Montenegro may not immediately spring to mind during a discussion about art; and while none of its cities can be compared to major art centres in the world such as Paris, London or New York, it offers hidden gems that are certainly worth taking a look at. From capital Podgorica to the regional towns of Cetinje, Budva and Herceg-Novi, we select ten of the best art galleries in Montenegro.
The Center for Contemporary Art of Montenegro is one of the most important cultural institutions of the country, located in its capital, Podgorica. Founded in 1995, the gallery is sheltered within the monumental Petrovic Castle. The Center’s permanent collection includes a unique and international selection of over 1,000 artworks from 60 different countries, broken up into four collections: African, Asian, Latin-American and European art. Nowhere else in south-eastern Europe can you find such a showcase of important and diverse works as at the Center for Contemporary Art of Montenegro. There are also two smaller galleries that belong to the Center, the Perjanicki Dom and the Centar, which are used for specific exhibitions and cultural events.
The Miodrag Dado Djuric art gallery was opened in Cetinje only a short time ago, in 2012, but it will certainly play a major role in the promotion of Montenegrin art internationally: it is the biggest art gallery in Montenegro, with a 1,600 square-metre exhibition space distributed over four floors, and presents works by contemporary artists created between the first half of the 20th century and today. The gallery can be found in one of the tallest and most modern buildings of the city, and is named after Miodrag Djuric, a great Yugoslav painter better known by the nickname Dado.
Founded in the 1990s, Pizana Gallery exhibits works by young Montenegrin artists who express their vision in different forms, including painting (Tadija Janičić, Milena Durutović, Milka Vujović), graphics (Biljana Keković, igor Rakčević) and sculpture (Željko Reljić, Ivanka Prelević-Vana), or a combination of these; but exhibitions of major artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol have been presented in the past as well. The gallery has acted as a creative hub and starting point for a range of cultural initiatives, and keeps itself busy by presenting the works of its artists in local and international art fairs. Pizana gallery has two different exhibition spaces in Montenegro: a 200 square-meter one in the capital, Podgorica; and another in the smaller city of Tivat.
The Modern Gallery of Budva is a museum of modern and contemporary art. It was founded in 1972, and since the first exhibition held that year, all the exhibited artists have donated at least one piece to the institution. In fact, Budva’s Modern Gallery has accumulated the whole of its current collection in this manner, and only rarely purchases art. Today, the Modern Gallery possesses about four hundred art pieces, grouped into five separate collections: the Collection of Contemporary Expressionists, the International Fine Art Collection, the National Art Collection, the Collection of Local Artists and the Naïve Art Collection. The featured artists include many respected Yugoslav figures, such as Nikola Graovac, Milan Konjović, Ljuba Popovic and Olja Ivanjicki.
In Croatian, ‘most’ means bridge. The name is certainly fitting, as this contemporary art gallery located in Podgorica acts as a bridge between different art forms and artists. Over the almost twenty years that have passed since its foundation in 1994, the gallery has presented more than 300 individual and collective exhibitions, including ones of prominent Yugoslav artists such as Dado Djuric and Dimitrije Popovic. But around the art exhibitions, which remain at the core of Most’s activity, a whole cultural centre was built, a place where painting and sculpture can dialogue with other arts such as cinema, theatre and multimedia, and that contributes to the promotion of the arts through events and publications.
The Atelje DADO Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Cetinje, the historical capital of Montenegro. The gallery mostly presents exhibitions of regional artists working with a wide range of artistic forms, from painting to sculpture, from photography to video. After all, the council responsible for the gallery’s programme includes members from diverse artistic fields: a photographer, a graphic designer and two art historians. But DADO gallery also defines itself as a centre for the promotion of contemporary art by organising workshops, lectures, and conferences.
The Velimir Lekovic art gallery is housed within Bar’s Cultural Centre, which also features a cinema, a library, a museum and the ruins of the old town. The Velimir Lekovic gallery offers both individual and collective exhibitions of contemporary artists, presented in two modern exhibition spaces, each measuring 300 square-meters. Past installations have included sculpture, drawing and painting by both Montenegrin and international artists such as Gregory Eltringham, Laura Mosquera and Adam Cvijanovic.
The Art Museum of Montenegro is located in Cetinje. It was born as an art gallery in 1950, and changed its status in the 1970s when its collection expanded. Today, the museum numbers about 2,800 pieces. Along with a number of artworks classified by genre (frescoes, icons, fine arts, etc.), the Art Museum presents selected works by a number of individual artists: Milica and Svetozar Mukanovic, Milo Milunovic, Peter Lubarda, Branko Filipovic, Dado Djuric. A number of the artists featured of Yugoslav or Montenegrin origin; in fact, the Art Museum constitutes one of the most prominent displays of the region’s historical art.
The Josip Bepo Benkovic art gallery is located in Herceg-Novi, a beautiful coastal town at the entrance to the bay of Kotor. The gallery has an exhibition space of 100 square-meters, and holds a permanent collection of over 200 pieces – paintings, sculptures and prints. Although individual exhibitions are often held, the Josip Bepo Bekovic gallery is particularly renowned for the Winter Salon, an annual initiative started in 1967, which presents works from different artists collectively. Initially, the Winter Salon only showcased the works of Yugoslav artists, but as its prestige grew, international artists began to participate as well. One of the gallery’s rooms is dedicated to the memory and works of Joisp Bepo Benkovic, a Yugoslav artist executed in 1943 after whom the gallery is named. A special collection of 50 images by painter Milene Sotre is also on view.
42° Gallery is the Cetinje Faculty of Fine Arts exhibition space, where students learn painting, sculpture and graphic arts. The gallery, modern in design and extending across 70 square-meters, is located within the Art Exploration Centre 42°, a venue for the promotion of contemporary art practices which also comprises a library. Visit 42° Gallery for new, fresh work created by the young students of Cetinje’s Faculty of Fine Art.