Celebrating Workers in Belgrade’s Public Art

As Serbia and Yugoslavia moved towards a more industrial economy in 1930s and 40s the industrial workers, who had a rough time during the capitalist monarchy in Yugoslavia, started being celebrated in its arts.

Although celebration of the life workers was most famously depicted by artists with socialist sensibilities such as Đorđe Andrejević Kun, whose album of prints Bloody Gold, depicted rapacious capitalism, idealised workers were also depicted on government and private buildings in pre-war period to depict progress.

However it was only during the short post-WWII flirtation with socialist realism that they came centre in public imagination, especially due to their double role as successful revolutionaries during the war, as well as motors of new socialist progress. That double role is most obviously shown in front of Voždovac Municipal Assembly building with two masterful works by Sreten Stojanović and Lojze Dolinar called “Struggle” and “Renwal”

The classical depictions of strong and determined workers also popped up in front of their work places, such as Belgrade’s central Fire stations and IMS building

After the 1948 rift with Stalin, Yugoslavia also moved away from his classical sensibilities and started moving more toward abstraction. Classically shaped and shapely workers only survived for a short while on WWII monuments such as the ones at Zemun and Jajinci, or as sportsmen and erotic nudes, only to be morphed back into symbols in 60s and 70s, as the Yugoslavia moved away from celebrating workers to being more about consumers.

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