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Albanian art has a long and eventful history. Albania, a country of southeastern Europe, has a unique culture from that of other European countries. The Ottoman Empire ruled over Albania for nearly five centuries, which greatly affected the country’s artwork and artistic forms. After Albania's joining with the Ottoman Empire in 1478, Ottoman influenced art forms such as mosaics and mural paintings became prevalent, and no real artistic change occurred until Albanian Liberation in 1912.
It was not until Albania declared independence from the Ottoman Empire did radical artistic change occur. After Albanian liberation in 1912, Albanian art experienced a patriotic renaissance. Artwork that depicted the historical past reached its height in popularity. Likewise, the country’s continued cultural isolation from Western Europe led artists to focus more on national matters. Sculptures of national icons became popular throughout the country. In 1968, Sculptor Odhise Paskali (with help from fellow sculptors Andrea Mana and Janaq Paço) constructed a monument of Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero, in honor of the 500th anniversary of his death, and it is placed in the center of the capital city of Tirana.
Post-World War II and communism
After World War II, a communist government took rule over Albania, and the artwork that arrived during the communist era reflects its time. Art was censored by the Albanian government and artists were urged to create works that endorsed socialism. During the 1950s and 1960s, the dominant theme of Albanian paintings were the “proletariat,” the backbone of the socialist system. Much of the country's art focused on domestic scenes such as men working in the fields and women feeding chickens. Also landscape scenes were highly popularized by Albanian painters. The Painters Vangjush Mio and Fatmir Haxhiu are most famous for their respective landscape paintings.
Although Albania left communism for democracy in 1991, scholars currently label Albanian artwork under the category of "socialist realism", for its emphasis on portraying real people and situations. Although much of Albanian artwork is influenced by impressionism and expressionism, it is most realist in its depiction of everyday life. Contemporary Albanian artwork captures the struggle of everyday Albanians, however new artists are utilizing different artistic styles to convey this message. Albanian artists continue to move art forward, while their art still remains distinctively Albanian in content.
Though among Albanian artist post-modernism was fairly recently introduced, there is a number of artists and works known internationally. Among most famous Albanian post-modernist are considered Anri Sala, Sislej Xhafa, and Helidon Gjergji.
Other famous contemporary Albanian artists include:
- Ibrahim Kodra
- Catin Saraci
- Andrea Kushi
- Shyqri Nimani
- Kolë Idromeno
- Abdurrahim Buza
- Zef Kolombi
- Vénera Kastrati
- Ndoc Martini
- Vangjush Mio
- Sadik Kaceli
- Sabri Berkel
- Nexhmedin Zajmi
- Spiro Xega
- Gazmend Leka
- Toni Milaqi
- Parid Dule
- Agim Sulaj
- Arthur Tashko
- Abidin Dino
- Shaqir Veseli
- 3 December 2005. Balkan Peninsula Exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, NY.
- Brewer, Bob. My Albania. New York: Lion of Tepelena P, 1992.
- Halliday, Jon. The Artful Albanian. London: Rowland, 1986.
- Pollo, Stefanaq, and Arben Puto. The history of Albania: from its origins to the present day. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981.
- Schwander-Sievers, Stephanie, and Bernd J. Fischer. Albanian Identities. London: Hurst & Company, 2002.
- Winnifrith, Tom. Perspectives on Albania. London: Macmillan, 1992.
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- Hudhri, Ferit. "Fine Arts in Albania: An Outline of Figurative Art in Albania Over the Centuries." Sustainable Economic Development Agency. 2 December 2005 .
- Institute for Auslandsbeziehungen. 20 November 2005 .
- Alb@rt. 20 November 2005 .