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Joze Plecnik

[portrait] In the eighties the work of the architect Joze Plecnik (Jo"ze Ple"cnik, see character set) (a disciple of Otto Wagner) became a true discovery for Europe and the world. Besides the extraordinary high quality of his work Plecnik has also been attributed abroad with a high degree of originality and innovation in the use of historical, regional and even local features, rounding each in new authentic collection containing a multitude of items, from fine details, monuments and architectural motifs to large urban features.

Few cities have had the personal seal of a single artist so strongly impressed as Ljubljana, the birthplace of the architect Joze Plecnik (1872-1957). Over three and half decades, he transformed the former provincial town into the capital of the Slovenian nation. He tried with monumentality and beauty to instill a sense of selfconfidence in the inhabitants.

From the mid-twenties onwards, one after another, the architect arranged a number of parks and squares in the town. Just as in Prague, the city of Ljubljana was subjected to town planning, characterized by high obelisks, pillars and pyramids. Wide stairways were installed, large areas paved and the existing monocultural wild chestnut was systematically changed for more varied vegetation.

His style was very much influenced by his trips to Rome and Paris as a student where he had admired the ancient Classical and Renaissance Masters. He developed his own very special language using simplified manneristic and classical elements which were no longer tied to the plain fulfillment of a function but to the expression of an ideal.

The monuments he realized are only a modest contribution to his vision of great Ljubljana; St Michael's Church on the Marsh (Barje) (1936-39), the National and University Library (1936-40), the Church of St Francis in "Si"ska (1925-30), Ljubljana Stadium (1925-37), the school in Upper "Si"ska (1927-29), Mutual Insurance Building (1929-30), the Cemetery (1939-40), and the Market (1939-42). Of his urban plans, stress should be laid on the design of the junction of Vegova Road with Congress Square (1929-1931), the banks of the Ljubljanica and Grada"s"cica rivers with their bridges (1930-1939), the famous Three Bridges (around 1930), the Shoemaker's Bridge, the Tivoli Park, the surroundings of the Church of St Jernej in "Si"ska (1936) and the castle entrenchments. Among the most prominent commissions of his later period is the restoration of Kri"zanke Monastery (1954-56).

Plecnik's house, preserving its ambient and the artefacts which he used during his life, as well as an important archive is today a part of the Architectural Museum of Ljubljana, while Fu"zine Castle, the seat of the Architectural Museum, houses Plecnik's Paris Exhibition.

After thorough preparation carried out by a team of experts (Boris Podrecca, François Burkhardt, Damjan Prelov"sek and Lojze Gosti"sa) and two institutions: the Georges Pompidou National Cultural Centre from Paris and Ljubljana Museum of Architecture, a large retrospective exhibition on Joze Plecnik opened in 1986. The Paris exhibition subsequently saw extraordinary success in Ljubljana, too. In a truncated form it then moved to Madrid, Vienna, Munich, Karlsruhe, Milan, Venice, New York and Washington. Joze Plecnik become a top cultural theme chiefly among professional circles. Within the USA he is the only Slovenian artist to experience world promotion of such an impact. The Georges Pompidou Centre decided to bestow its contribution of Plecnik's exhibition to Ljubljana. To mark the following significant anniversaries: the 120th anniversary of Plecnik's birth, the 35th anniversary of his death and the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Architectural Museum a permanent exhibition comprising most of the works of Plecnik's Paris exhibition was opened to the public in a renovated wing of the classical early Renaissance Fu"zine Castle on the banks of the river Ljubljanica in Ljubljana.


St. Michael's Church

Plecnik's creativity is evident in this wooden church where, in spite of a very limited budget, he managed to recreate a peaceful and informal environment. Many revolutionary solutions were tried here to help reducing costs.

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