Saturday 14 January 2017

Mestrovic in America: 'Living from the Clod of Croatian Soil Attached to his Roots...


Mestrovic in America: 'Living from the Clod of Croatian Soil ...


From My Memories of Meštrović


In December 1948 I sent from Madrid an issue of Croatia Press to Ivan Meštrović. The sculptor who had left Europe in January 1947, was living at that time in Syracuse, New York, at 201 Marshall Street. I sent him the newsletter at the suggestion of friends who told me that Meštrović had seen some earlier issues and would be interested in receiving the bulletin regularly. A month later I received from Meštrović a handwritten letter in Croatian dated January 12, 1949, in which he said:

Thank you for your letter of December 17 as well as for your bulletin Croatia Press.

Your effort is useful and commendable. Carry it on as far as you can. Perhaps our people will be aroused, will come to their senses, and instead of sterile discussions and arguments, will start with something more positive. If that were to happen perhaps your bulletin would expand as Mr. Tijan anticipates.

I wish you my best in the New Year, etc.

After that letter, I exchanged with Meštrović occasional brief communications of no special significance. When in 1952 I immigrated to the United States, and particularly after I visited him in Syracuse in June 1953, our contacts became more frequent.

When I visited him, Meštrović lived at 817 Livingston Avenue. It was an unpretentious but cozy home, which Meštrović's family had made a miniscule Croatian oasis in this provincial American city. I thought how strange it was that he had moved to Syracuse to live. After all, one would recall that in 1924-25 he had spent about nine months in the United States and had exhibitions in New York (Brooklyn Museum), Chicago, Detroit, and other cities; that his two equestrian statues of American Indians have been standing in Grant Park in Chicago since 1928; and that shortly after his arrival in 1947 the Metropolitan's Museum in New York honoured him with its only one-man show of a living artist, an event unprecedented in the museum's history story.

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Journal of Croatian Studies, XXIV, 1983, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.
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