For you, the drawing is what the pattern is to the tailor: if the pattern is no good, all the work done later will come to nothing.
-Croatian artist Vlaho Bukovac, who played an instrumental role in Zagreb's art scene in the late 1800s
After spending three weeks in the pristinely-preserved walled cities of Dubrovnik and Split, coming to Zagreb was quite the change of pace (see previous post). Most notably, my mom and I arrived in time for the opening of the holiday markets, and having dominated European holiday markets last year, Zagreb was clearly anxious to outdo itself this year. Apart from drinking spiced wine and eating hot trdelník, it was exciting to explore this gorgeous old city rich with beautiful architecture, a ginormous farmer's market, interesting museums, and a nascent cycling scene.
Zagreb's bike situation seems to be gaining traction (excuse the pun). Protected bike lanes were sporadic, essentially being narrow strips deducted from pedestrian-heavy sidewalks. The city does seem to be riding in the right direction, though, with a bike share program (currently in hibernation) and plans to add hundreds more kilometers of bike paths. The city is relatively flat for biking and cars seem respectful to bike/ped traffic. Side note: The narrow trams running through town are not only popular but pretty darn cute.
Ah, a museum I can really get behind. This "global crowd-sourced project" started in Zagreb and boasts mementos from broken hearts all over the world. While reading the stories behind the objects made me feel less alone in the world of broken relationships, I must admit that I enjoyed the gift shop much more than any of the men I've dated. Combined. Fun fact: Dogs are allowed in the museum.
In my humble opinion, Zagreb's Art Pavilion is hands-down the city's most beautiful and iconic building. Built in 1898 at the suggestion of Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac (author of above quote), it is designed to hold large scale exhibitions. Its prefabricated iron frame was first erected in Budapest for Hungary's “festivity of the millenium” and then transported in pieces and rebuilt in Zagreb. The gardens outside of the Art Pavilion are equally splendid, even more so in warmer months. The inside of the building appears to have retained all of its amazing, original details, although the main gallery was too dark to see. Fun fact: Check out the Art Pavilion via a virtual walk.
What exactly is naive art? In Croatia, this genre of art refers to artists in the 20th century who were "untrained in the ways of art." Simply put, "naive" artists. The works on display in the gallery were whimsical, colorful, and detailed. According to the museum's website, this style demonstrates that "schools of art are in themselves no guarantee of artistic value, because art can be created even without them." Words couldn't ring truer, as I enjoyed this naive art more than the Art Pavilion's exhibition on the formally-trained Alberto Giacometti.