Designers & Creators Directory

Bogdan Bogdanović

(BOG-dahn bog-DAHN-ah-vich)

Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

Heritage: Serbian

Date born: August 20th, 1922

Date deceased: June 18th, 2010

Education: Univ. of Belgrade (grad. 1950)

(Богдан Богдановић)

Biography

Bogdan Bogdanović was an acclaimed designer, teacher, writer, urbanist and architect who is renowned for the dozens of anti-fascist sculptural monuments and commemorative works that he created across the the Yugoslav region from the 1950s to the late 1980s. He is considered one of the greatest Serbian architects of the 20th century, having made deep impressions on the artistic and architectural legacy of Yugoslavia. Raised in a progressive household by parents who were writers and intellectuals, Bogdanović was exposed to socially conscious art and activism at an early age, especially as his father, Milan, was director of the National Theatre of Serbia. As WWII came to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the form of the People's Liberation Struggle, Bogdanović joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and enlisted as a Partisan soldier. While serving, he was seriously wounded while fighting in Bosnia, but he soon recovered.

After the war, Bogdanović studied architecture at the University of Belgrade where he later went on to teach and act as dean of the Faculty of Architecture. Two years after graduating in 1952, he won a commission put forward by Belgrade's Jewish community to create a memorial for thier local cemetery dedicated to the fallen victims and fighters of WWII. This was Bogdanović's first major commission and first attempt at memorial architecture. Bogdanović was granted immense liberty in divising this work, a latitude with which he created what some consider to be the first "modernist" monument in Yugoslavia, composed of stone blocks in a wing-like formation. However, after completing this ambitiously designed monument fo the Jewish Cemetery, he was surprised that the subsequent commisions were not immediately forthcoming. Two years later in 1954, he won a seemingly mundane commission to create some worker housing units for the Jaroslav Černi Institute in Belgrade. However, despite the conventional nature of this project, he used it to create a truly unique planned housing complex.

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Photo 1: A vintage photo of the worker housing complex for the Jaroslav Černi Institute

Then, six years later in 1960, he had his biggest professional break in his career by winning the commission to create the WWII memorial park at Sremska Mitrovica. This innovative and creative solution of forming a commemorative space of various gardens, fields, mounds, sculptures and pathways won Bogdanović much accolade and firmly cemented him with a reputation as being a pioneering architect.

As a consequence, over the next four decades, Bogdanović was commissioned to design over 20 commemorative memorial complexes across Yugoslavia honoring WWII Partisan victories and Axis atrocities. Many of these monuments stand not only as some of Bogdanović's most memorable and recognized works, but were also some of the most significant and celebrated monumental sculptures in all Yugoslavia. In his monumental work, he steered away from employing either traditionalist or modernist aesthetics, and instead opted to utilize ancient symbols and motifs from ancient and neolithic cultures. This gave his work a sense of timelessness and connection to the past while still being firmly rooted in the present. While spending decades committed to memorial architecture, Bogdanović also was firmly dedicated to exploring the topic of urbanism in Yugoslavia, going on to write several books and dozens of essays of the topic. As art historian Vladimir Kulić writes in his 2016 paper "Bogdan Bogdanović and the Search for a Meaningful City":

"Far more than merely a pragmatic instrument for inhabiting physical space, he saw the city as an instrument of intellection, a lens through which the world is viewed and conceived, a model of the cosmos."

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Photo 2: A vintage 1980 photo from Bogdanović's Village School in Mali Popović. Credit: ArchitekturzentrumWien

In addition, Bogdanović was keen on reaching out to students and young architects with his unique and revolutionary approach to architecture, art, design and urban planning. For example, for 15 years he ran what could be described as a "counter-culture" summer program for students (starting in 1976) called the "Village School for the Philosophy of Architecture", which he ran out of a small old schoolhouse in the the small rural Šumadija settlement of Mali Popović, Serbia. Bogdanović's teaching approach here was quite unorthodox compared to his contemporaries. Instead of acting as a "professor" or "tutor", he facilitated his role more as a "catalyst of knowledge", operating more as "an unlikely hybrid of an urban design workshop, an art performance, and group therapy", as one source describes it. His curriculum described in the following terms by this CZKD article (translated here into English):

"Bogdan Bogdanovic's radical approach was even more pronounced here in the Village School, where the group gathered on weekends during the summer semester and created a fictitious civilization through myths as the basis for the creation of a city. Perhaps seemingly harmless, this creative play radically emphasized the unbroken link between culture and the built environment and the city as a cultural phenomenon."

Bogdanović was so well respected across Serbia, he was elected to serve as the mayor of Belgrade in 1982, a position which he held until 1986. However, after the fall of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Bogdanović found the nationalistic direction that Serbia was taking distasteful, even going as far as openly criticizing Slobodan Milošević, which resulted in the artist receiving death threats and being the target of political smear campaigns by Serbian state media. As a result, Bogdanović went into self-imposed exile to Paris in 1993, then later relocating to Vienna. During this post-Yugoslav era, many of the spomenik complexes Bogdanović created fell into disrepair and destruction, which devastated him greatly. After the fall of Milošević, he returned briefly to Belgrade, but soon left the city again, criticizing it for becoming "overwhelming, scary, cruel and mono-national". He lived in Vienna for the rest of his days, where he passeed away in 2010. After his death, his remains were transfered back to Belgrade. Before passing, he declined offers by the city to be interred at Belgrade's "Alley of Distinguished Citizens" at the New Cemetery. Instead, he was given permission by Belgrade Jewish community to have his remains interred just across the street from the New Cemetery at the Jewish Cemetery at the base of the first monument which he built there in 1952. When Bogdanović's wife Ksenija passed as well in 2017, she was interred in the same spot next to him.

Works by this Designer:

This is a listing of a number of memorials, monuments, cultural centers and other notable Yugoslav-era civic works by Bogdan Bogdanović. Those sites listed in the upper part of this section have profile pages, while those listed in the lower part do not yet have completed profile pages. This list also includes non-Yugoslav projects that Bogdanović created, as well as his unrealized works for which models only exist for. This list is not exhaustive and will be added to over time.

Yugoslav Works with profile pages:

Click photos to go to page

Bihać, BiH

Name: Garavice Memorial Park

Year: completed 1981

Kruševac, SRB

Name: Slobodište Memorial Complex

Year: completed 1965

Novi Travnik, BiH

Name: The Smrike Necropolis

Year: completed 1975

Štip, MK

Name: The Partisan's Necropolis

Year: completed 1974

Bela Crkva, SRB

Name: Monument to the Start of the Uprising

Year: completed 1971

Vlasotince, SRB

Name: Mon. to the Revolutionary Struggle

Year: completed 1975

Klis, HR

Klis, Croatia, Bogdan Bogdanović, 1987-2

Name: Guardian of Freedom Monument

Year: completed 1987, expunged 1996

Čačak, SRB

Name: Mausoleum of Struggle & Victory

Year: completed 1980

Mitrovica, RKS

Name: Monument to Fallen Miners

Year: completed 1973

Popina, SRB

Name: Popina Memorial Park

Year: completed 1981

Vukovar, HR

Name: Dudik Memorial Park

Year: completed 1980

Leskovac, SRB

Name: Monument to the Revolution

Year: completed 1971

Leskovac, SRB

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Name: Arapova Dolina Memorial

Year: completed 1973

Belgrade, SRB

Jewish Cemetery4.jpg

Name: Mon. to WWII Jewish Fighters & Victims

Year: completed 1952

Jasenovac, HR

Name: The Flower Monument

Year: completed 1966

Mostar, BiH

Name: Partisan Memorial Cemetery

Year: completed 1965

Prilep, MK

Name: Burial Mound of the Unbeaten

Year: completed 1961

Berane, ME

Name: Jasikovac Hill Monument

Year: completed 1977

Sremska Mitrovica, SRB

Name: Memorial Necropolis

Year: completed 1960

Avala, SRB

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Name: Housing for 'Jaroslav Černi' Institute

Year: completed 1954

Belgrade, SRB

800px-Ulaz_u_Aleju_streljanih_rodoljuba,

Name: Alley of Shot Patriots at New Cemetery

Year: completed 1959, w/ Svetislav Ličina

Yugoslav Works without profile pages:

Knjaževac, SRB

Knjaževac.jpg

Name: Mon. to History of the Freedom Fight

Year: completed 1971

Location: N43°33'59.5", E22°15'14.5"

Aranđelovac, SRB

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Name: Tomb of Dušan Petrović Šane

Year: completed 1980

Location: N44°17'17.5", E20°36'05.1"

Mali Popović, SRB

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Name: Mural at old Village School

Year: completed somewhere btwn 1976-1990

Location: exact location not known

Labin, HR

Labin2.jpg

Name: Altar of Adonis at Dubrova Sculp. Park

Year: completed 1974

Location: N45°06'55.7", E14°06'59.7"

Unrealized Memorial Projects

This section contains a listing of design proposals for various memorial projects that were submitted to competitions for consideration, but were ultimately NOT the final proposals chosen by the selection juries for the memorial projects they were submitted for. Below each photo is detailed the monument project it was submitted for, as well as the year it was submitted in.

Belgrade, SRB

Jajinci.jpg

Name: Concept for Jajinci Memorial Park

Year: proposed 1978, w/ D. Pavolić & others

Belgrade, SRB

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Name: Redevelopment of Marx & Engels Sq.

Year: proposed 1976

Mitrovica, RKS

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Name: Concept for Mon. to Fallen Miners

Year: proposed 1960s

Vienna, Austria

Study for Monument of Peace on Danube Is

Name: Concept for Mon. to Peace on Danube Is.

Year: proposed 1994

Niš, SRB

Nis old999999999 (bogdan entry).jpg

Name: Concept for Bubanj Memorial Park

Year: proposed 1961