As soon as traveling to foreign countries becomes safe again, Art Market Magazine recommends a trip to Serbia's capital, Belgrade. A travel book by our very own journalist, Ida Salamon, has just been published by Falter Verlag. Let us discuss Belgrade – Walking, Seeing & Enjoying.
Art Market: Dear Ida, it's a pleasure to have you as an interviewee! Let's talk about your latest book.
It features some of the must-visit spots of the fabulous city of Belgrade. At the moment, the book is only available in German, but I'm sure it will be translated to English soon enough. The book is derived from your extreme knowledge of and experience in Art and architecture.
It presents a personal point of view on the historical stories, monuments, museums, and art collections in this magical city. What lead you to write the book?
Ida Salamon: I was born and raised in this exciting city with an admirable history and splendid places to visit. I love the city; it is brave, defiant, noble, neglected, mystic, and radiant. My intention was to bring all of these aspects closer to the readers.
A. M.: What monuments and attractions could be of special interest to Art Market readers?
I. S.: At these extraordinary times, the National Museum in Belgrade is one place in the world where you can enjoy masterpieces of outstanding beauty at a minimal distance of three meters between visitors, even before it was necessary. Furthermore, you can admire Pablo Picasso, Van Gogh, Peter Paul Rubens, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Auguste Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec, Piet Mondrian and many others, each Sunday for free. If you manage to combine this with an excellent brunch in the hotel nearby with someone you love, it could make just a perfect day for you!
A. M.: Where would you start a perfect day in Belgrade?
I. S.: Definitely at The National Museum, which was founded in 1844. It is located on the Republic Square in the very center of the city. This was where the famous former Belgrade café Dardaneli was located at the time where the then cultural and artistic elite got together. In 1903 on this site of the former coffee house, the building for the administration of the National Bank was originally erected. Still, later the National Museum moved into this beautiful Renaissance palace and finally opened in 1952. After a decade of renovations, the Museum re-opened again in 2018 with a new permanent exhibition.
The exhibition of European and Serbian paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries is particularly valuable. One of the most exciting collections of modern French painting is the legacy of the Jew Erih Šlomovic, a friend and assistant to a French art dealer, gallery owner, and publisher, Ambroise Vollard. Šlomovic, who as a boy lived in Belgrade several streets away from the place where the Museum stands today, read Vollards book and wrote him an admirable letter in French, upon which he was soon to receive an answer from Vollard, inviting him to visit. In the 1930s, Vollard hired Šlomovic as his personal secretary. They became inseparable friends, and the art dealer later left him part of his famous collection, which Šlomovic completed after meeting the greatest artists of Impressionism and Postimpressionism.
A. M.: How does the story of Erih Šlomovic end?
I. S.: This story, which begins like a fairy tale, unfortunately, ends in hell. After the beginning of World War II, Šlomovic packed the works of Art in specially made aluminum boxes and moved to a Serbian village, hoping that the Germans would not track him and that he could save the collection. The Nazis found Šlomovic and shot him, together with his father and brother. His mother traveled to that village in 1944 to find out what had happened to her loved ones. There, she found the wife of her younger son and the collection of her eldest.
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