Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog 11, 10000 Zagreb
The present Department of Fine Arts, as well as the Department of Literature and the Department of Music and Musicology, have succeeded the Arts Department, which was founded within the Academy in 1919. The Department of Fine Arts became autonomous in 1953. Currently, in 2021, the Department includes 17 full Academy members, 6 associate members and 5 corresponding members living abroad.
Over the past one hundred years, the members of the Department of Fine Arts have carried out numerous diverse activities that have been recognised either in the activities of the Academy or in personal artistic and scientific work. The members of the Department are active in the management of the Academy, scientific councils, institutes for scientific research and artistic work, committees, thematic working groups, and as individuals and experts within the framework of their scientific, artistic, and professional competences.
Throughout the history of the Academy and in the course of around one century of the Department, many members have – thanks to their artworks – become an inseparable part of the Croatian cultural world of fine arts. These are:
- painters Vlaho Bukovac i Mato Celestin Medović (honorary members), Ljubo Babić, Vladimir Becić, Menci Klement Crnčić, Bela Csikos Sessia, Marijan Detoni, Krsto Hegedušić, Ljubo Ivančić, Nives Kavurić Kurtović, Edo Kovačević, Ferdinand Kulmer, Edo Murtić, Zlatko Prica, Mirko Rački, Nikola Reiser, Frano Šimunović, Miroslav Šutej, Marino Tartaglia, Josip Vaništa i and others;
- sculptors Ivan Meštrović (honorary member), Kosta Angeli Radovani, Antun Augustinčić, Vojin Bakić, Zlatko Bourek, Dušan Džamonja, Robert Frangeš Mihanović, Ivan Kožarić, Fran Kršinić, Vanja Radauš, Rudolf Valdec, Šime Vulas and others;
- architects Miroslav Begović, Drago Galić, Lavoslav Horvat, Ćiril Metod Iveković, Mladen Kauzlarić, Andre Mohorovičić, Boris Magaš, Radovan Nikšić, Martin Pilar, Josip Seissel, Ante Vulin and others;
- art historians Cvito Fisković, Branko Fučić, Anđela Horvat, Ljubo Karaman, Ivo Petricioli, Kruno Prijatelj, Artur Schneider and others.
The foreign corresponding membership includes several world-famous names, such as art historians Einar Dyggve (Denmark) and Udo Kulterman (Germany), architects Kenzo Tange (Japan) and Lord Norman Foster (United Kingdom), and others.
Five members of the Department held the post of Vice-President of the Croatian Academy – Martin Pilar (1924–1934), Marijan Detoni (1972–1975), Andre Mohorovičić (1978–1991), Miroslav Begović (1998–2003), and Velimir Neidhardt (2011–2018). Andre Mohorovičić served as Secretary-General of the Academy (1975–1978). Velimir Neidhardt, Fellow of the Academy, the 18th President of the Academy (since 1st January 2019), is the first Academy President from one of the arts departments.
The Department of Fine Arts monitors and directs the work and the activities of the following Academy museums and galleries: the Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, the Department of Prints and Drawings, the Glyptotheque, and the Croatian Museum of Architecture. The task of the Academy museums and galleries is the collection of museum and archival materials, their professional processing and scientific interpretation, the presentation of material, and the implementation of the exhibition programme. Until the earthquake of 2020, numerous cultural events had been held at the Academy museums and galleries – exhibitions, lectures, book presentations, educational workshops, round tables, scientific and professional meetings, concerts, etc.
The Department further cares for artistic and cultural-historical collections located outside of art museums and outside Zagreb, such as the Memorial Collection of Paintings by Memorial Collection of Paintings by Maximilian Vanka in Korčula and the museum collection Gučetić-Gozze at the Renaissance summer house within the Academy Arboretum in Trsteno.
A scientific research unit in Zagreb – the Cabinet for Architecture and Urban Planning, and its Fine Arts Archives fall under the competence of the Department as well. The Cabinet, founded in 1919, encompasses a planotheque with more than 10,000 sheets of architectural designs, drawings, sketches, and various records, including the designs of the Academy Palace (dated 1877) created by architect Friedrich von Schmidt, professor of architecture at the Academy of Arts in Vienna. The Academy Fine Arts Archives, founded in 1937, collect, preserve, and process materials including artistic bequests, catalogues of exhibitions, a hemerotheque, a photo library, personal documentation of artists, etc. Since 1990, the Archives have been collecting documentaries and archival materials related exclusively to the activities of the Croatian visual artists both in Croatia and abroad.
The members of the Department have been conducting research on the cultural and artistic heritage of Croatia. Most of the research related to theoretical discussions, historical analyses, and field research. The Academy Institute for Scientific Work in Varaždin was founded in 1983 encouraged by the Department of Fine Arts and by Andre Mohorovičić, Fellow of the Croatian Academy, who had been Head of the Institute for 19 years. More recently, the Academy museums and galleries have been carrying out research projects too.
The scope of the Department of Fine Arts moreover encompasses two scientific councils of the Academy – the Scientific Council for Tourism and Space and the Scientific Council for Architecture, Urbanism and Landscaping. The councils aim at pointing out the importance of the Croatian space as a fundamental national good and strategic resource of the entire social and economic/tourist development, as well as to stress the important topics regarding the spatial planning of the State in order to achieve a satisfactory quality level of construction, architecture and urbanism.
Since 1953, the Department of Fine Arts has been publishing a journal, which presently carries the title of Art Bulletin, as well as a special Department edition including scientific research, theoretical discussions, historical analyses, and field research by Department members, with an emphasis on topics covering the field of the history and theory of fine arts, architecture, and urbanism. Academy museums and galleries issue books/monographs of Academy members, edit monographs of artists, and publish editions accompanying the exhibition activity, as well as various other books either published or co-published by the Academy. By 2019, a total of 45 books/monographs and approximately 700 catalogues of exhibitions and other minor publications have been issued by the Academy museums and galleries. The Department furthermore prepares and edits memorials to deceased Fellows of the Academy.
The members of the Department of Fine Arts, in particular architects and art historians, are significantly contributing to the comprehensive Academy projects oriented towards the restoration of architectural heritage – the renovation of the Academy buildings in Zagreb after the earthquake of 2020, and the reconstruction of the Academy Arboretum in Trsteno. Since 2014, two projects funded by the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Ministry of Culture and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, have been implemented at the Arboretum: The Arboretum and the Trsteno Summer House – the Reconstruction and Revitalisation of the 500-year-old country unit, and The Historical Gardens of the Dubrovnik Area. At the beginning of 2021, a multiannual project for the renovation of nine Academy buildings in Zagreb commenced; the European Union Solidarity Fund has approved the necessary funds for the preparation of the project documentation and the implementation of constructive renovation.
The renovation includes a thorough reconstruction and modernisation of museum and gallery premises within the Academy buildings. The construction- and conservation-related renovation of buildings, the architectural and technological modernisation of museum, and the modernisation of galleries and museum holdings have marked the beginning of a new era in the operation and activities not only of the Department of Fine Arts, but also of the Croatian Academy as a whole. In the context of the renovation and modernisation of buildings, the Department of Fine Arts has encouraged the reorganisation of the Academy museums and galleries in such a way that individual museums, galleries and collections are to be joined into the Academy Museums, Galleries and Collections (M-G-Z HAZU) community, with the aim of streamlining, efficiency, and better visibility. This will present a great challenge and obligation for the Department of Fine Arts and for the members thereof in the years to come.