Foreword

The Scope

This book represents my humble attempt to collect all available information on the activities of the foreign painters, illustrators, graphic artists, sculptors and art photographers who visited Macedonia and created a Work of Art inspired by the land, culture, tradition, nature, and historical events of Macedonia and the Macedonian Ethnicities in the period between 1850 and 1950.

The term Work of Art specifies common fine art products: an oil painting; ink, chalk, pencil, gouache or pastel drawing; gouache; watercolor; hand-made illustration; art photography; engraving, etching; woodcut; linocut, dry needle; serigraphy, lithography, sculpture, etc.

The term Macedonia refers mainly to the geographical region of Macedonia including:

  • The territory of modern-day Republic of North Macedonia
  • Aegean Macedonian (today Greece) in the regions around the cities of Thessaloniki, Florina, Kastoria, Kilkis, Smol, Serrai, Edessa, Drama, Sobotsko and surrounding villages
  • Pirin Macedonia (today Bulgaria) in the regions of Blagoevgrad, Petric, Nevrokop and surrounding villages.
  • Little Prespa, Golo Brdo, Pustec and Pogradec (today Albania) regions around Ohrid and Prespa lakes

The term Macedonian Ethnicities specifies all ethnic groups that lived in the territory of above-specified Macedonia region between 1850 and 1950, namely: ethnic Macedonians, Albanians, Turks, Vlachos, Serbians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Gypsies, Muslims of non-Turkish origin, Jews, etc.

This lexicon excludes the following group of artists:

  • The artists who did not visited the Macedonia region, yet made a work of art related to Macedonia either based on photography, story or other work of art by another artist. For example, several foreign artist and illustrators made a newspaper; book or journal illustrations (drawings or watercolors) based either on photos taken in Macedonia or free artistic interpretation of the story, without actual visit to the region.
  • The artist who painted Macedonian ancient events, legends and/or persons, (like Alexander the Great or the ancient Macedonian Kingdome, the first Serbian kings etc.).
  • Icon & Fresco painters
  • Newspaper or magazine journalists, writers, politicians and ethnologists who traveled through and wrote about the Macedonian region in this period.
  • Artists who are born and raised in Macedonia, but later immigrated to another country (this will be a subject of another study).

The Motivation

The one-hundred-year Macedonian period of 1850-1950 is my strongest focus of interest mainly because of two reasons: artistic and historical.

From the artistic point of view, this is the period of explosion of different art styles and movements. The period started with the European Romantic School and the Orientalists. Later, the art expression moved toward impressionism, fauvism, expressionism, and ended in cubism. It is extremely interesting to see the artistic interpretation of the Macedonian themes in each of these styles.

The artistic inspirations were the same: the foreign artists were mesmerized by the variety of the colors of the folk clothes, the exotic traditional scenes of the daily life in this newly discovered land and its authentic architecture and landscape. But the results of the artistic capture of such inspirations are wonderfully variable.

If we make a closer look on the art movements in this century starting from 1850, we can see that in the first decades from 1850, we witness exotic watercolors, drawings and engravings of the French, Italian and British orientalists, which were focused mainly on the Ottoman mystical culture. Macedonia was the last European uncharted territory, place that is pure and untouched from the European decadence, which in the eyes of the orientalists was full of excitements and adventures.

Later, at the dusk of the 19th century, the orientalists were replaced by the impressionists. Instead of a romanticized picture, they tried to capture daily moments of the village and city life to grasp the spirit of the region or a historical moment. Their works of art are like windows into our past that gives an exciting sensation of a direct contact with our heritage.

The 20th century started with great hopes and expectations but turned rough quickly. Under the influence of the difficult and turbulent years before, during and after the Great War; the art evolved toward an expression of a personal emotions, frustrations and feelings. The same phenomenon happened also in the works of the foreign painters in Macedonia. The Macedonian landscapes painted by the foreign expressionists becomes a reflection of their inner spiritual stat, it mixes and transforms into their personal message and state.

. The years after the Great War and until the Second World War dominated with the influence of French and German modernistic schools. This influence was brought in Macedonia mainly by the foreign painters who studied art either in Paris or Munich and visited the region in the 1920-1940.

The end of this one-hundred period brings the traces of Cubism in Macedonia, and the post-World War Two political situation also brings examples of socialistic realism.

From the historical point of view, the period of 1850-1950 was the most dynamic period of the Macedonian history. The events in the region were changing in a great speed – the decline and the fall of the centuries-old Ottoman Empire; the national liberation movements; the Balkan wars, the Great War; the creation of the Balkan states; the Second World War and the liberation.

These historical events have brought all these foreign painters to us – the painters visited Macedonia either on their own initiative triggered by their curiosity, or they were forced to visit the region due to their professional or military duty. The early Orientalists tried to explore the last uncharted European territories and experience the last bits of the Ottoman mystique. The decay of the Ottoman Empire, the sequence of bloody rebellions and the Balkan wars triggered the interest of the western public. Many western impressionists and illustrators paid a visit to Macedonia mainly driven by their anthropological, political or human interest in the region. In the early 1900s, they painted the mesmerizing Macedonian landscape and analyzed the complex political and social landscape.  The wars brought in Macedonia military painters who glorified and romanticized the military operations of their armies. But the armies brought in Macedonia also painters who as ordinary solders fighting for their lives have captured the war horror. Dressed in different uniforms, their artistic mission was the same – creation of ever-lasting testament for their existence in case of their death in the front lines. After every war comes reconstruction. The period after the Great War brought many regional painters as educators or public servants to the Macedonian population in the scope of the new states of the region.

The Search

The selection of the artists listed in this lexicon is based on my personal search of the biographies and works of art created in Macedonia in the period of 1850 -1950. The primary artist selection criteria are based on finding an undisputable link with the Macedonia region and the time period either in:

  • In the certified artist biography.
  • or the title of the work of art.
  • or the description of the work of art.
  • or if the subject of the work of art can be without any doubt linked to Macedonia.

I have performed my personal search in hundreds, if not thousands of Fine Art auction catalogues of prestigious auction houses mainly by using the auction houses web sites, professional art service web sites ( www.artprice.com, www.findartinfo.com, www.auction.fr, www.lot-tissimo.com, www.drouot.com, www.liveauctioneers.com, etc.); fine art lexicons (Thieme-Becker, Benezit, Vollmer, P. Piron,  P. Scheen, Yugoslav Art Encyclopedia etc.…) museum and university archives (for example Royal Imperial War Museum, London, Museum Louvre, Paris, National and University Library of Croatia, Harvard University Library, and many more), Wikipedia, specialized art history web sites exhibition catalogues and collection description of prestigious fine art galleries where the correctness of the authenticity and the description is guaranteed. Last but not the list, I have contacted some of the painter families to get more detailed information.

The identification of the painters that visited the Macedonia region is extremely difficult task, mainly due to the complex historical and political circumstances related to the Macedonian region.

First, the information is scarce and dispersed. The Macedonian region has always been partitioned and administered by different parties with different interests in the region. The art heritage of the region was a subject of censorship, adaptation, assimilation or annihilation of the powers who ruled and controlled portions of the Macedonian region. Often the different sides that controlled the Macedonian region were in a direct conflict. There wasn’t and still there isn’t a central register of information. On the contrary, in the order to get a complete and integral view of the topic, one needs to search different sources and combine the whole picture.

            Second, books and art lexicons use different names and descriptions for the Macedonian region and the Macedonian geographical idioms. For example, the while region is referred by different names:  Macedonia, Turkey in Balkan, Ottoman Empire, Balkan, Rumelia, or simply Turkey or Bulgaria or Greece or Serbia – referring to the state which controlled some part of the Macedonian territory.

Furthermore, each geographical item – a city, village, river, mountain, lake, valley, etc. has at dozen different ethnical names. For example: the today’s city of Skopje has more than 10 different names: Skopje (Macedonian), Skopie (Bulgaria), Shkup, Shkupi (Albanian), Skoplje (Serbian), Uskub or Uskup (Turkish), Skopia (Greek), Skopiye (Romani) and many more. To be even worse, each of these ethnic names is written in many different variations in the Western European languages, or quite often the foreigners made spelling mistakes. At the end, the search scope needs to be further extended. For example, the following names have also been used in the literature for the city of Skopje: Skoplie, Scopie, Scopia, Oeskub, Oeskup, Uskubi, Ueskup, Oeskup, Ushkup, and many, many more…

            This set of searching and acceptance criteria will unfortunately make the artist list incomplete. I suspect that many works of art created in the Macedonian region in the 1850-1900 period are simply described as “Balkan”, “Turkish”, “Ottoman” or “Oriental School”. Such broad description does not give enough credibility to attribute it to the Macedonian region and deeper biographical study is needed to establish a link. This unfortunately results in limitation of the scope on particularly the European Orientalists who were visiting the Macedonian region in the second half of the 19th century. For the period of 1900-1950, many works of art have been entitled with, in my view, wrong description that reflected the current political situation, or artist’s personal perception or the misleading information given to the foreign artist. For example, in many works of art which have been entitled as “Bulgarian”, “Serbian” or “Greek” landscape / village / peasants / persons, can likely be related to a Macedonian subject. Unfortunately, I have not included these works of art and the artists who created them into this Lexicon, because by the time I am writing this book I have not succeeded to establish an undisputable link with the Macedonian region or ethnicities.

The Artist information

The following part of the book contains alphabetical list of the artists. For each artist, only the basic biographical data is given. The purpose of this lexicon is not to give an extensive artist biography, but rather identification and listing of the artist names. The main goal of this lexicon is to identify as many as possible visiting artists. If the subject is interesting to the professional art historians, they can make deeper study on the identified artists from this list.

Nevertheless, for each artist in this lexicon, I tried to collect as much as possible information about artist’s stay in Macedonia (the time period, the places, the context of artist’s visit, etc.). Furthermore, for each artist, the list of his/her works of “Macedonian” art is given together with the source of information and a photography of the work of art (if available)

What Next?

I see this book as a beginning. A deeper study into this subject can spark cooperation across various State archives or Art historians of the Macedonian region. I am confident that the Greek, Bulgarian. Macedonian, Albanian, Serbian and the Turkish art history experts can cooperate and conduct a joint research in this domain. Such study will, in my view, enhance the sharing of the Macedonian heritage in which all the ethnic groups that live in the Macedonian region are proud of. The fine art is something that unites and gives focus. And that is something that Macedonian region needs today.

Certainly, professional art historians and art experts can go into a deeper study of the Macedonian period of each of the listed artists in this book. It would be very interesting to see how the events and the period of the stay in Macedonia affected the life and the work of these artists. I leave this job to the experts.