“Balkan of 1917” from the Austrian artist Leopold Forstner comes to Tirana

“Balkan of 1917” from the Austrian artist Leopold Forstner comes to Tirana

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, March 4, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The Balkan of nearly 110 years ago has been presented for the first time in Tirana, sparking the interest of many people not only from Albania, but also from other countries of the region.  The exhibition came in the Albanian metropolis with the support of the Austrian Embassy and Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the National History Museum.

“The Balkan of 1917 by the Austrian artist of Modern Art Leopold Forstner” includes 50 photographs, 100 large drawings and many artisanal works from the travels of the Austrian artist of Modern Art, Leopold Forstner.

Leopold Forstner, collaborator of the artist Gustav Klimt has traveled in today’s Albania, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in 1917 and 1918 in the quality of officer of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

Forstner drew portraits of locals, photographed national costumes and collected artisanal objects. His mission was to document the culture of Balkan people during the First World War.

Leopold Forstner, (1878-1936) was much excited about what he saw in the Balkan.  He did many photos with many wearing national costumes standing in front of their stone towers and wood houses, especially in Albanian lands.

But, Leopold Forstner has not only stopped on photographs and portraits of people from the region. He was also part of a group of Viennese avant-garde artists at the start of the 20th century and he has worked with graphic art as a designer and illustrator. He’s also known for his work in glass and mosaic.

Therefore, this exhibition opened in Tirana, clearly shows the exploration that the artist has done to Albania in the historical and geographical aspect.

A painter, illustrator and prominent graphic artist, in 1906, Leopold Forstner created the Mosaic “Weiner Werkstatte”.

An artist who was close to famous artists of that time, such as Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffman, Leopold Forstner is presented in 1908 in the Vienna art stages where he was praised by the public and critics.

Positive feedback for the exhibition

Present in this ceremony were also the Austrian Ambassador, Thomas Schnol, Germany’s Ambassador, Hellmut Hoffmann, Minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro, the director of the National Museum of History, Melsi Labi and other prominent Albanian, Austrian and German art lovers.

The director of the National Museum of History, Melsi Labi, considers this exhibition as very important, because it contains materials which have not been exhibited in the past.

“This exhibition which shows the Balkan of 1917 is very important because it offers to the public photos and drawings never exhibited before”.

Before this exhibition arrived to Tirana, it stopped in Kosovo. In January of this year, 40 photographs from this artist were exhibited for two weeks in “Mother Teresa” cathedral in Pristina. The photos also included maps of Western Balkan from 1915 until 1918, which show troops of the Austrian-Hungarian army in Belgrade on 8 October 1915.

Minister of Culture, Mirela Kumbaro sees this exhibition as a form to show the good relations between the two countries, which according to her, are not only of a cultural nature. “Now we are in stages with no borders, where everyone talks about culture and cultural heritage”, minister Kumbaro says.

Austrian ambassador, Thomas Shnol says that today’s exhibition is an expression of the culture of Balkan from 1917 and 1918. He considered this exhibition as a cultural, historical and educational cooperation. /ibna/

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