Ana Ereš

University of Belgrade, Faculty of Philosophy, Belgrade, Serbia

The Venice Biennale and Art in Belgrade in the 1950s.

A Contribution to the Study of the Artistic Dialogue between Italy

and Serbia

Abstract: Throughout the twentieth century the International Art Exhibition Venice Bien- nale was seen as a major event by the art world of Belgrade and, more broadly, of Serbia and Yugoslavia. After the Second World War this biggest and most important internatio- nal show of contemporary art provided Belgrade’s artists and art critics with an opportu- nity to acquaint themselves with the latest developments on the international art scene. At the same time, it was used as a platform for the leading figures of Belgrade’s artistic and cultural-policy establishment to create, through the exhibitions mounted in the national pavilion, an image of the country’s artistic contemporaneity aimed at achieving its desired standing in the West. The attitude of Belgrade’s art scene to the Venice Biennale went through a particularly interesting phase in the 1950s. Its transformations offer an oppor- tunity to observe, analyse and expand the knowledge about the changes that marked that turbulent decade in the history of Serbian art, which went a long way from dogmatically exclusive socialist realism to the institutionalization of a high-modernist language as the dominant model. Based on the reconstruction of Yugoslavia’s sustained participation in the Venice Biennale (1950–60), this paper analyses the models of the representation of Serbian art in the international context of the Biennale within a broader context of the intensification of Serbian-Italian artistic contacts during the period under study.

Keywords: Venice Biennale, twentieth-century Serbian art, exhibition history, cultural di- plomacy, post-war modernism