Modernism in Serbia
Modernism in Serbia is the first comprehensive account of an almost forgotten body of work that once defined regional modernism at its best. The book reconstructs the story of Serbian modernism as a local history within a major movement and views the buildings designed in Belgrade in the 1920s and 1930s as part of a larger cultural phenomenon. Because so many of the buildings discussed are disintegrating or have been destroyed or altered beyond recognition, the book serves not only as a documentary and critical study but also as a preservation resource. Most of the photographs and plans have never been published outside of Serbia, if at all.
In restoring this work to its rightful place in the history of modern architecture, the book also sheds new light on a number of other stories. These include the influence of Le Corbusier and of the Yugoslav avant-garde movement Zenitism and the impact of international modern movements on the theoretical underpinnings of Serbian modernism. One of the subplots follows the story of the Group of Architects of the Modern Movement in Belgrade and its four founding members, Milan Zlokovic, Branislav Kojic, Jan Dubovy, and Dusan Babic. Through an examination of their work and that of other modern architects, most notably Dragisa Brasovan and Nikola Dobrovic, the book discusses the identity of Serbian modernism as it was established in the period from 1925 to 1940. The book also identifies those buildings that represent the purest examples of Serbian modernism and analyzes the qualities that make them quintessentially local forms while part of the larger modernist movement.
Modernism in Serbia is a copublication of the Harvard Design School and MIT Press.
About the Author
Ljiljana Blagojevic is a practicing architect and an architectural historian and theoretician. She is Lecturer at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Belgrade, and teaches at the School for History and Theory of Images in Belgrade.
"Ljiljana Blagojevic's book is a welcome addition to the pioneering series of books on Central and Eastern European architecture that the MIT Press initiated some years ago. Not only does the author bring to light surprising discoveries that have escaped the notice of previous historians of architectural modernism, but she succeeds in describing the specific situation of Serbian architecture in a way that connects it to European developments of the past as well as to theoretical debates of the present. This book restores Belgrade to its rightful place on the map of modernism."
"Serbia has always been a hinge of Slavic resistance to domination from both the West and the East. Its troubled history emerges in the unique brand of modernism that this book so ably documents and discusses. Ljiljana Blagojevic proves that the strength of this seminal movement of the twentieth century lay not in its universality, but in an adaptiveness its doctrinaire founders never imagined. An important, original study."
—Lebbeus Woods, Professor of Architecture, The Cooper Union
"This engaging book applies the international perspectives of Benjaminian critical theory and Lacanian post-structuralism to Serbian modern architecture. A wonderful 'transparency' ensues, of unbiased historical writing and lucid architectural analysis supported by revealing plans, photographs, and documents. This is a model scholarly monograph for the twenty-first century."
—Peter Kaufman, Boston Architectural Center
"With this pioneering study of the Serbian modern movement, the MIT Press continues to uncover Eastern Europe's lost architectural cultures. The modern movement in Serbia was largely dominated in the 1930s by Milan Zlokovic, until now a virtually unknown figure in the West. His broad practice was complemented by the equally brilliant careers of Dragisa Brasovan and Nikola Dobrovic. As Blagojevic shows us, Serbian modernism oscillated throughout the decade between two opposed and somewhat surprising outside influences—the classic order of the Italian rationalist tradition and the dynamism of Czech constructivism."
—Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture, Columbia University