The architectural sculpture of Ivan Meštrović in relation to Adolf von Hildebrand's The problem of form in the fine arts



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This thesis investigates the relationship between the architectural sculpture of Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović and late nineteenth-century aesthetic theory. Most scholarship on Meštrović emphasizes his Croatian heritage and his ties with the Vienna Secessionists and French sculptor Auguste Rodin. While acknowledging that these were important sources for Meštrović, this thesis also seeks to elucidate his shift in style during the first decade of the twentieth century and his continued commitment to clarity of form in his architectural sculpture.

An in-depth look at Meštrović’s Kosovo Pavilion, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Mount Avala near Belgrade, Serbia, and wood reliefs at the Kaštelet chapel in Split, Croatia in terms of German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand’s 1893 treatise The Problem of Form in the Fine Arts reveals significant parallels between Meštrović’s work and Hildebrand’s ideas. Despite his widespread recognition and critical acclaim during the first half of the twentieth century, Meštrović has faded from discussions of modern art in much of the United States and Europe. This thesis aims to reintroduce Meštrović, offering new possibilities for thinking about his work as it relates to the aesthetic theory that was so important for artists of his time.