Designers & Creators Directory
Birthplace: Opatija, Croatia
Date born: July 3rd, 1927
Date deceased: January 26th, 2008
Education: Academy of Fine Arts & Design, Ljubljana (graduated 1951)
Born in western Croatia in 1927, Slovene sculptor Janez Lenassi began his artistic academic career attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana, studying under notable professors Peter Loboda and Frančišek Smerdu. After graduating in 1956, he began teaching art at various grade schools while developing his personal artistic style. Initially in Lenassi's artistic career, he practiced traditional figurative sculpture, largely influenced by famous Slovene sculptor Boris Kalin, however, he soon began to dabble in more experimental forms of sculptural expression. In 1959, he was one of the handful of select participants for the world's first sculpture symposium that was convened at St. Margarethen in Austria, where he created an abstract work titled "Meditative Stone" (Photo 1). Inspired by the success of this symposium, Lenassi went on to establish (with his artistic colleague Jakob Savinšek), Yugoslavia's first international sculpture symposium called "Forma Viva" (you can read a history of Yugoslavia's sculpture symposia in THIS article). Lenassi's founding of Forma Viva inspired nearly a dozen additional sculpture symposia to be founded across Yugoslavia.
Photo 1: "Meditative Stone" at St. Margarethen
In addition to founding Forma Viva, Lenassi went on to participate in sculpture symposia around the world, even participating in the first international sculpture symposium on the East Coast of America, which was a road art beautification project along the US Interstate System of Vermont called “Sculpture on the Highway” (organized by American sculptor Paul Aschenbach. Lenassi's work at that point began to focus on creating a geometric 'symbiosis of sculpture', where the abstractness of the work would seamlessly integrate itself into the natural landscape around it. Furthermore, Lenassi was interested in allowing the attributes of each material he worked with (be it clay, wood, stone, concrete or metal) to subtly express their inherent qualities through the way in which he shaped them. In a 2008 article for the Gorenjski Muzej about the life and sculptural work of Lenassi written by art historian Damir Globočnik, the following remarks are made about his artistic style:
"One of the central creative starting-points for Janez Lenassi became his dialogue with nature and its eternal laws. The stone sculptures always reveal the seal of their origin. Lenassi's sculptural interventions were supporting the richess of natural forms, the surface texture of stone, its colouring, its structure, its toughness, its grain-like quality. The dismembering of the outer surface of a stone block reveals its inner structure. The sculptures express the sensitive and primeval attitude towards the noble sculpture material. The wholeness of the stone block is as a rule preserved, at times Lenassi merely partially marked it by his creative will power. The boundaries between the unworked stone and the intentional sculptural intervention are blurred. It appears as though the sculptor, with seemingly petty interventions in the stone block, attempted to correct the nature's creation."
Through his work in various synposiums around the world, Lenassi began to receive invitations in the early 1960s to participate in various monument project competitions across Yugoslavia. In the many works that Lenassi took part in creating, it was the commission to create a monument honoring overseas fighters in Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia [profile page] for which he is most remembered and recognized as among the premiere sculptors of Slovenia.
In 1966, he was bestowed with the Prešeren Award, Slovenia's highest honor for lifetime achievement in arts and culture. Along with sculpting, Lenassi also was an accomplished stage designer, creating the set production for over 26 theatre, dance and film performances across Slovenia. Over his life, Lenassi created hundreds of sculptures, put on hundreds of exhibitions and received dozens of awards and recognition. Later in his life, he collaborated with his son, Aleš, on various artistic projects. He spent the last decades of his life living in Piran, where he passed away in 2008 at the age of 81. Lenassi continued sculpting new works until the very last months of his life.
Works by this Designer:
This is a listing of a number of memorials, monuments, cultural centers and other notable Yugoslav-era civic works by Janez Lenassi. 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 is not exhaustive and will be added to over time.
Yugoslav Works with profile pages:
Click photos to go to page
Ilirska Bistrica, SLO
Name: Monument on Freedom Hill
Year: completed 1965, with Živa Baraga-Moškon
Name: Monument to the Fallen on Roja Hill
Year: completed 1965
Name: Monument to Partisan Mariners
Year: completed 1977
Yugoslav Works without profile pages:
Nova Gorica, SLO
Name: Monument to Airman Edvard Rusjan
Year: completed 1960
Location: N45°57'22.3", E13°38'48.2"
Name: Mon. to the People's Liberation Struggle
Year: completed 1973
Location: N46°24'26.0", E16°09'02.8"
Name: Monument to Ivan Mlinar
Year: completed 1979
Location: N45°55'02.8", E14°16'25.6"
Name: Monument to WWII Rail Workers
Year: completed 1962
Location: N46°17'42.6", E13°52'29.6"
Vanga Island, HR
Name: Memorial Fountain dedicated to Tito
Year: completed 1980
Location: N44°54'40.7", E13°43'38.9"
Name: Monument to Combatants & Hostages
Year: completed 1980
Location: N45°54'52.8", E14°13'44.7"
Name: Monument to the Victims of the NOB
Year: completed 1963
Location: N46°07'32.5", E13°58'58.0"
Name: 'South Wind' at Dubrova Sculpture Park
Year: completed 1972
Location: N45°06'51.9", E14°06'47.8"
International Works without profile pages:
Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Name: Untitled work at Desert Sculpture Park
Year: completed 1962
Location: N30°36'52.6", E34°48'21.1"
Name: 'Meeting' at Donau Park
Year: completed 1959
Location: N48°14'22.7", E16°25'00.9"
Putney, Vermont, USA
Name: 'Untitled' at 'Sculpture on the Highway'
Year: completed 1968
Location: N43°00'56.2", W72°28'18.9"
Name: 'Expectation' at St. Gothard Sculpture Park
Year: completed 1966
Location: N50°21'59.9", E15°38'37.4"
Name: 'Together' at the Bürgerhaus
Year: completed 1989
Location: N09°05'35.5", E08°16'24.1"
St. Margarethen, Austria
Name: 'Meditative Stone' at Bilderhauerhaus
Year: completed 1959
Location: N47°48'18.9", E16°37'52.9"
Name: 'Nature and Time'
Year: completed 1976
Location: N35°39'35.3", E139°20'01.7"
Name: 'United' at 'Formen für Europa'
Year: completed 1991
Location: 52°54'25.2", E8°49'22.9"
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.
Name: concept for Monument to the Revolution
Year: proposed 1962
Selected Sources and More Information:
-German Wiki article: "Janez Lenassi"
-Slovenian Wiki article: "Janez Lenassi"
-MGML article: "Janez Lenassi(1927-2008): Sculptures"
-Aleš Lenassi book: "Janez Lenassi :: MONOGRAFIJA"
-RTV Slovenija article: "Umrl je kipar Janez Lenassi"
-Gorenjski Muzej article: "Janez Lenassi: Monumentalna skulptura"