Designers & Creators Directory

Dušan Džamonja

(DOO-shahn JHA-mohn-yah)

Birthplace: Strumica, Kingdom of Yugoslavia (today North Macedonia)

Heritage: Macedonian/Croatian

Date born: January 31st, 1928

Date deceased: January 14th, 2009

Education: Academy of Fine Arts, Zagreb (graduated 1951)

(Душан Џамоња)

Biography

Artist Dušan Džamonja, born in Strumica, Macedonia in 1928 (then part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), was one of the most influential and visionary sculptural artists during the days of the socialist Yugoslav-era. Having trained at Zagreb's Academy of Fine Arts under Vanja Radauš and Frano Kršinić, Džamonja's, specializing in the work of Antun Augustinčić. While the early work of his career was figurative, by the late 1950s he began to experiment with sculptural approaches of "free spatial construction" that combined the organic and inorganic worlds. Through this method, he would take inorganic materials such as metal, glass, stone or concrete, from which he would sculpt forms that resemble the organic world, while, at the same time, also taking organic materials like wood and crafting them into form-defying inorganic creations.  Furthermore, Džamonja concentrated on combining simple shapes and forms (such as curves, spheres and ovids) into highly complex and inspiring designs. Colleague Jasia Reinchard said of Džamonja's work:

"He developed new ways of using traditional materials; he reconciled the intractability of metal to the fluidity and animation of nature; and, without resorting to narrative, he imbued his architectural monuments with the sensation of human presence…"

In the early 1950s, Džamonja began to be commissioned to create large-scale public spomenik complexes commemorating the events of the People's Liberation Struggle (WWII) across Yugoslavia and in Italy, for which he was recognized with numerous awards and accolades. In the beginning, these memorial works were all figurative in nature, however, in 1959, Džamonja gifted to the city of Zagreb a memorial sculpture created to commemorate the victims who killed during massacres there during WWII -- this small monument he created (unveiled in 1960) is often credit as being one of, if not the, first fully abstract WWII monument created in Yugoslavia. As such, Džamonja is often looked to as the father of this uniquely Yugoslavian commemorative sculptural movement. He went on to create additional monuments in the same style, notably at Podgarić and Kozara, which still to this day stand as being among the most well-known and significant of all the monuments in all the former-Yugoslavia. Džamonja truly saw himself as a creator of monuments and sacred spaces... and in this distinct style of sculptural composition, he fashioned "autonomous structures" that were exalted works of interactive art, an exploration of not only the external but of the internal as well.

In addition to using novel and unconventional materials in his sculptural work, Džamonja also begins to devise new methods of combining these materials. One of the most innovative systems he formulated was soldering together metal pieces such as old chains, pins and nails into unique geometric forms. However, the innovative technique he devised was not simply soldering the pieces together, but actually turning the power up so high on his soldering machine that he over-soldered the metal together to the point where it began to melt and merge into a solid sweeping mass. With this technique, Džamonja was able to fashion arrangements of stunningly sophisticated configurations, almost mathematical in their beauty and complexity (Photos 1 & 2). In addition to using this technique on his exhibition sculptural works, he also employed it on numerous monumental works as well, such as those relief sculptures found at the Mrakovica Museum in Kozara and the Jasenovac Museum.

Photo 1: A vintage Yugoslav-era photo of one of Džamonja's metal soldered sculptures at his sculpture part in Vrsar, HR.

Photo 2: A vintage Yugoslav-era photo of one of Džamonja's metal soldered sculptures at his sculpture part in Vrsar, HR.

Džamonja continued to create such monuments until the 1980s. In addition, he went on to create various forms of sculptural art for museums, galleries and houses of worship well into the 21st century. In the early 2000s, Džamonja submitted a design proposal to the competition for 9/11 Memorial in New York City, but his entry was not chosen for the final design. He later adapted elements from his 9/11 Memorial concept into what would subsequently be the "Wall of Pain" monument he created in 2004 at the famous Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb. In 2009, he passed away at a hospital in Zagreb. He was subsequently interred at Mirogoj within a gravesite that is draped in a soldered-chain relief sculpture that he created himself for the tomb before his passing. In the town of Vrsar, Croatia, there is a large sculpture park and villa on the edge of the Istrian Peninsula overlooking the Adriatic that Džamonja originally used as his personal studio, however, today it is open to the public where you can encounter some of Džamonja's most iconic sculptures.

Works by this Designer:

This is a listing of a number of memorials, monuments, cultural centers and other notable Yugoslav-era civic works by Dušan Džamonja. 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 international projects that Džamonja created, as well his unrealized works for which models only exist. This list is not exhaustive and will be added to over time.

Yugoslav Works with profile pages:

Click photos to go to page

Podgarić, HR

Name: Mon. to Revolution of Moslavine People

Year: completed 1967, w/ Vlad. Veličković

Jasenovac, HR
small1.jpg

Name: Memorial sculptural relief

Year: completed 1968

Kozara, BiH

Name: Monument to the Revolution

Year: completed 1972

Sisak, HR

Name: Monument to Edvard Kardelj

Year: completed 1980

Zagreb, HR

Name: December Victims Monument

Year: completed 1960

Belgrade, SRB

Name: Sun Relief on the Dom Omladine

Year: completed 1967

Zenica, BiH

Name: Sculpture in front of National Theatre

Year: completed 1978

Location: N44°12'05.7", E17°54'19.1"

Yugoslav Works without profile pages:

Virovitica, HR

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1950s

Location: 45°49'46.9"N, 17°22'07.5"E

Mali Lošinj, HR

Name: Mon. to the Liberators of Cres & Lošinj

Year: completed 1955

Location: N44°32'13.5", E14°27'25.4"

Komletinci, HR

Name: Partisan Memorial Cemetery

Year: completed 1976, w/ Zdenko Kolacio

Location: N45°09'01.9", E18°57'20.6"

Sarajevo, BiH

Name: Plaza at Executive Council Building

Year: completed 1982

Location: N43°51'18.9", E18°24'20.8"

Slavonski Brod, HR

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1951, expunged 1995

Location: N45°09'29.6", E18°00'44.7"

Vrsar, HR

Name: Džamonja's Studio & Sculpture Park

Year: initiated in 1965, opened to public in 1981

Location: N45°09'38.1", E13°36'39.9"

Jošan, HR

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1980

Location: N44°34'32.8", E15°44'58.5"

Pazin, HR

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters

Year: completed 1951

Location: 45°14'26.8"N, 13°56'13.4"E

Aranđelovac, SRB

Name: 'Flower' at Bukovička Banja Sculp. Park

Year: completed 1970

Location: N44°18'30.7", E20°33'10.7"

Labin, HR

Name: "92/M" at Dubrova Sculpture Park

Year: completed 1982

Location: N45°06'56.4", E14°07'02.1"

Pirot, SRB

Name: ???

Year: completed ???

Location: N43°09'57.1", E22°35'04.2"

International Works without profile pages:

Barletta, Italy

Name: Memorial Ossuary to Fallen Yugoslavs

Year: completed 1970, w/ Hildegard Auf-Franić

Location: N41°19'38.4", E16°15'16.9"

Brussels, Belgium

Name: Sculpture at World Expo 58

Year: completed 1958

Location: temporary exhibit

Montreal, Canada

Name: Sculpture at World Expo 67

Year: completed 1967

Location: temporary exhibit

Dallas, Texas, USA

Name: 'Cortens' at the Dallas World Trade Center

Year: completed 1978

Location: N32°48'07.4", W96°49'27.5"

Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Name: S.75 AL "America One" at Brown Univ.

Year: completed 1990

Location: N41°49'36.4", W71°23'59.0"

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.

Auschwitz, Poland

Name: Concept for Auschwitz Conc. Camp Mon.

Year: proposed 1958

Belgrade, SRB

Name: Concept for Jajinci Memorial Park

Year: proposed 1958 (1st competition)

Kamenska, HR

Name: Concept for Slavonia Victory Monument

Year: proposed 1962

Gornja Stubica, HR

Name: Concept for Monument to Matija Gubec

Year: proposed 1969

Sisak, HR

Name: Concept for Sisak Iron & Steel Mill

Year: proposed 1975

Dotrščina, HR

Name: Concept for Dotrščina Park memorial

Year: proposed 1980

Mikleuš, HR

Name: Concept for Ernest Telman Monument

Year: proposed 1967

Adaševci, SRB

Name: Concept for Sremski Front Memorial

Year: proposed 1974

Belgrade, SRB

Name: Concept for Jajinci Memorial Park

Year: proposed 1976 (2nd competition)

Dotrščina, HR

Name: Concept Dotrščina Park memorial

Year: proposed 1980

Dachau, Germany

Name: Concept for Mem. Graveyard at Dachau

Year: proposed 1959, w/ Ninoslav Kučan

Dachau, Germany

Name: Concept for Dachau Conc. Camp Mon.

Year: proposed 1965

Prima Porta, Italy

Name: Concept for Prima Porta cemetery

Year: proposed 1974

Dotrščina, HR

Name: Concept for Dotrščina Park memorial

Year: proposed 1980

Zadar, HR

Name: Concept for Monument to Josip Broz Tito

Year: proposed 1982