Bogdan Bogdanović: Wikis


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Bogdan Bogdanović
Personal information
Name Bogdan Bogdanović
Birth date August 20, 1922 (1922-08-20) (age 87)
Birth place Belgrade, Yugoslavia
Alma mater University of Belgrade
Buildings Jasenovac monument
Awards Herder Prize (1997)

Bogdan Bogdanović (Serbian Cyrillic: Богдан Богдановић; born 20 August 1922 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, today Serbia) is a Serbian architect, urbanist and essayist. He taught architecture at the University of Belgrade, where he also served as dean. He wrote numerous articles about urbanism, especially about its mythic and symbolic aspects, some of which appeared in international media (El País, Svenska Dagbladet, Die Zeit, etc.). He was also involved in politics, as a partisan in World War II, later as mayor of Belgrade. When Slobodan Milošević rose to power and nationalism gained ground in Yugoslavia, Bogdanović became a dissident.[1][2]

His main works are monuments built in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In particular, the monumental concrete sculpture in Jasenovac gained international attention.[3][4]



Bogdanović was born into a family of leftist intellectuals. His father Milan was a literary critic, president of the Union of Writers and director of the National Theatre.[5] Beginning in 1940, Bogdan studied architecture at the University of Belgrade. He participated in World War II ("a bit" in his words[5]) as a partisan and was seriously wounded in eastern Bosnia. Despite his injuries, he continued his academic career with his graduation (1950), as a teaching assistant at the department for urbanism (from 1953), later docent (1960), extraordinary professor and president of the Yugoslavian Union of Architects (1964), dean of the faculty of architecture and corresponding member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (1970), and full professor (1973). In 1981, he left the Academy, and he was conferred emeritus status in 1987.[6]

From 1982 to 1986, he was mayor of Belgrade. During this time, he organised an international competition for the complete rebuilding of New Belgrade. All submissions to this competition have disappeared.[6]

After his term of office, he was appointed by Milošević as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. He accepted under the condition that he would not attend the meetings because he "had more important things to do"[7]. In the following year, he sent Milošević an anti-nationalist letter of over 60 pages, containing a Stalino-dictionary satirising the recipient's nationalist diction, and the famous lamentation for Serbia on the theme of "Serbia is tired" (of his leaders). The Central Committee replied, "You can send the letter, in which you criticise the work of the eighth meeting and which has not reached us, to the Central Committee if you consider it necessary".[8] The letter, in combination with other remarks about Milošević, lead to attempts of breaking into Bogdanović's apartment, threats of lynching, and his exclusion from the Central Committee.[5][9] These aggressions, however, did not prevent him from renewing his anti-nationalist statements when the Yugoslav wars started at the beginning of the 1990s, once more arousing violent attacks and a campaign by the state media.[6]

In 1993, Bogdanović went to Vienna into exile on the initiative of his friend Milo Dor.[1][2]


Our motto was as simple as it was complicated: The beauty and the meaning of an architectonic sign can only be apprehended and explained in the all-encompassing sense of a wholeness expanded to a novel. It appears to me that the wise and noble starting point of our beautiful and placid erstwhile games, today, on this side of hate and cruelty, can hardly be imagined.
—Bogdanović in Der verdammte Baumeister[10] about the "village school"

At the University of Belgrade, Bogdanović held the lecture course The development of housing schemes (later called History of town), starting in 1962. As professor and dean, he tried to reform the teaching of architecture and introduce grassroots democracy at the university, but the party forced him to abdicate before he could put his plans into practice.[6]

In 1976, he began to teach in an abandoned village school in Mali Popović near Belgrade to realise an alternative project, namely his "village school for the philosophy of architecture".[1][2] The course was called Symbolic forms in allusion to Ernst Cassirer. 14 years later, when henchmen of Milošević raided the school in the aftermath of Bogdanović's letter, much of the collected material – the documentation of the lessons, drawings, audio- and videotapes, optical devices – was destroyed.[11]


The architectonic and literary work of Bogdanović is characterised by an abundance of ornaments. It is influenced by Romanticism and Victorian architecture. Bogdanović has opposed the architectural theories of Adolf Loos developed in the essay Ornament and Crime, and argued for the "semantic dignity of the ornamental sign".[12]



Jasenovac monument (the Flower of Stone), Jasenovac Memorial Park
Shrine to the fallen freedom fighters, Vlasotince

In 1952, Bogdan Bogdanović won a competition for the design of a memorial to the Jewish victims of fascism.[5] From then on until 1981, he was assigned by Tito to devise more than 20 monuments and memorial places against fascism and militarism.[3] Resulting directly from his personal experiences in World War II, they were erected in all republics of Yugoslavia. To work as cenotaphs for all victims of fascism, regardless of nationality and religion, they lack any symbols of communism or other ideologies. Instead, they rely on archaic, mythological forms. All of them are built of stone, shaped by local untrained chisellers whom Bogdanović preferred to ones with formal education, who were inflexible in his opinion. The notable exception, the Jasenovac monument, consists of prestressed concrete, the formwork for which was constructed by shipwrights.[13] Somewhat incongruously, it is known as the Flower of Stone.

Examples of these monuments are:[14]

  • Memorial to the Jewish victims of fascism, Belgrade, 1952
  • Memorial grave to the victims of fascism, Sremska Mitrovica, 1960
  • Group cenotaph to the fallen soldiers of the resistance, Prilep, 1961
  • Symbolical necropolis, Slobodište (near Kruševac), 1965
  • Partisan monument, Mostar, 1965
  • Jasenovac monument, Jasenovac, 1966
  • Memorial cemetery, Leskovac, 1971
  • Group cenotaph, Bela Crkva, 1971
  • Memorial to the fallen soldiers in all wars of liberation, Knjaževac, 1971
  • Shrine dedicated to the Serb and Albanian partisans in the 1941–1945 war, Kosovska Mitrovica, 1973
  • War grave, Štip, 1974
  • Group cenotaph of victims, Travnik, 1975
  • Shrine to the fallen freedom fighters, Vlasotince, 1975
  • Freedom monument, Berane, 1977
  • Dudik memorial park, Vukovar, 1980
  • Memorial area with mausoleum for the warriors, Čačak, 1980
  • Garavice memorial park with cenotaph to the victims of fascism, Bihać, 1981
  • Mausoleum dedicated to the first who died in the anti-Fascist uprisings, Popina (near Vrnjačka Banja), 1981


Bogdanović refused to participate in the planning of national housing estates which looked like "coffins of concrete" to him and had "only two types of windows".[15] Consequently, he built only a single settlement: a housing estate for the hydrotechnical institute "Jaroslav Černi" at the foot of the mountain Avala near Belgrade, finished in 1953. The houses with their surrealistic, old-fashioned style, mostly built of stone, heavily framed windows and oversized chimneys, are deliberately set apart from the unimaginative architecture of Tito's Yugoslavia.[16][17]

Other settlements were planned in great detail, but never really intended to be built. Among those is a town in northern Montenegro, designed for local clients,[15] and a mythological "town at the bottom of the lake (Biograd)" which Bogdanović designed for himself.[18]

Other works of architecture

Other works of architecture include the reconstruction of the villa of Queen Natalija (Smederevo, 1961) and Adonis' altar (Labin, 1974).[14]


Of the essays written by Bogdanović, the following is available in English:

  • Town and town mythology. Housing and planning conference papers. 5. The Hague: International Federation for Housing and Planning. 1971. LCCN 77-374894.  

Books and essays in Serbo-Croatian include:[6][19]

  • Mali urbanizam [Little urbanism]. Belgrade/Zagreb: Narodna Prosvjeta. 1958.  
  • Urbanističke mitologeme [Urbanistic mythologemes]. Belgrade: Vuk Karadžić. 1966. LCCN 68-109766.  
  • Urbs & logos: ogledi iz simbologije grada [Urbs and logos: essays on the symbolism of town]. Niš: Gradina. 1976. LCCN 77-457636.  
  • Gradoslovar [Dictionary of town terminology]. Belgrade: Vuk Karadžić. 1982. LCCN 83-111414.  
  • Povratak grifona: crtačka heuristička igra po modelu Luisa Karola [The return of the griffon: a drawing heuristic game modeled on Lewis Carroll]. Belgrade: Jugoart. 1983. LCCN 86-86233117.  
  • Krug na četiri ćoška [The circle on four angles]. Belgrade: Nolit. 1986. ISBN 8619004069.  
  • Mrtvouzice: mentalne zamke staljinizma [Dead ends: mental traps of Stalinism]. Zagreb: August Cesarec. 1988. ISBN 8639301085.  
  • Knjiga kapitela [The book of the capital]. Sarajevo: Svjetlost. 1990. ISBN 8601018874.  
  • Grad kenotaf [Town cenotaph]. Zagreb: Durieux. 1993. LCCN 93-227406.  
  • Glib i krv [Mud and blood]. Belgrade: Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava u Srbiji. 2001. ISBN 8672080491.  
  • Grad i budućnost [Town and the future]. Zagreb: Nakl. Mlinarec-Plavić. 2001. ISBN 9536765004.  

Der verdammte Baumeister. Erinnerungen [The doomed architect. Recollections][2] is a collection of essays, translated into German by Milo Dor.


Bogdanović is a founder member of the International Academy of Architecture which was established in 1987. He is a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Architecture (since 1994), a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts (since 1998), and a member of the Collegium Europaeum Jenense (University of Jena; since 2000).[1][6] In 2002, he was elected an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[20]


Awards and prizes include:[1][6]

  • October Prize of the City of Belgrade (for the memorial in Sremska Mitrovica, 1961)
  • Menção honrosa ("honorable mention" at the São Paulo Art Biennial, 1973)
  • Seventh of July Prize (1979)
  • Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia Prize (1981)
  • Piranesi Prize (1989)
  • Herder Prize (1997)
  • Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art (First Class, 2002)
  • Gold Medal for Meritorious Service to the Province of Vienna (2003)


External links


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