquisitions which mainly come from the state budget.
Ksenija Orelj, curator