MoMA Presents Former Yugoslavia’s ‘Concrete Utopia’ in New Architecture Exhibition

Miodrag Živković. Monument to the Battle of the Sutjeska. 1965–71, Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Miodrag Živković. Monument to the Battle of the Sutjeska. 1965–71, Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina | © Valentin Jeck, commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, 2016

Home & Design Editor

From International Style skyscrapers to expressive Brutalist structures, the Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture of Yugoslavia, 1948-1980 highlights former Yugoslavia’s unique range of architectural forms.

Andrija Mutnjaković. National and University Library of Kosovo. 1971-1982. Prishtina, Kosovo

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City is hostingthe first major US exhibition to examine Yugoslavia’s architecture and civic space. Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture of Yugoslavia, 1948-1980, which runs until January 2019, reveals how architecture was used to create a collective history and enforce a utopian vision for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through imposing Brutalist forms and multifaceted structures from the former country’s post-war years. Six Socialist republics made up former Yugoslavia: Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia.

Miodrag Živković. Monument to the Battle of the Sutjeska. 1965-1971. Tjentište, Bosnia and Herzegovina

“Historically speaking, a thorough investigation of the architectural production of Socialist Yugoslavia will lead to a better understanding of an important but understudied chapter of architectural history in the bifurcated world order of the Cold War,” says Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson chief curator of architecture and design at MoMA, in a press release.

Janko Konstantinov. Telecommunications Center. 1968-1981. Skopje, Macedonia

More than 400 drawings, scale models, photographs, and film reels are featured in the exhibition, including newly commissioned photographs by Valentin Jeck, contemporary artworks by performance and installation artist Jasmina Cibic and multidisciplinary artist David Maljković, and three video installations by filmmaker Mila Turajlić. In its entirety, the show investigates “architecture’s capacity to produce a shared civic space and common history in a highly diverse, multi-ethnic society,” depicting 45 years of the former country’s existence through themes such as large-scale urbanization projects, monuments, and memorialization.

Živa Baraga and Janez Lenassi. Monument to the Fighters Fallen in the People’s Liberation Struggle. 1965. Ilirska Bistrica, Slovenia

“Given the country’s diversity, Yugoslavia’s architects responded to contradictory demands and influences, developing a post-war architecture both in line and distinct from the design approaches seen elsewhere and beyond,” the museum writes in their press release. Toward a Concrete Utopia looks at the global reach of Yugoslav architecture—particularly during the time period between its break with the Soviet bloc in 1948 and Josip Broz Tito’s death in 1980—and how its design became a manifestation of “radical pluralism, hybridity, and idealism.”

Berislav Šerbetić and Vojin Bakić. Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija. 1979-1981. Petrova Gora, Croatia

The exhibition is organized into four main sections, each revealing another complex layer to the cross-ethnic design collaborations that characterized the former Yugoslav state. The first section, ‘Modernization’, examines the rapid post-war urbanization of previously rural areas, which resulted in new construction technologies, including the rise of reinforced concrete structures that came to define Yugoslavia’s Socialist modernity. ‘Global Networks’ examines how newly independent international countries, particularly throughout Africa and the Middle East, influenced design. ‘Everyday Life’ highlights affordable housing and Socialist consumer culture; while finally, ‘Identities’ addresses how architecture was employed to unify Yugoslavia’s multi-ethnic regions, particularly in connection to the anti-fascist partisan movement after World War II.

Uglješa Bogunović, Slobodan Janjić, and Milan Krstić. Avala TV Tower. 1960-1965 (destroyed in 1999 and rebuilt in 2010). Mount Avala, near Belgrade, Serbia

“Modern architecture was a key instrument in the implementation of a utopian vision in a perpetual state of emergence,” writes MoMA. “Many of the featured visionary projects and executed buildings speak to architecture’s aspirational role in terms of both design and social impact.”

Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980 will run from July 15 2018 to January 13 2019 at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article