Collegium Artisticum

Collegium Artisticum was the name of a group of avant-garde artists who were active in Sarajevo during the early years of WWII, from January 1939 until early 1941.

At that time, BiH was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and young intellectuals and leftists were returning from universities elsewhere in Europe.

Inspired by Prague theater leader, E. F. Burian, they created the Synthetic Theater, a branch of the Sarajevo Philharmonic that breathed new cultural life into the city.

Founded by Vojo Dimitrijević (painter), Oskar Danon (conductor), Ana Rajs (choreographer, ballerina) and Jahiel Finci (architect), the group attracted hundreds of artists and intellectuals like Daniel Ozmo, Matusja and Emerik Blum, Roman Petrović, Mica Todorović....

Numerous cultural activities

They warned of the growing danger of fascism and promoted multiculturalism at concerts, lectures, plays and exhibits and published the first comic strip in BiH, Seoba Slavena, drawn by Ismet Mujezinović and written by Zija Dizdarević.

Their first major performance, An Evening of Music, Movement and Folk Poetry, was given in 1939 in Sokolski Dom (now FIS) and an exhibit venue, Salon Slika, was set up in the foyer. The events drew a large attendance and police were sent to supervise.

In February 1941, more than 100 people participated in the production of the play, Zašto Plače Mala Ema, which was based on Norbert Fried’s story, Pobuna u Pisaćem Stroju . For a climax, enormous dancing typewriter keys spelled out the slogan, Death to Fascism.

Pro-fascist police soon stopped the group from working and searched the apartments of its members, who were accused of belonging to an illegal communist cell.

During the War

Antifascists were arrested as soon as the war started so most members of the group joined the Partisans. Some members like Daniel Ozmo, Zija Dizdarević, Bencion Danon and Irena Kajon perished in the concentration camps, Jasenovac and Jadovno.

After WWII, the members founded ULUBiH (Association of Artists), ULUPBiH (Association of Applied Artists and Designers) and AABiH (Association of Architects).

Jahiel Finci and Emanuel Šamanek led a project to find a suitable gallery space. Located on the corner of Kralja Tomislava (now Koševo) and Titova, the Prvi Umjetnički Paviljon  served its purpose until 1974, when it was demolished.

On April 6, 1975, the 30th Anniversary of the Liberation of Sarajevo in WWII, Collegium Artisticum was opened in KSC Skenderija to replace the Paviljon and the group’s name and ideals continue to flourish.

Over the decades, the gallery has organized many arts events, including the April 6th exhibition, a collective event for members of the associations, which has been held every year except from 1992 to 1998.

The gallery now serves as an organizational unit for Sarajevo Canton’s Center for Culture.