BETA Timeout Croatia

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Croatian Contemporary Culture

Museum of Contemporary Art (MSU)

The MSU has been the guardian of Croatia’s contemporary art heritage ever since its foundation in 1954, but never had the space in which to exhibit its permanent collection until the opening of this angular Igor Franić-designed building in 2009. Located in Novi Zagreb, a planned modern suburb of residential bocks and straight-line highways, the museum is an essential stop-off for anyone who wants to get to grips with the rich history of Croatian modernism. Both the abstract-geometric art of the 1950s, and the new-media and computer-art works of the late ‘60s and early 70s reveal just how ahead-of-its-time much of Croatian art really was. Photographs of performance artist Tom Gotovac running nude through the city centre, pausing occasionally to lie down and kiss the asphalt (I Love Zagreb; 1981) provides the collection with one of its more memorable moments. The subversive strategies that make up the work of Mladen Stilinović, Vlado Martek, Goran Trbuljak and Sanja Iveković provide a startling insight into what artists actually got up to during the days of Yugoslav communism. Pieces by Miroslaw Balka, Katarzyna Kozyra, Carsten Höller and Jan Fabre ensure that the international contemporary scene is well represented. There is a busy programme of one-off exhibitions – blockbuster retrospectives such as Socialism and Modernity and For Active Art – New Tendencies Fifty Years Later (both in 2011) have helped to shed new light on the whole history of art in Central Europe. Films, lectures and workshops help to make the MSU a social centre as well as a museum, and work by local designers is available in the MSU shop.

© Fumie Suzuki/Time Out