International Conference

French Artistic Culture

In the last decade we witnessed a significant number of discussions on cultural and artistic concepts circulating post-war Europe and challenging the perception of Iron Curtain as an impermeable obstacle to the intellectual exchange between the socialist and capitalist political systems.

A convincing example in that regard is the idea of the synthesis of arts that – after it was (re)conceptualised within the context of French artistic culture at the end of 1940’s and the beginning of 1950’s – spread all over Europe and became highly influential among artists, architects and critics from the East and West alike. Pointing to the shared notion of progress and social modernisation, the idea of synthesis was one amongst the numerous post-war "close encounters" between socialist Europe and French artistic culture that are in the focus of our interest.

Taking into account the ideological and intellectual complexities of cultural translation, which form the basis of these “close encounters”, the objective of the conference is to addresses the question of how different actors in socialist Europe (architects, painters, sculptors, designers, art critics, philosophers, theorists, etc.) have understood and responded to artistic and intellectual concepts and ideas articulated within the context of French post-war culture. More precisely – we are interested in how these concepts and ideas were transformed, redefined and applied to various local projects in order to meet political, ideological and social requirements of a particular historic moment. Interest in practical, as well as theoretical issues, allows us to set up discussions at this conference in the framework of intellectual debates about the New Humanism and humanisation of living environment, about the philosophical currents of the time (Existentialism, West and East European Marxism), and to place them in the context of disputes on aesthetic (political) values of post-war artistic culture. It also allows for the examination of various discourses and spatial concepts that were supporting but also challenging modernist authority-structures.

This conference is the result of three year project Parisian Art Scene and Croatian Modern Art, funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.


Institute of Art History, Zagreb
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb


Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia
Glyptotheque of Croatian Academy of Arts and Science


Milan Pelc
Ljiljana Kolešnik
Petar Prelog
Lovorka Magaš Bilandžić
Tvrtko Jakovina


Ljiljana Kolešnik
Tamara Bjažić Klarin
Sanja Horvatinčić
Sanja Sekelj
Nikola Bojić

For more information and the conference programme visit the website:

Contact: Ljiljana Kolešnik, Sanja Sekelj