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Albanian art is an important part of Albanian culture. With its long and eventful history, art is an important evidence of Albanian identity and history. Albania, a country of southeastern Europe, has a unique culture from that of other European countries. The Albanian art has kept its original elements and has been enriched with Ottoman, Venetian and other Western elements.
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.
The Tirana Biennale is the main contemporary, international art event. Founded in 2001 by Edi Muka, Gezim Qëndro and Giancarlo Politi, it has enjoyed over the years the contribution of many international curators, like Francesco Bonami, Adela Demetja, Massimiliano Gioni, Jens Hoffmann, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Harald Szeemann. Many famous Albanian and foreign Artist are normally invited.
Other famous contemporary Albanian artists include:
- Sabri Berkel
- Abdurrahim Buza
- Abidin Dino
- Kolë Idromeno
- Sadik Kaceli
- Vénera Kastrati
- Ibrahim Kodra
- Zef Kolombi
- Andrea Kushi
- Gazmend Leka
- Ndoc Martini
- Toni Milaqi
- Gjon Mili
- Burim Myftiu
- Vangjush Mio
- Edi Rama
- Anri Sala
- Catin Saraci
- Agim Sulaj
- Arthur Tashko
- Nexhmedin Zajmi
- Spiro Xega
- Shaqir Veseli
- 3 December 2005. Balkan Peninsula Exhibit, Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, NY.
- National Gallery of Figurative Arts of Albania
- List of art galleries in Albania
- Albanian comics
- Albanian music
- Albanian Institute New York
- 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.
- Winnifrith, Tom. Perspectives on Albania. London: Macmillan, 1992.
- Muka, Edi. Albania Today. The Time of ironic Optimism. Milan, Politi Editore, 1997.
- Schwander-Sievers, Stephanie, and Bernd J. Fischer. Albanian Identities. London: Hurst & Company, 2002.
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