Kujtim Buza, Kleanth Dedi, and Dhimitraq Trebicka, “Përmendore të Heroizmit Shqiptar” [1973]

Today’s post is a scan of Kujtim Buza and Kleanth Dedi’s  Përmendore të Heroizmit Shqiptar [Monuments to Albanian Heroism], (Tirana: Shtëpia Qëndrore e Ushtrisë Popullore, 1973), with photographs credited to Dhimitraq Trebicka. This publication presents documentation of monuments constructed in Albania through the early 1970s. Most of the monuments and memorials appearing in the book were constructed during the socialist era, although some (by sculptor Odhise Paskali) date from earlier periods.

Like Mircea Grozdea’s Arta monumentală în România socialistă [1973], Veneta Ivanova’s Българска монументална скулптура: развитие и проблеми [1978), and Juraj Baldani’s Revolucionarno Kiparstvo [1977], Përmendore të Heroizmit Shqiptar represents a socialist nation’s viewpoint on the history and development of its own monumentality. Published in 1973, the book comes precisely at the historical moment when socialist Albania turned decidedly against ‘foreign influences’ in art and culture (after a period of openness and in some cases experimentation in the late 1960s, a period during which the country had also aligned itself ideologically with China’s cultural revolution). In the 1960s and 70s in particular, a huge number of monuments were constructed in Albania (in many cases to correspond to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of liberation from fascist forces, in 1969).

The Four Heroines of Mirdita Monument. By Fuat Dushku, Dhimo Gogollari, Andrea Mano, and Perikli Çuli. 1971, Rreshen. [now destroyed].
These memorials included both lapidars, architectural and sometimes sculptural ensembles that were dedicated to the martyrs and heroes of the National Liberation War (the Second World War), as well as traditional figurative sculptures commemorating Skanderbeg, independence from the Ottoman Empire, the War of 1920, and so on. Monuments existing prior to the socialist period, especially those commissioned by the regime of the Albanian interwar leader King Ahmet Zogu, are absent–with the exception of works created by Odhise Paskali, whose messages were considered to be purely nationalist, and therefore ideologically amenable to the project of socialist nation-building in Albania. (The opening text by artist and critic Kujtim Buza and historian Kleanth Dedi discuss the memorial landscape prior to the rise of socialism as a blank slate, primarily attributing the rise of materialized history in Albania to the socialist regime. This is of course inaccurate–several memorials from prior regimes were destroyed by the socialists for ideological reasons.)

Relief from the Lapidar dedicated to the collectivization of land. By H. Beqiri, 1962. In Gore, Lushnja.

*Unfortunately, the version of the book that I scanned was a misprint and included a section of repeated pages. Thus, some images (for example, of the martyr’s cemeteries in Librazhd and Fier) only appear as thumbnails in the back of the book, but not as full-sized photographs. At some point, I will scan these pages from another copy of the book, but for now they are not present.

Comparative Considerations: Veneta Ivanova’s Българска монументална скулптура: развитие и проблеми (1978)

This post continues the series begun with Mircea Grozdea’s Arta monumentală în România socialistă [Monumental Art in Socialist Romania] (1973), providing some comparative perspectives on socialist monumentality in the Balkan region via surveys published during the socialist years. Today the focus is on Bulgaria, with Veneta Ivanova’s Българска монументална скулптура: развитие и проблеми [Bulgarian Monumental Sculpture: Development and Issues] (1978).

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Bulgaria’s vast territory contains some of socialist Eastern Europe’s most striking monuments, many of which are perfect paradigms of what Christina Lodder calls the “restrained modernism” of the Soviet monumental style–a coupling of clearly legible figuration with dynamic Cubist influences that resulted in chiselled and muscular socialist heroes. The book is written in Bulgarian, but contains a summary section in German in its back section. Even for those unable to read the text, however, the images are invaluable evidence of the creative fecundity of artists engaged in monumental projects in Bulgaria. The survey stretches back to monuments created in the country’s ancient past, leaping forward to cover the 19th and 20th centuries in detail and establishing a sweeping narrative of monumental practices.

Happy reading!

Comparative Considerations: Mircea Grozdea’s Arta monumentală în România socialistă (1973)

Today’s blog post is a departure from the typically Albanian-centered content on this blog. The post contains a scan of Mircea Grozdea’s Arta monumentală în România socialistă [Monumental Art in Socialist Romania] (1973), an album documenting trends in socialist Romanian monumental art in a variety of media. Grozdea (also the author of Arta monumentală contemporană (1987)) provides an overview of the developments of monumental art in Romania, including information on the major artists and on the institutional framework for the production of the monuments (the introduction is in Romanian, but an overview in French accompanies it).

Arta cover

Obviously, in the present context (read: with an eye towards comparison with the Albanian context), the album is logically compared with Përmendore të Heroizmit Shqiptar [Memorials of Albanian Heroism], published the same year in the People’s Republic of Albania. Monuments such as Boris Caragea’s Monumentul Vicotriei (1968), Anton Eberwein’s Steag (1972), and Andrei Ostap’s Monumentul Ostașului Român (1958) immediately sugget formal comparisons with monumental works in socialist Albania. However, the broader range of media (including tapestries and mosaics) in Grozdea’s album provides a more sweeping (and diverse) aesthetic assortment than the images collected in volumes like Përmendore të Heroizmit Shqiptar.

Happy reading!