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15 Inspiring Yugoslav Memorial Concepts that were Never Realized

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

One often forgets that for every fantastic and awe-inspiring monument and memorial complex that was built during the era of the former Yugoslavia that there were a whole multitude of alternative possibilities of how each of those monuments could have appeared. As a result of the "design competition" model employed for the vast majority of memorial projects in Yugoslavia (which sometimes accepted dozens of concept art submissions for any given design contest), a mass trove of unrealized artistic and architectural ideas were created and proposed. However, this large repository of unrealized work (each artistically meaningful in their own right) rarely, if ever, receive attention or appreciation in contemporary times. This article will highlight a few imprssive examples which no doubt will set ones imagination alight wondering what these works could have looked like if they had ever been fully realized.


1.) The Boro & Ramiz Memorial Center, Priština, Kosovo*

Concept art by Lulić & Nosso for the Boro & Ramiz Memorial Center for Priština, Kosovo*. Image credit: 'Arhitektura' journal, #106, 1972

Name: The Boro & Ramiz Memorial Center

Location: Priština, Kosovo*

Author(s): Ljerka Lulić & Jasna Nosso

Year proposed: 1970

Description: In this image we see a concept drawing of the proposal made by the architect team of Ljerka Lulić & Jasna Nosso in 1970 for the Boro and Ramiz Memorial Center which was to be built in the city center of the city of Priština. This stunning idea put forward by Lulić & Nosso is most certainly among the most daring and forward-thinking architectural ideas of the Yugoslavia, as far as pushing the envelope of design and materials. However, the commission for this design ultimately went to Živorad Janković and Halid Muhasilović, which was completed in 1977. Interestingly, the final product geared away from being a traditional 'memorial center' and evolved into a 'memorial sports center' complex. More info HERE.


2.) Monument to the Revolutionary Victory of the People of Slavonia, Kamenska, Croatia

A concept model by Živković for the monument at Kamenska, Croatia. Photo credit: Archive of Miodrag Živković

Name: Monument to the Revolutionary Victory of the People of Slavonia [profile page]

Location: Kamenska, Croatia

Year proposed: 1962

Description: In this image we see a concept model for the proposal submitted by Belgrade sculptor Miodrag Živković in 1962 that was to be considered for the creation of the Monument to the Revolutionary Victory of the People of Slavonia, to be built in the rural village of Kamenska, Croatia. While the commission for this project ultimately was awarded to sculptor Vojin Bakić from Zagreb (which was completed in 1968), Živković ultimately borrowed elements and ideas from this unrealized proposal and employed them for a monument submission he subsequently won and completed the following year for the Monument to Executed Children at Kragujevac, Serbia [profile page].


3.) Sremski Front monument, Adaševci, Serbia

A concept model by Džamonja of the Sremski Front monument in Adaševci, Serbia. Photo credit: Dušan Džamonja archive

Name: Sremski Front Memorial Complex

Location: Adaševci, Serbia

Author(s): Dušan Džamonja

Year proposed: 1974

Description: In this image we see an expansive concept model by forward by sculptor Dušan Džamonja in 1974 for the huge Sremski Front Memorial Complex, which was to be built on the famous Sremski Front WWII battle site near the town of Adaševci, Serbia. This submission by Džamonja actually won the design competition held to choose the monument's design and this design concept was subsequently heavily promoted, being printed in books and even included on certain maps. Džamonja's concept was enormous in scope and was characterized by its sharp geometric form that seemed to burst from the earth. However, for reasons not quite clear, the commission was taken away from Džamonja and eventually awarded instead to Vojvodina sculptor Jovan Soldatović. Not only was Džamonja distressed about this unusual decision, he was even further concerned when he observed that parts of Soldatović's design were borrowed from his design. The case was a heated and contentious on multiple fronts that went on for many years. Soldatović's completed Sremski Front Memorial Complex was finally unveiled in 1988. Info about the complex can be found on THIS profile page for the Srem region.


4.) Monument to the Revolution, Petrova Gora, Croatia

A concept model for the Monument to the Revolution at Petrova Gora, Croatia by Igor Toš. Photo credit: vintage postcard

Name: Monument to the Revolution [profile page]

Location: Petrova Gora, Croatia

Author(s): Igor Toš

Year proposed: 1970

Description: Here we see a vintage postcard depicting a concept model created by young Zagreb architect Igor Toš in 1970 for the proposed Monument to the Revolution which was to be built on the summit of the mountains of Petrova Gora, Croatia. It was this proposal that won the first design competition held in 1970, with proposal by Zagreb sculptor Vojin Bakić coming in 2nd place. The concept by Toš winning the competition explains why promotional materials such as the above postcard were produced. The design by Toš consisted of a corrugated-like spiral staircase of modern architectural styling that would ascend to a lofty viewing point overlooking the whole region. However, the committee heading the creation of the monument subsequently realized that the design by Toš, as well as by Bakić, were too costly to create. As a result, a second design competition was announced for 1974. Defiantly, Toš refused to participate, but Bakić put together a completely new design concept and submitted it, which eventually won this second competition. Tensions rose when accusations that Bakić had lifted elements of Toš's winning design from the first design for his second proposal. Bakić's winning design was eventually built and unveiled in 1981. However, it suffered great devastation in the 1990s during the Yugoslav Wars. More info is at the profile page for the monument at THIS link.


5.) Monument to the Revolution, Kozara, BiH

A concept model by Drago Tršar for the Monument to the Revolution in Kozara, BiH. Photo credit: 'Život umjetnosti' journal, #15/16, 1971

Name: Monument to the Revolution [profile page]

Location: Kozara, BiH

Author(s): Drago Tršar

Year proposed: 1970

Description: In this image we see a concept model created by Slovene sculptor Drago Tršar which was submitted to the design competition for the Monument to the Revolution which was to be built in the Kozara region of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Tršar's ambitious proposal is characterized by a large deeply-grooved central diamond form which would stand over the landscape in an regal and inspiring way. However, despite the virtues of this entry, it was a proposal made by Zagreb sculptor Dušan Džamonja that eventually won the competition. Completed in 1972, more information about the Kozara monument can be found at its profile page at THIS link.


6.) Monument to President Josip Broz Tito, Zadar, Croatia

Concept art by Dušan Džamonja for the Monument to President Josip Broz Tito in Zadar, Croatia. Photo credit: Dušan Džamonja archive

Name: Monument to President Josip Broz Tito

Location: Zadar, Croatia

Author(s): Miodrag Živković [profile page]

Year proposed: 1982

Description: After the death of President Josip Broz Tito in 1980, memorial projects to pay tribute to his life and legacy sprang up all across the Yugoslav region. One such major endeavor on this front manifested in the Adriatic city of Zadar, Croatia in 1982, which was officially to be called "Memorial to Comrade Tito and Zadar’s Centuries-Long Struggle for Freedom". The site of the monument was to be right on the water on Old Town Square. Organized by the city's municipal assembly, instead of an open competition where anyone could apply, the city sent out invitations to an 'all-star' creative cast of eight of some of the most famous monument builders of Yugoslavia: Vojin Bakić, Dušan Džamonja, Šime Vulas, Kosta Angeli Radovani, Zdenko Kolacio, Branko Ružić, Miodrag Živković and finally Bogdan Bogdanović. The only of the group who chose not to submit a proposal was Bogdanović, while curiously, Zadar sculptor Ratko Petrić submitted a proposal even though he was not invited to.

In the above images, we see concept art from the submission for this competition made by sculptor Miodrag Živković, which was among the most impressive of the submissions. With two walkway panels that curved vertically to meet and form a circle, the concept was sharp and innovative, clearly showing a step of creative growth for Živković. However, of the eight entries put forward for this Zadar project, the jury pool evaluating the submissions were unsatisfied with ALL of them and rejected the entire group. Much scandal ensued as a result of this dramatic decision to not accept or construct any proposals. A follow-up competition was held in 1988, but all entries for that were also dismissed and rejected. To read more about this failed competition and to see all the entries put forward, an excellent paper on the topic can be found at THIS link [PDF, page 299].


7.) Monument to President Josip Broz Tito, Zagreb, Croatia

Concept models by Vojin Bakić for the Monument to President Josip Broz Tito in Zagreb, Croatia. Photo credit: Vojin Bakić archive

Name: Monument to the President Josip Broz Tito

Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Author(s): Vojin Bakić & Zoran Bakić

Year proposed: 1986

Description: Similar to the instance in Zadar, the concept of creating a grand memorial complex for President Tito in Zagreb was spurned by his 1980 death, with this monument planned to be grander than any other and set to be unveiled in 1992 in order to celebrate Tito's 100th birthday. The location of the monument was intended to be in front of Zagreb's City Hall on Revolution Square (today called Stjepan Radić Square). When the design competition for the project was announced in 1986, over 80 individuals and groups submitted proposals, created a fierce race for first. In the end, the proposal which won the competition's first prize was that of Zagreb sculptor Vojin Bakić, which he had created in cooperation with his architect son Zoran. Bakić's concept consisted of a geometric fractal-like stainless-steel wall which was to soar over 36m tall, through the middle of which was a large opening, allowing it to operate as a sort of 'triumphant arch'. In front of this would stand a sculpture of Tito over 4m tall wearing his standard long-coat. However, the future of the project came into question as the political situation in Yugoslavia began to deteriorate in 1990, then, when war broke out in Croatia in 1991, the project was canceled all together. Tragically, the very next year in 1992, Bakić himself passed away, as well as his son Zoran.


8.) Jajinci Memorial Park, Belgrade, Serbia

Concept art by Bogdan Bogdanović for the Jajinci Memorial Complex in Belgrade. Photo credit: 'Urbanizam Beograda' journal, #53/54, 1978

Name: Jajinci Memorial Complex [profile page]

Location: Belgrade, Serbia

Author(s): Bogdan Bogdanović, with Dušice Pavlović, Prvoslav Popović, Predrag Rrstić and Leonida Šejke

Year proposed: 1978

Description: The Jajinci site on the southern outskirts of Belgrade was a tragic site of mass killing during WWII. Ever since the years right the end of the war in 1945, efforts were put forward to find a way to memorialize this tragic site of death and suffering. A small memorial wall was built in 1951, but even then, many thought a much grander expression of monumentality was necessary to properly pay tribute to those who were massacre here. As such, a design competition for a Jajinci memorial was held in 1956, but while a winner was chosen (by architect Zdenko Kolacio & sculptor Kosta Angeli Radovani), but the concept was strangely never built. A second design competition was held in 1978, of which one of the contributors was Bogdan Bogdanović, who led a design team of five other artists and architects. This proposal, which can be seen in two images above with its two ghostly arms stretching into the sky, is greatly unlike any of his other memorial works and stands as a unique incarnation of his vision and innovation in memorial architecture. However, this 2nd competition was again won by Kolacio & Radovani, but again, it was not built. A 3rd competition was held in 1980, which, not surprisingly, Kolacio & Radovani did not participate. It was won by a proposal submitted by Slovene architect Marko Mušić. Yet, it too was never built. In the end, the monument committee abandoned competitions and directly commissioned a work from Serbian sculptor Vojin Stojić, which was ultimately completed in 1988. For more info on the Jajinci Memorial Complex, see my profile page for the site at THIS link.


9.) Monument to Fallen Fighters, Nikšić, Montenegro

A concept model by Ljubomir Denković for the Monument to Fallen Fighters in Nikšić, Montenegro. Photo credit: Ljubomir Denković archive

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters [profile page]

Location: Nikšić, Montenegro

Year proposed: 1980

Description: In the above image we see a concept model created in 1980 by Novi Sad sculptor Ljubomir Denković which was submitted to the design competition for the Monument to Fallen Fighters which was to be built in the town of Nikšić, Montenegro. The grand complex here envisioned by Denković is fascinating both artistically and architecturally, with its smooth organic form of curves and crests clearly inspired by the grand memorial complex he made the year before in Veles, N. Macedonia. However, despite the ambitiousness of this design, the selection jury overseeing the competition ultimately went with a concept submitted by Montenegrin sculptor Ljubo Vojvodić, perhaps because of its more modest scale. For more info on the Monument to Fallen Fighters in Nikšić, Montenegro, see the profile page I have for the site at THIS link.


10.) Monument to the Revolution, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Concept art by Lenassi for the Monument to the Revolution in Ljubljana. Photo credit: 'Spomenik revolucije Draga Tršarja' book by Jure Mikuž

Name: Monument to the Revolution [profile page]

Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Author(s): Janez Lenassi

Year proposed: 1962

Description: The announcement of the design competition in 1962 for a project to create a "Monument to the Revolution" in Revolution Square (today called Republic Square) in the heart of Ljubljana instigated a significant reaction from the creative community of Yugoslavia. Over 30 submissions were made to this competition from some of the most notable names in sculpture, art and architecture in the country, with submissions coming from teams located in every corner of Yugoslavia. In the above image we can see the submission made by famous Slovene sculptor Janez Lenassi, which, of all of the submissions made, is among the most visually arresting and artistically poetic. Though, in the end, the competition was won by a submission put forward by Slovene sculptor Drago Tršar & architect Vladimir Braco Mušič, which was completed in 1975. To learn more about the Monument to the Revolution in Ljubljana, see the profile page for the site at THIS link. To see ALL of the +30 submissions made for this competition, THIS book by Jure Mikuž has the full collection.


11.) Jasenovac Concentration Camp Monument, Jasenovac, Croatia

Concept model by Vanja Radauš for the Jasenovac Concentration Camp Monument. Photo credit: 'Revolucionarno Kiparstvo' book, 1977

Name: Jasenovac Concentration Camp Monument [profile page]

Location: Jasenovac, Croatia

Author(s): Vanja Radauš

Year proposed: 1952

Description: The concentration camp at the Brickworks factory at Jasenovac, Croatia was among the most tragic sites of inhumane massacre and death of innocent people in the Yugoslav region during WWII. Efforts to memorialize this senseless tragedy sprung up organically almost as soon as people had a chance to mourn the losses which had occurred. Over the subsequent years after WWII into the 1950s, several open proposals by emotionally touched artists and architects were put forward. One such concept can be seen in the above image, which is a proposal by famous Croatian sculptor Vanja Radauš. His concept for a monument at Jasenovac was a large stone block carved with skulls surrounded by mournful figures in long cloaks. This concept by Radauš speaks clearly of the horrors and death witnessed at Jasenovac, however, authorities overseeing the Jasenovac site ultimately dismissed this proposal. In the end, it was a concept put forward by Bogdan Bogdanović in 1960 that was chosen as the final award winning submission. Compared to the design by Radauš, the one by Bogdanović was of a much more reflective and contemplative nature, eliminating any direct references or symbols to death and sadness. For more info on Bogdanović's monument concept that was finally completed at Jasenovac in 1966, see THIS link.


12.) Monument to Matija Gubec, Gornja Stubica, Croatia

Concept model by Džamonja for monument to Matija Gubec in Gornja Stubica, Croatia. Photo credit: 'Urbanizam Beograd' journal, #40, 1969

Name: Monument to Matija Gubec

Location: Gornja Stubica, Croatia

Author(s): Dušan Džamonja

Year proposed: 1969

Description: On the 400th anniversary of the 1573 Peasants Revolt, which was led by revolutionary Matija Gubec against the nobility of Croatia, Styria and Carniola, Yugoslav authorities made the decision to erect a large monument on the location where Gubec fell in battle at Oršić Castle by the small village of Gornja Stubica. While it might seem unusual that a large monument would be built to a 16th century fighter in the 1960s/70s, it was actually common for the government bodies in Yugoslavia to build monuments to historical figures who had legacies of fighting for the working class as a means of creating more cultural continuity between the modern workers' struggles and similar events of the past. The commission for this monument project was initially handed to famous Croatian sculptor Antun Augustinčić in 1968, however, as a law was passed soon thereafter that a design competition MUST occur for all notable monument project, the invitation was withdrawn, as Augustinčić had no such interest in participating in a competition.

When a design competition was announced, many dozens of the most significant names in Yugoslav monument building participated. Above we can see an image for the submission made by Zagreb sculptor Dušan Džamonja, which itself is quite striking and dramatic with its flow of forms and organic geometry. However, as Augustinčić continued to protest the competition, Džamonja, as well as many of significant names, such as Bakić, Radovani, Radauš and others, withdrew their entries in solidarity with Augustinčić. When the jury of the competition was faced with judging the final selection of reduced entries, they ultimately found none of them were adequate to be constructed. In the end, the commission was handed over back to Augustinčić and the monument was completed in 1973. An excellent paper about the creation of the monument, with many photos of the final entries and Augustinčić's concept art, can be found at THIS link [PDF].


13.) Monument to Fallen Miner's, Mitrovica, Kosovo*

Concept art by Bogdanović for the Monument to Fallen Miners in Mitrovica, Kosovo*. Photo credit: MoMA NYC/Bogdanović archive

Name: Monument to Fallen Miners [profile page]

Location: Mitrovica, Kosovo*

Year proposed: 1960s

Description: In this image we see a concept drawing for one of the many design ideas formulated over the 1960s by Belgrade architect Bogdan Bogdanović for the "Monument to Fallen Fighters" which was to be built in the city of Mitrovica, Kosovo*. While Bogdanović ultimately chose a vastly different design path for this monument than the one seen in his above drawing, which he would complete in 1973, it is fascinating to gaze at this amazingly innovative and structurally sophisticated concept of sharp ascending lines and imagine how it would have appeared if fully realized. This idea seems a full departure for Bogdanović in work he had completed previous to this, so it is curious to wonder his thoughts behind creating this design concept as well as to wonder why he ultimately abandoned it as an idea. More info about the final form which Bogdanović took for the Monument to Fallen Miners can be found at THIS link.


14.) Monument to Fallen Fighters, Golubovci, Montenegro

Name: Monument to Fallen Fighters [profile page]

Location: Golubovci, Montenegro

Author(s): Slobodan Bobo Slovinić

Year proposed: 1972

Description: In this image we see a concept model created by Montenegrin architect Slobodan Bobo Slovinić in 1972 for the design competition to create the Monument to Fallen Fighters which was to be built in the small town of Golubovci, Montenegro. Dramatic and forward-thinking in its form, Slovinić intended this unusual shape to symbolize a tall stalk of corn, as a means of referencing the agricultural heritage of the region. In the end, the jury judging the design competition for the Golubovci monument awarded the commission to the proposal put forward by Montenegrin architect Vukota Tupa Vukotić. However, the jury was so impressed with Slovinić's work that he was personally invited to create two large bronze relief sculptures that would be installed at the Golubovci memorial complex right next to Vukotić's winning sculpture. More information about the Monument to Fallen Fighters in Golubovci, which was completed in 1974, can be found at the profile page at THIS link.


15.) Memorial to the Fallen of the Lješanska Nahija Region, Barutana, Montenegro

Name: Memorial to the Fallen of the Lješanska Nahija Region

Location: Barutana, Montenegro

Author(s): Slobodan Bobo Slovinić

Year proposed: 1975

Description: In these two photos we can see views of the concept model proposed by Montenegrin architect Slobodan Bobo Slovinić in 1975 for the design competition to create the Memorial to the Fallen of the Lješanska Nahija Region which was to be built in the small village of Barutana that is west of the city that it today called Podgorica. Based around the concept of joyfully flying swan, Slovinić's idea was meant to express ideas of freedom and victory through the ages through the form of a free and unrestrained bird in flight. Yet, despite its imaginative and creative beauty, this concept ultimately lost out in the final judging of the design competition to a proposal put forward by Montenegrin architect Svetlana Kana Radević. The monument here at Barutana was finally completed in 1980 according to the final designs of Radević. More info about it can be found at the profile page at THIS link.


*NOTE: All mentions of the designation "Kosovo" on this page are made without prejudice to the position on status, and is in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 and the International Court of Justice's Opinion of the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

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