Updated: Oct 15
The bronze statuary depiction of Josip Broz Tito by legendary Croatian artist Antun Augustinčić is arguably the most famous likeness of the Yugoslav leader ever created in art. The sheer amount of times this work has been reproduced over the years since its original creation in 1943, according to various sources, number as few as 20 and as high as 40 (the exact number is unknown), with new public large-scale versions of the work still being produced up to the present day. However, for all of the fame and fan-fare of this enduring sculptural work of Tito, there are few easily accessible articles that deeply explore the history of this statue or that examine its many incarnations, which can be especially illuminating as many of these individual works often have unique stories of their own. While some examples of Augustinčić's Tito statue have remained untouched in their original locations through several decades, others have bounced around from place to place in the post-Yugoslav-era.
Through the course of this article, I will explore the history of this famous statue, the story about how it came to be created by its author Antun Augustinčić, its incredible life of reproduction across Yugoslavia, and finally, an in-depth look at the various examples of this sculpture as they exists today across the landscape (both original versions and modern-day recreations).
A History of Tito's Augustinčić Statue
Even before WWII, Antun Augustinčić was considered one of the greatest Croatian sculptors of his time, crafting some of the most dramatic and evocative statues and figures the region had ever seen. Having done much of his early training and studying in Paris, Augustinčić slowly built up a respectable career through his early youth to become a renowned and sought after sculptor not only in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but across Europe as well. Not surprisingly, his artistic skills were sought after not only by art lovers, but also by government leaders and rulers, as well. Such commissions began when he was asked to create multiple sculptural monuments depicting King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, one located in Skopje and the other at Sombor. However, as WWII began in 1941, the royal family of Yugoslavia was swept away and the notorious politician Ante Pavelić stepped up in Croatia as the leader of the fascist Ustaše regime. Augustinčić proceeded to the next phase in his depictions of military leaders when he was employed to create sculptures of Pavelić, who was keen to take advantage of Augustinčić's skills to promote himself via art. However, eager to escape the confines of Pavelić's oppressive regime, in the fall of 1943, Augustinčić fled from the sphere of Ustaše control and joined in with the antifascist communist resistance forces of Marshal Josip Broz Tito's Partisan Army.
Augustinčić joined up with the Partisans at the town of Jajce (in present-day Bosnia & Herzegovina) in the fall of 1943, just a few months after the famous Battle of Sutjeska. At that point, Jajce was at the center of a large region which was designated as "free territory" liberated from fascist control by the Partisan Army. Already a fan of Augustinčić's skills as a sculptor, Tito asked if the artist could create for him a dignified portrait. This would be the first significant work in which Tito's likeness would be captured in sculpture. The process of Augustinčić creating Tito's sculpture was well documented in a series of photos, one of which can be seen above. As one source goes on to explain: "the photographs that recorded [this event] traveled the world in order to show that the Partisan movement was not only an armed struggle, but that cultural actions were also taking place in this liberated territory." The sculptural work that Augustinčić created here at Jajce consisted of a bust that depicted Tito looking forward solemnly with a stoic look on his face and his brow furrowed as if he was looking out concerningly across a battlefield or pensively deciding his next strategic move.
Just a few weeks after Augustinčić completed Tito's bust on November 29th, 1943, it was used as the centerpiece of the 2nd session of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ), held here in Jajce. Every single speaker who addressed the delegates during the session, most notably Tito (as seen in the above photo), stood directly next to the bust as the sculpture symbolically looked out over the gathering from a tall pedestal. These few photos of the bust's creation and its use as a feature of Jajce's 2nd session of AVNOJ are some of the only documentations of this original work, as its current location is not clear. Some sources say it was lost during the course of WWII, while other sources suggest it may have ended up in the BiH town of Bosanski Petrovac, only to be later destroyed during the Bosnian War of the 1990s. Either way, the present location of this original sculpture (even whether it still exists or not) does not seem to be known with any confidence or certainty.
In the months just after the end of the war, Augustinčić went back to his personal art studio in Zagreb where he began to think upon this lost bust he had created in Jajce. As a result, in 1947, he began to develop a full size statuary depiction of Tito based off of and inspired by this lost bust. After just a few months, Augustinčić quickly completed a small 23cm tall concept model for what he envisioned would be a full size statue of Josip Broz Tito. The work depicts the Yugoslav leader dressed in his uniform and long military trench-coat (šinjel) with nearly the same head from the Jajce bust, but this time it is hung low, staring down as he holds in arms behind his back and steps forward. As he walks forward with a determined step, a gust of wind is seen blowing open the lapels of Tito's trench coat, a feature which reseacher Vinko Srhoj interprets as a kind of "theatre curtain, a powerful drapery that opens and frames the power of his stride, dramatizing Tito's physical appearance, its monolithic, slow, yet unstoppable energy of movement." In this sculpture, Augustinčić captures Tito as a true statesman, a portrayal fit for a politician who aims to be understood as the "father of a nation". Interestingly, as Belgrade art historian Ana Panić with the Museum of Yugoslavia points out in a recent article, the figurative composition of this work bears a striking resemblance to an earlier monument that Augustinčić made in 1935 of King Alexander I of the Yugoslav Karađorđević dynasty that was located in the present-day town of Varaždin, Croatia, with its long military trench coat, forward-stepping motion and downward glare (seen in the photo below). However, this monument at Varaždin was destroyed in 1941 as the Ustaše came to power.
Tito was extremely pleased with Augustinčić's concept and, as a result, several life-size versions of this work were ordered to be cast in bronze at the Art Foundry in Zagreb in 1948. Interestingly, various sources seem to be conflicting as far as how many versions Augustinčić originally had cast, with some saying only three, others saying upwards of nine, while other sources say that one copy was made to be placed in each of the six socialist republics of Yugoslavia. However, what seems to be universally accepted is that the very first of these full-size castings of Tito was the version that was installed in front of his childhood home at his birthplace in Kumrovec, Croatia. Over the subsequent decades, many more dozens of these full-size reproductions of Augustinčić's concept were erected across Yugoslavia. Belgrade-based academic researcher Andrew Lawler recounts in discussions I've had with him that he has heard that upwards of thirty full-size bronze castings of Augustinčić's sculpture were made during the Yugoslav-era, with a small number of these being publicly displayed and many others housed within institutions not actively open the the public (such as military bases, government buildings, state property, etc). In addition to this series of full-size versions, there were thousands of smaller-sized versions of this work created (along with bust versions, as well), making it by far the most famous and most reproduced sculptural likeness of the Yugoslav leader.
But where lies the root of the popularity and allure of Augustinčić's depiction of Tito? Is it because it was among the first, or captured during the heat of war, or created by such a famous sculptor, or something else entirely? It is an unquestionably unique embodiment of Tito as a leader, especially when compared to the gaudy, grandiose and over-the-top depictions often seen in the sculptural representations of many other communist leaders of the 20th century. Tito is not shown as flamboyantly exuberant or celebrating victory in an exaggerated way... instead, Tito is shown as restrained, thoughtful and compassionate. In 1968, the famous Yugoslav writer Miroslav Krleža made a description of this work that keenly captures the history and the atmosphere contained within Augustinčić's statue:
Caped in his military overcoat, with an almost melancholic silhouette, Tito was not modeled in a victorious fashion: a state of perilous war had been raging for three years in dangerous uncertainty, precipitated by guerrilla warfare, and he was within the reach of the German army during the time sculpture was made. This, Augustinčić’s Tito, in his Partisan overcoat, who raised the flag of resistance at a crucial moment in history when the other politicians of our country had surrendered, was not shown at the head of the army leading his brigades; this is the vision of a man with his head bowed down as the the result of continual worries, deep in thoughts, walking the narrow courtyard of Jajce fortress, in a similar way that he had been pacing the courtyards of prison just a few years prior [while at Lepoglava].
In this quote, Krleža is better contextualizing the imagery and figurative form which Augustinčić is conveying in the sculpture, allowing us to better grasp the complex play of human drama and body language that makes this sculpture so compelling and enigmatic. Furthermore, while Yugoslavia's Karađorđević royalty had hundreds of monuments across their kingdom, Tito only had a few modestly placed public sculptural works depicting himself. As Belgrade art historian Ana Panić with the Museum of Yugoslavia again notes in a recent article: "[Tito's] sculptures were in the circle of factories, barracks, student campuses and museums... they were rarely in the squares, but instead more hidden, which is why, unlike the Karađorđević sculptures, they were seldom destroyed when the system changed again." The fact that these statues of Tito are still being preserved, honored and commemorated up to the present day, even 40 years after the death of Tito and 30 years since the dismantling of Yugoslavia, is a testament to this work's artistic endurance and its legacy as a popular symbol. Even modern artists in the former Yugoslav region are inspired by it, such as when famous Zagreb-based modernist sculptor Ivan Fijolić made a recreation of the statue in 2012 where he faithfully produced a replica of the sculpture but replaced Tito's head with that of his wife Jovanka. Many hundreds, if not thousands, of various depictions of Josip Broz Tito were made over his lifetime by a multitude of painters and sculptors, however, Augustinčić's Tito would seem to stand and loom large over all the rest.
Versions of Augustinčić's Tito Statue
In the following sections, we will look at the various versions of Tito's Augustinčić statue that continue to reside at multiple locations across the former Yugoslavia. Some of these statues have always remained in their current locations, while others have taken incredible journeys over the decades before finding themselves at their present spots.
1.) Josip Broz Tito Museum, Kumrovec, Croatia
Original & Current Location: Josip Broz Tito Museum, Kumrovec, Croatia
Year unveiled: 1948
Coordinates: N46°04'33.8", E15°40'39.2"
Description: Right next to the cottage of Tito's birth in Kumrovec, Croatia is situated a 2m tall bronze casting of Augustinčić's Josip Broz Tito sculpture, with this work being the very first example of this work installed for public viewing. When the work was originally installed in 1948, this area had not yet been officially developed as a touristic site, however, after the restoration of Tito's cottage in 1953 and its development as a museum site, this sculpture became one of the central attractions of the thousands of people who began come on pilgrimages to Kumrovec each year during the Yugoslav-era. At its height of popularity in the 1970s, it was estimated that over half a million visitors came to Tito's cottage here at Kumrovec and viewed Augustinčić's Tito statue each year. However, after the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, regular visitation to this site all but ceased.
It was not until the late 1990s that tourism to Kumrovec began again, with the museum zone around Tito's cottage being redeveloped as an ethnographic village (however, the cottage exhibits and Tito's statue remained in place). In December of 2004, an unidentified vandal attached a bomb to the sculpture and exploded it, which resulted in its toppling and its head falling off. A photo of the bombed statue can be seen at THIS link. It was quickly repaired and re-situated in its original location, where it remains until present-day. In current times, the museum complex here at Kumrovec again sees thousands of regular visitors every month, while also playing host to tens of thousands of visitors during commemorative events like Tito's birthday on May 25th, with Tito's cottage and the Augustinčić's Tito sculpture being central rallying points around which these celebrations are held.
2.) Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Serbia
Original & Current Location: Museum of Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Serbia
Year unveiled: 1948
Coordinates: 44°47'13.2"N, 20°27'07.6"E
Description: Positioned in front of Tito's final resting place in the House of Flowers, within the current Museum of Yugoslavia in the Dedinje neighborhood of Belgrade (his former personal estate), is where we can find the second example of a bronze casting of Augustinčić's Josip Broz Tito sculpture. This work was unquestionably one of the original 1948 castings, as photos show the statue being used in ceremonies in Belgrade for the 1948 congress for the League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia. Afterward, the sculpture was received at Tito's personal Dedinje estate, however, no museum complex was opened here yet, so, it is not clear where the original presentation space of this sculpture was within the complex. As the complex transitioned into a museum space during the Yugoslav-era called the "Josip Broz Tito Memorial Center", the sculpture became a central feature of the exhibits here. It remains on display very prominently with the museum complex, which today is called the Museum of Yugoslavia. Many of the thousands of people who visit the museum each year get their photos taken in front of the Tito statue, with it also being used as a point of commemoration during Tito's birthday celebrations on May 25th.
Sources seem to also indicate that at least two other additional full size castings of Augustinčić's Tito sculpture are also on display within the museum's grounds, but I was only able to find just a second example (not a third). The location of this second sculpture is in a grassy area between the House of Flowers and the House of Gifts, with its exact location being 44°47'10.7"N, 20°27'06.2"E. I was not able to find any information pertaining to this work as far as when it was cast or when it was brought here to the museum.
3.) Kalemegdan Military Museum, Belgrade, Serbia
Original & Current Location: Kalemegdan Military Museum, Belgrade, Serbia
Year unveiled: 1948?
Coordinates: 44°49'18.9"N, 20°27'00.4"E
Description: Housed within the Military Museum at Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia is another bronze casting of Augustinčić's Josip Broz Tito sculpture, which some sources relate is one of the original casting of this work from 1948. While not much information is available about the history of this particular work, it would seem that this sculpture has remained within the museum's collection since it was initially acquired. This statue of Tito remains a popular attraction within the museum, with many visitors stopping to have their photographs taken with it, as seen in the above photo.
4.) Bežigrad District, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Original Location: Bežigrad District, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Current Location: Brdo Castle, Kranj, Slovenia
Year unveiled: 1948
Current Coordinates: 46°16'22.3"N, 14°22'29.5"E (approx.)
Description: Of the original series of 1948 castings of Augustinčić's Josip Broz Tito sculpture, sources indicate that one of these versions was sent to Ljubljana where it was displayed in the city's bustling Bežigrad district near the site where the present-day Exhibition Center (Gospodarsko razstavišče) now resides. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any photo documentation of the statue in this original location in Bežigrad. However, when work began in the mid-1950s on building this new Exhibition Center (which was being constructed to host the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1958), the Tito sculpture was temporarily moved and then re-situated in front of center upon its completion. A black and white photo seen above shows a small glimpse of where the statue's setting within the Exhibition Center's square. However, it did not stay there for long. The statue was re-situated in 1961 to Ljubljana's Tivoli Park in front of what was then called the "Museum of the People's Revolution" (today called the "National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia"). The above photo shows the statue's placement at that location. It remained in this location up until Slovenian independence in 1991, at which point the museum began to undergo an extensive renovation that included the Tito statue's removal. The statue was subsequently relocated to the sculpture park at Castle Brdo, near Kranj, Slovenia. The probable motivation for moving the sculpture here was because this castle formerly operated as one of the primary official residences of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito during his stays in Slovenia. As the above photo illustrates, the Tito statue has continued to remain in the gardens here at Castle Brdo up until present-day and is accessible for public viewing, however, it was temporarily removed for cleaning in April of 2021 in preparation for an EU Council meeting.
5.) History Museum of BiH, Sarajevo, BiH
Original & Current Location: History Museum of BiH, Sarajevo, BiH
Year unveiled: 1967
Coordinates: 43°51'18.3"N, 18°24'03.1"E
Description: Among the vast collection of artifacts found in the "History Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina" (formerly the "Museum of the Revolution" during the Yugoslav-era) is yet another bronze cast example of Augustinčić's Josip Broz Tito sculpture. Located within the museum's inner courtyard, sources indicate that the museum acquired this sculpture in 1967, though it is not clear if this is also the same year it was cast. Sources seem to indicate that the statue has remained here in the museum all through its history, even though the Bosnian War and during its aftermath. However, the museum was closed to the public during the war and did not re-open until 2003. Meanwhile, in 2013, this sculpture of Tito was covered in yellow caution tape by the activist group "Culture Shutdown" as a symbolic means of protesting the widespread funding shortages for museums and cultural heritage in the city of Sarajevo, a situation which was severely affecting the operations of this and other institutions across the city. Through these issues, the museum remains open to the present day where Augustinčić's Tito sculpture can still be viewed.
6.) University of Sarajevo Campus, Sarajevo, BiH
Original & Current Location: University of Sarajevo Campus, Sarajevo, BiH
Year unveiled: [unknown]
Coordinates: 43°51'21.0"N, 18°23'53.6"E
Description: Located just across "Zmaja od Bosna" street from the Historical Museum of BiH (and about 200m to the west) in a small park in front of one of the faculty buildings for the University of Sarajevo can be found a large bronze figurative sculpture of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito which was cast from a design created by Croatian sculptor Antun Augustinčić. Originally, the university's campus was part of a military complex known as the Maršal Tito Barracks, which was used by Tito and his Partisan Army during WWII and subsequently became an important military installation after the war during the Yugoslav-era. To honor Tito's time spent here at this military barracks with his Partisan forces, a bronze casting of Augustinčić's Tito statue was erected here at the barracks. From discussions that I have had with long-time residents of Sarajevo, the current location of the statue is the site in which the statue was originally erected and has not moved since that point. Yet, determining the year in which it was erected continues to be an elusive bit of information. The Tito statue, in its current setting in front of the university, continues to be well maintained and hosts annual commemorative events.
7.) AVNOJ Museum, Jajce, BiH
Original & Current Location: AVNOJ Museum, Jajce, BiH
Year unveiled: ~2007
Coordinates: 44°20'17.2"N, 17°16'05.2"E
Description: In 1953, the building where the 2nd session of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) took place in 1943 was turned into a museum complex dedicated to that event. During the Yugoslav-era, this was a hugely important historical and cultural site and was visited by thousands of tourists a year, as the 2nd AVNOJ session which occurred here was regarded as the official starting point of the federation of Yugoslav republics. The Jajce AVNOJ Museum maintained this popular status until the Bosnian War struck in the 1990s, at which time it suffered significant damage, with many of its exhibits and artifacts being destroyed and burned. On November 29th, 2008 (the 65th anniversary of the 2nd AVNOJ), the museum finally was re-opened to the public. In discussions that my friend Peter Korchnak had with the museum's director Emsada Leko in 2020, she reveals that a large hand-crafted recreation of Augustinčić's Tito statue that was being used as a prop for a stage production at the Zenica National Theatre was brought to the museum for its opening celebration.
Created from styrofoam and painted to look as if it was one of Augustinčić's bronze castings, the work is a valiant effort at attempting to recreate the original work, though some of its details and proportions are a bit flatter and rendered with less detail and depth than is found on Augustinčić's original sculpture. The Tito prop statue was only supposed to be present at the site for the museum's opening, however, the museum's director recently explained to Peter (her words translated here into English) that things did not go as planned: "The statue was supposed to be removed after re-opening, but this was delayed because due to its size, it could no longer fit through the door. The Museum was constantly criticized for keeping the statue because it wasn't part of the permanent exhibition; it was of bad quality (made of styrofoam which was disintegrating and one hand was missing); and it was a bad likeness of Tito. It was truly the worst kitsch. The author of the permanent exhibition told us during one visit to the Museum that we ought to remove it immediately, that it is a shame for our institution because it looks like we are mocking Tito with it. We did remove it two years ago: the statue was cut up and taken out of the museum." So, as of 2018, the statue no longer resides within the museum. The cut up tattered and disintegrating remains of the foam statue replica were presumably discarded at that time.
[Thank you to Peter Korchnak and his 'Remembering Yugoslavia' project for his efforts in finding information about this situation.]
8.) Tito's Square, Velenje, Slovenia
Original & Current Location: Tito's Square, Velenje, Slovenia
Year unveiled: 1977
Coordinates: 46°21'32.6"N, 15°06'52.2"E
Description: Situated at the center of a greenspace on the western edge of Tito's Square in Velenje [profile page] is a large bronze statue of the former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito that stands just over 6m tall and sits on a 4m tall pedestal. This sculptural work was unveiled on June 25th, 1977 and was based off the original 1948 Tito statue by sculptor Antun Augustinčić, but this version was carried out by Augustinčić trusted assistants Vladimir Herljević & Ivan Pavić. The date of the unveiling of this Tito monument was meant to mark 40 years since Tito became head of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, as well as Tito's 85th birthday and the 40th anniversary of the 1st Congress of the Communist Party of Slovenia. Tito was invited to this unveiling, but was unable to attend. The creation of this project was funded largely via a grassroots effort of donations from local individuals from across the Šalek Valley. It was and continues to be the largest sculptural incarnation of Tito in the world. While the exact purposes for creating such a large Tito statue are not fully clear, it may have much to do with Tito visiting the town so many times and proudly using it as a exhibition for visiting world leaders of Yugoslavia's innovation and modernization. In fact, Velenje was such a huge fan of Tito that after he passed away in 1980, the town changed its name to "Titovo Velenje" (but it was changed back only eleven years later in 1991 as Slovenia separated from Yugoslavia).
Presently, this statue of Tito still exists in its original position and has not moved since being installed in 1977. In the post-Yugoslav-era, there has been some discussion of moving the sculpture, but the leadership and people of Velenje have always collectively kept steady on leaving the monument as it sits. It continues to be a local landmark and popular tourist attraction, with many people visiting Velenje just to see the Tito statue.
9.) Memorial House of 6th Proletariat Division, Mukinje, Croatia
Original Location: Memorial House of 6th Proletariat Division, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Current Location: The Augustinčić Museum, Klanjec, Croatia
Year unveiled: 1948?
Current coordinates: 46°03'02.4"N, 15°44'31.7"E
Description: Some sources indicate that of the number of original 1948 bronze castings of Antun Augustinčić's Tito sculpture, one of these castings went to the small village of Mukinje, Croatia (near the Plitvice Lakes) to be housed within the museum of the Memorial House of 6th Proletariat Division. As was mentioned in the intro to this article, most of these Tito statues were not exhibited at the center of large squares or in exalted locations (though some were, such as in Velenje), but were often instead placed in more subdued locations and within museum collections. While it is not known for certain why this museum was chosen to host this statue, it may have something to do with the 6th Proletariat Division being awarded the "Order of the People's Heroes" distinction not long after the end of the war.
This Tito statue remained here within the museum all during the Yugoslav-era, however, vandals broke into the museum during the conflicts which occurred in this region during the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s and the statue was damaged and defaced. The graffiti the statue was painted with was very symbolic, with paint streaming from Tito's eyes like tears and a star drawn over top of his heart. After the end of the war, the defaced sculpture was sent to the Antun Augustinčić Museum in Klanjec, Croatia, where it was put on display, graffiti and all! It continues to stand among the museum's exhibits up until the present day, positioned right next to some of the original full-size plaster models of Augustinčić's Tito statue. The unique character of this particular defaced Tito statue has also itself become a distinct cultural artifact in recent decades, so much so that it was temporarily exhibited at a large exhibition in Zagreb in 2012 called "Reflections of Time - 1945 - 1955", which was dedicated to displaying unique items from Yugoslav history just after WWII.
10.) Memorial Complex Stolice, Krupanj, Serbia
Original Location: Memorial Complex Stolice, Krupanj, Serbia
Current Location: Dom Kulture, Krupanj, Serbia
Year unveiled: 1948?
Current coordinates: 44°21'49.6"N, 19°21'47.2"E
Description: The small mining office building located on the outskirts of the village of Brštica, not far from Krupanj, is where Tito and numerous leaders of his Partisan resistance movement met on September 26th, 1941 for a pivotal meeting during WWII. After the war, the building where this meeting took place was set up into a museum which was known as the Stolice Memorial Complex [profile page]. In 1981, sources indicate that a bronze casting of Augustinčić's Tito sculpture was placed in front of the museum as a means of commemorating 40 years since the 1941 meeting which Tito presided over here. A vintage photo above shows the original location of the statue within the complex. However, it is not clear where this statue originated from before being brought here to Stolice, especially inasmuch as whether it was a recent casting from 1981 or whether it was among the versions originally cast in 1948. The statue stood proudly outside the museum for roughly ten years until the dismantling of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s. It was during that time that a group of unknown vandals defaced the statue and threw it down the hill where it came to rest at the bottom of a nearby ravine.
According to research done by Belgrade-based researcher Andrew Lawler, the Tito statue sat at the bottom of this ravine until about 2005, when the director of the nearby Dom Kulture (Cultural Center) in Krupanj put together a team to recover the statue. It was then brought back to the Dom Kulture at put into storage. The above photos showing the recovered statue at the Dom Kulture are from 2013 and taken by researcher Andrew Lawler during his visit to document the statue. At present, it is presumably still being stored within the institution, but unfortunately not on display for public viewing.
[Much of the recent history of this statue comes from research notes for the thesis of Andrew Lawler titled "The Partisans’ Cemetery in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina: Implications of the deterioration of a Monument and Site", defended at KU Leuven, Belgium, September 2013.]
11.) Antun Augustinčić Museum, Klanjec, Croatia
Original Location: Josip Broz Tito Political School, Kumrovec, Croatia
Current Location: Antun Augustinčić Museum, Klanjec, Croatia
Year unveiled: 1981
Current coordinates: 46°03'01.8"N, 15°44'33.0"E
Description: IIn 1981, the "Josip Broz Tito" SKJ Political School was established in Tito’s hometown of Kumrovec, Croatia. This enormous complex was designed by architects Danilo Cvjetković & Miomir Lužajić. Its form is characterized by its long thin sloping form of streamlined modernism, almost as if it is a rocky outcrop or cliff conforming to the textures of the hillside. As part of the unveiling of this school, one of Antun Augustinčić’s classic sculptures was cast and installed within the atrium of the facility. However, as the dismantling of Yugoslavia began, the political school was shut down in 1990. First, the school was used to house and train members of the Croatian military, but then, as armed conflict subsequently broke out across parts of the newly independent Croatia through the 1990s, displaced refugees from the town of Vukovar were housed here just as they were in the Kumrovec Spomen-Dom. At this point, the name of the political school was changed to "Hotel Zagorje". After the war, the Tito statue was donated to the Augustinčić Gallery in 2004.
The Augustinčić Gallery space, itself a fantastic building created by architect Ante Lozica and opened in 1976, holds a huge repository of the sculptural work by Augustinčić (as well as holding in its collection the original plaster mold for the Tito sculpture). After the gallery acquired the sculpture, the Political School Tito statue was installed in the gardens around the gallery and is today one of the institution’s most cherished works.
12.) First Proletariat Brigade Museum, Rudo, BiH
Original Location: First Proletariat Brigade Museum, Rudo, BiH
Current Location: Manual Museum of Forgotten Arts, Novi Sad, Serbia
Year unveiled: 1948?
Current coordinates: 45°14'14.9"N, 19°50'34.1"E
Description: The small town of Rudo, BiH is a community established right on the banks of the Lim River which was the site of the establishment of the famous First Proletariat Brigade, the first brigade-sized military unit of the Yugoslav Partisan Army. In 1971, a memorial museum was established in the town Cultural Center, which sat right in Rudo's central square. As part of this new museum's collection, one of the original 1948 bronze castings of Augustinčić's Tito statue was acquired. It is not clear if the Cultural Center already possessed the statue or if it only came to Rudo with the establishment of the museum. What is known that once the museum was opened in 1971, the statue was displayed prominently at the institution's main entrance.
This statue of Tito remained at the Rudo museum until the Bosnian War of the 1990s, at which point, sources report, a group of fighters seized the statue as a trophy and transported it to Priboj. After arriving in Priboj, the statue was quickly bought for only 400 marks by industrialist Vučko Pećinar, who was director of the metal recycling factory "Sinma", located in Sevojno near Užice. Though the price of raw bronze was very high at this time, Pećinar restrained from melting down the sculpture. The work sat stored in one of his factory's warehouses for many years until 2002, at which point various parties started approaching Pećinar asking to buy the work, including an American, an Albanian, among other individuals. One group that approached Pećinar to purchase the Tito statue in 2002 was Novi Sad businessman and museum owner Siniša Žarin, along with Joška Broz, the grandson of Tito. However, after much negotiations between the groups, no agreement was reached with anyone.
The statue proceeded to sit in storage at Sinma for another 12 years until it was put up for auction in 2014 by the company's new owner, Rajko Vidić, who took over after Pećinar's retirement. Siniša Žarin, who had recently been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the French bank Société Générale, was still extremely interested in purchasing the monument. As such, he used the 20,000 euro prize money he received from the award and put it towards the auction for Sinma's Tito statue. Using that prize money, in addition to some of his own personal funds, Žarin subsequently won the auction and officially took possession of the Tito statue. The work was then transferred to Žarin's institution "Manual Forgotten Arts Museum - MFAM" (Manual muzej zaboravljenih umetnosti) in Novi Sad, where Žarin has displayed over 150,000 items from the Yugoslav socialist-era that he has collected over the years. Augustinčić's Tito statue is currently on display at MFAM, where it can be viewed by the public.
13.) Josip Broz Tito School, Skopje, N. Macedonia
Original & Current Location: "Josip Broz Tito" High School
Year unveiled: 2013
Coordinates: 41°59'42.9"N, 21°25'33.7"E
Description: The date of November 29th is a day that marks the anniversary of the 2nd AVNOJ Congress at Jajce and a day that was credited as being the official creation date of the Yugoslav federation (celebrated as "Republic Day" during the Yugoslav-era). It was on the morning of this day in 2013 (which marked the 70th anniversary of the 2nd AVNOJ Congress) that the city officials of Skopje, Macedonia (today North Macedonia) came to surprisingly discover a tall replica of Augustinčić's Tito statue installed in the city center right in front of Josip Broz Tito High School. The sudden appearance of this statue came as a complete shock to city officials, who reportedly had no prior notification that the monument was to be erected. In fact, who exactly was behind the creation and installation of this statue seems to continue to be a mystery up until the present day. However, despite city officials indicating the its installation was without permit or permission (making it technically illegal), they seem to have no present plans to remove the sculpture. As reporting in regards to the statue during the time of its creation indicates, public sentiment towards the monument is divided.
While the form of this sculptural work appears very similar to that of Augustinčić's original bronze castings and while its unknown author does an impressive job at recreating the original's form and appearance (it is by far the best of the post-Yugoslav replicas), the work does differ in a few ways. Firstly, standing at about 3m tall, its size is a bit larger than Augustinčić's standard bronze castings, which were generally only 2m tall. Furthermore, while the Skopje statue appears bronze as the result of its shiny reflective coating, the statue is actually made of plaster. As a consequence of the statue being made out of such a brittle material, in February of 2018, an unknown vandal hurled a substantially-sized rock at the sculpture which resulted in a large chunk being broken out of the edge of Tito's trench-coat. However, despite such damage, annual commemorative events continue to be held at the statue up to the present day, while the work also continues to succeed in attracting significant numbers of tourists, curious onlookers and political admirers.
Meanwhile, it is important to mention that there were two original examples of the Augustinčić Tito statue that existed here in Skopje. The first example was installed within the city at the Metalski Zavod “Tito” Factory (MZT), while the second was situated at the “Ilinden” Military Barracks. Information was not available as far as relating when these two statues were installed at these locations. While I have not been able to confirm whether or not the statue at the barracks still exists at that location, I was indeed able to confirm that the MZT Factory statue does indeed still exist within its original setting. As one approaches the entrance to the factory, it sits at the end of the avenue in a prominent location within a small circular courtyard next to the factory. The statue sits in a reasonable condition, yet, it does not seem to host any commemorative ceremonies. Its exact coordinates are 41°59'44.1"N, 21°29'03.6"E.
14.) Masline Barracks Museum, Podgorica, Montenegro
Original Location: Masline Barracks, Podgorica, Montenegro
Current Location: Morača River Park, Podgorica, Montenegro
Year unveiled: 1948, re-location 2018
Coordinates: 42°26'25.4"N, 19°15'24.5"E
Description: Within the city of Podgorica, Montenegro (called 'Titograd' during the Yugoslav-era) was a military barracks known today as "Masline", but which itself was known as the "Barracks of Marshal Tito" during that same period. To befit this name, the barracks were gifted one of the original 1948 bronze castings of Augustinčić's Tito statue to place in front of the facility. Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any photo documentation of the statue in this original position. The statue stood here within the barracks at its main circle plaza for decades up until the dismantling of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s. As a result, the statue was removed from its original setting for security purposes in October of 1993 and relocated into the Memorial Room of the 5th Montenegrin Proletarian Brigade, which existed within the barracks complex. A photo of the statue within the museum can be seen above, which shows that positioned next to the statue was its original marble name panel that was installed into the statue's pedestal.
The statue remained with this barrack's memorial room for 25 years until 2018, at which point the mayor of Podgorica Ivan Vuković began to put forward an initiative to relocate this long languishing Tito statue at the Masline Barracks and move it to a prominent place within the city center. When asked about his motivations behind pushing for such a proposal, articles cite Vuković explaining that it is not about being nostalgic about Yugoslavia, but instead showing "proof that Montenegro remains faithful to its anti-fascist orientation". Vuković's initiative passed the Podgorica City Council in October of 2018, at which point the sculpture was moved from the barracks and placed upon a pedestal along St. Peter of Cetinje Boulevard (formerly 'Lenin Boulevard' during the Yugoslav-era) within a park next to Hotel Podgorica along the Morača River. The unveiling ceremony for the statue's new location was held on December 19th, 2018 (which is Podgorica's WWII Liberation Day) and was presided over by Podgorica mayor Ivan Vuković. The setting of the monument is not done in an especially grand or ostentatious manner, as Tito's sculpture is placed only upon a modest 1m tall black stone pedestal within a small understated white gravel square. Furthermore, while the location of the statue is not far at all from the city center, its placement is not within a particularly bustling or high trafficked zone. However, many tourists still seek out the statue to have their photos taken in front of it, while the site also continues to host commemorative events, most notably Tito's birthday on May 25th.
15.) Yugoland, Subotica, Serbia
Original & Current Location: Yugoland Theme Park, Subotica, Serbia
Year unveiled: 2017
Coordinates: 46°04'37.2"N, 19°40'04.5"E [park entrance]
Description: Located within the outskirts of the northern Serbian town of Subotica is a theme park, museum and event space known as "Yugoland/Jugolend", also known as "Mini Yugoslavia". Founded in 2003 by Subotica resident Blaško Gabrić as a means of remembering Yugoslavia, the park has for years been a space where folk festivals, celebrations and commemorations are held which mark old Yugoslav holidays and honor moments and figures from that former nation's past. Originally, there was a bronze bust of Tito that existed at the center of the park, however, it was stolen in 2016. As a result of this theft, local Subotica sculptor Franjo Mačković took it upon himself to fashion a new sculpture for Yugoland which would be based off of Augustinčić's famous Tito statue. After it was completed, Mačković donated the new statue to Yugoland for free.
Unveiled in 2017, Mačković's roughly 2m tall sculpture was created from concrete instead of the bronze of which Augustinčić's original Tito statues were made, but it was subsequently given a surface coating which imitates the appearance of bronze. While the author of this concrete replica does an admirable job at matching the form and aesthetic of the original, the Yugoland Tito does end up looking considerably different from the sculptural work done by Augustinčić. The form in this replica is rendered with less detail when compared to the original, while also lacking the sweeping dimension and impressions of movement that makes Augustinčić's work so dynamic and memorable. However, this lack of exacting resemblance to the original has not diminished this Yugoland Tito from drawing enthusiasm and passion from many of those who come to visit it. Upon its unveiling in August of 2017, even Tito's grandson Joška Broz came to pay respects to the work, with articles reporting him saying "I am grateful to everyone who is here and I want to say that this is proof that Tito did not die". This new Tito statue continues to operate as a significant attraction at Yugoland, with visitors taking photos of themselves in front of monument being one of the park's most popular activities. In addition, the statue acts as a central celebration point for the numerous commemorative events and festivals which take place here.
16.) Dallas, Texas, USA
Current Location: Dallas, Texas, USA
Year unveiled: [unknown]
Coordinates: 32°49'36.3"N, 96°48'08.4"W
Description: One of the most unusual journeys taken by one of Augustinčić's Tito statues on this list is an example that is currently located in Dallas, Texas at the home of American billionaire real estate mogul Harlan Crow. Numerous news articles relate that Crow is an avid collector of historical artifacts, in particular, he has spent decades amassing a collection of monuments depicting notable leaders from around the world. Within this collection, he has acquired sculptures of such figures as Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro, Karl Marx, Hosni Mubarak, Nicolae Ceausescu, Che Guevara, among many others. From information available, Crow purchased the Tito statue at some point in the 1990s, with some sources I've talked to indicating he purchased it from sellers in Croatia. Unfortunately, no information is available in regards to where precisely the statue came from, when it was created or under what circumstances it was sold or transported to the United States. Currently, the Dallas Tito statue resides on the private property of Crow at his sprawling estate on Preston Road in the neighborhood of Highland Park. However, as the above photo indicates, the statue can be just barely glimpsed over the fence from the adjacent Lakeside Park at its Teddy Bear Statue exhibit.
[Much thanks to Kaley Sutton for bringing this information to my attention!]
And Many More?
Records are not clear about exactly how many castings of Augustinčić's Tito statue were made in total during the Yugoslav-era and, as such, the precise number is unknown. The examples which I included in this article are the only ones for which my research was able to find information concerning. However, that does not preclude the possibility that many more may exist out there, not only set in public spaces, but also in private collections or housed within non-public government institutions. In addition, the exact number of modern-day replicas of Augustinčić's Tito statue which have been created in recent times (such as those at Skopje, Jajce and Subotica) is also not clear. If anyone reading this article is aware of additional full-size versions of Augustinčić's Tito statue (originals or replicas) which I did not mention in this article, please contact me with this information!