A City of Beauty Inspires Creative Art: Meet Dubrovnik's Painters

Beauty inspires art, and the magic of Dubrovnik has been captured over the years by various local and visiting enthusiasts. Colour, personality, and vibrancy – the painters of Dubrovnik truly do represent a feeling of the city itself.

These days, of course, that art is played out in the digital age, and Dubrovnik is one of the most Instagrammable destinations on the planet, from where millions of images are uploaded to the web each year.This is a new phenomenon, and as one would expect for a city of culture, tradition and exceptional beauty, it has had its fair share of influential painters over the years. You can catch up with some of their work at the various art galleries in the city, of which more later.

Best known is Vlaho Bukovac, who was born in 1855 in nearby Cavtat in 1855 and had a very international life before his death in Prague in 1922. Bukovac followed his own impulses when it came to style, and he changed course often. At one stage he was influenced by Impressionism, ending his career with the pointillist technique. He was also a very successful pedagogue. Arguably his most famous work, Une Fleur (A Flower), in 1887. It sold at an auction in London in 2006 under the title, Reclining Nude, for over £100,000.00.

Born just two years later, Mate Celestin Medović is one of Croatia's early modern painters. He studied to be a priest at Dubrovnik's Franciscan Seminary, taking the name Celestin when he was ordained in 1874. He is best known for his large paintings depicting seascapes, historical scenes, and landscapes of his native Dalmatia. Medović traveled widely and spent time in Italy, Munich (where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts) and Zagreb among others, before dying in Sarajevo in 1920. His most notable work was 'Dolazak Hrvata' (The Arrival of the Croats). You can catch exhibitions of his work in the Modern Gallery in Zagreb, Gallery of Fine Arts in Split, and Dubrovnik's Museum of Modern Art.

Following the lead of painters such as Bukovac and Medović, Dubrovnik developed its own special direction for Croatian painting, known as the Dubrovnik Colourist School of Painting, or dubrovački koloristi or šarena škola in Croatian. This movement was spearheaded by three painters, whose names today are on one of Dubrovnik's most interesting galleries: the Dulčić-Masle-Pulitika Gallery.

Ivo Dulčić was born in Dubrovnik in 1916 and died in Zagreb in 1975. He is known for his vibrant use of color and his love of motifs of his native city. Antun Masle was born in Orašac (where Sun Gardens Dubrovnik is located) in 1919 and died in Dubrovnik in 1967. A complex and creative personality, his work focused on observations of the environment in which he lived and worked, colorfully bringing out the natural Dalmatian way of life. Djuro Pulitika was born near Dubrovnik in 1922, dying in the city in 2006. His work has been exhibited throughout the world. Other well-known Dubrovnik artists to look out for from this genre include Josip Škerlj, Lukša Peko and Josip Pino Trostmann. But where to see all this fabulous art?

Dubrovnik is blessed with a number of art galleries to do justice to the quality of work of its painters, and art enthusiasts will have lots of fun wandering through the old town learning more about the art traditions of the city.

The famous colorist trio is well-represented at the gallery which bears their name, the Dulčić-Masle-Pulitika Gallery. You can also visit the Pulitika studio to get a glimpse inside the artist's lifestyle. Also not to be missed is the Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik. Founded in 1945, the museum moved to its current home in 1948. The permanent collection features many works by Vlaho Bukovac alongside other contemporary art exhibitions. The institution is currently having a new Renaissance offering more art happenings, workshops, and exhibitions.

Photo credit: Museum of Art Dubrovnik Archive / Umjetnička galerija Dubrovnik

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