[Art][Travel] Croatian Museum of Naïve Art

<Featured Image:  Winter Landscape with Woman, Mijo Kovačić>

I have been to numerous art museums around the world including some of world famous gigantic art museums but it’s really the first time to see Croatian Naive Art. Near the St. Mark’s Church with beautiful mosaic roof, you can find the museum and it’s a hidden charm in Zagreb if you like going to art museum. It’s kind of art works that are hard to find outside of Croatia.  Maybe it’s the most Croatian things you’ll see.

The museum is small so it would take more or less than one hour to thoroughly look around art works in the museum. There are not many people in the museum so if you like to enjoy appreciating art work quietly, this is the place for you!

(I loved the interior design here. So modern and simple!)

In Croatia, naïve art was at first connected with the works of peasants and working men, ordinary men and women unlike famous European(mostly French) artists trained in professional art schools. Naïve art assumes the work of artists who are more or less self-taught, painters and sculptors with no formal art training, but who have achieved their own creative style and a high level of art. An identifiably individual style and poetic nature distinguishes the Naïve from other “amateur” painters and sculptors, and from the general self-taught artist.

Of the artists exhibited, Ivan Generalić  and Ivan Rabuzin are most popular ones in the museum. Ivan Generalić  is so called ‘the founder of Naïve Art”.

Here are some paintings by Ivan Generalić .

self portrai




deer in the forest

<Deer in the Forest,1956>

For Ivan Generalić, his home was and Yugoslavian peasant life of that time was his inspiration. Come to think of it, during traveling for 10 days in Croatia, I had not paid close attention to the life of peasants in Croatia.

Here are some paintings by other artists. It’s fun to notice the different and identifiable style of each artist.

on the hills

<On the Hills, Primeval Forest, Ivan Rabuzin,1960>

Ivan Rabuzin is the second most important painter’s in this art movement, arguably. His paintings are very dreamlike than realistic so the museum said his paintings are particularly popular among Japanese visitors.

raskisni brod

<Raskosni brod, Drago Jurak, 1974>

Hmm.. it looks like colorful version of Noah’s Ark.



<Gvajana, Josip Generalić, 1978>

This painting was one of the most memorable ones for me. Josip is a son of the founder of this art trend. I googled ‘Gvajana’ and the search result showed  the country ‘Guyana’. I assumed the painting reflects the impression of the country to the artist. When I saw it People in the paintings look young  and they seem to be fallen asleep after heavy drinking. I thought ‘Was he trying to show Guyana was kind of hedonistic’? It rather looks like the rebel of the Naive Art.  I was curious.

From Googling, I found out that he was actually showing the gruesome aftermath of Jim Jones mass suicide, with a pair of monkeys watching at the smiling corpses. After knowing the background, the painting appears to me quite grotesque.

The wind in winter

<The wind in Winter, 1973,Dragan Gaži>

This painting was one of my favourites. I really like the color of sky. The contrast in color between the sky and the snow is quite beautiful with all the barren trees and humble houses covered with snow.  Among naive arts, Winter scenes are the most common because artisitic peasants are taking rest from farming during the winter.



<Swineherd ,1967,Mijo Kovačić>

This is painted by the same painter in the featured image of this blog. I also like this painter because of the beautiful color. When my family was driving from Krka national park to Plitvice national park, we passed by rural area of Croatia and the color of sunset was really an astonishing combination of orange and red exactly like the one in this painting. I was jealous of the peasants of Croatia a little bit for their privilege to watch this beautiful sunset everyday.


These paintings are painted by Emerik Feješ in 1950s and 1960s. Unlike majority of painters in the museum, Emerik likes to paint famous tourist attractions in Europe. The third one is Saint Chapelle and actually that’s one of my favourite chapels in Europe,or whole world. I was so happy to see Saint Chapelle in the museum. Surprisingly, the painter never visited those places. He got black-and-white post cards of these places and apply colors he likes.


It is amazing to see how these artists with humble background in art were able to develop their own distinctive styles and settled their style as one of the genres in art. As I said earlier, it’s something very distinct from the art from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

If you have extra time after this museum, there is “Broken Relationship Museum”!