Slovenia holds a place of a unique art movement called Forma viva. Since the 1960’s, four towns, located mainly on the periphery of the country, have periodically hosted famous sculpture symposiums for artists from all over the world.
Through the years, its organization has grown in complexity, but it has always been impressively systematic; and in a way–with its durability and representation of international art work–it showcases world development of sculpture art.
Original venues of Forma viva are Seča near Portorož and Kostanjevica na Krki–where symposium started in 1961, followed by Ravne na Koroškem (1964) and finally Maribor (1967).
Nature of art works and thus the materials and artists’ methods are neatly distributed among these four locations, they are also characterized by essence of each specific landscape or town and its history.
In Portorož, sculptors carve stone from Istrian quarries, and in Kostanjevica, they carve oak wood from nearby forest called Krakovska hosta. From natural elements to industrial substance: in Ravne, artists coupled with workers from iron factory to create steel sculptures that are in accordance with town’s metallurgical tradition. Similarly in Maribor–sculptors joined forces with experts from leading construction companies and designed majestic concrete sculptures in line with urban city development.
There is another enchanting difference between Forma viva venues.
In Portorož and Kostanjevica, sculptures are placed in a special park; one is set on Seča peninsula, surrounded by beautiful coastal flora and bathing in warm Mediterranean sun. The other is located to the background of magnificent Cistercian monastery on one side and is surrounded by green undulating hills on the other. (Due to the multitude of sculptures and subsequent lack of space, Forma viva has already broken the confines of Portorož and Kostanjevica parks and moved on to town streets.–Ed.)
In both parks–open-air galleries–Forma viva statues live a quiet, tranquil life, perhaps even a little secluded, but in no way closed off to the public. On the contrary. The main principle of Forma viva has always been accessibility to the public, with emphasis on the interrelation between people and art.
This all the more applies to Ravne and Maribor. Here, instead of being placed in the park, sculptures are dispersed all over town–they serve as part of urban equipment, embellishing city streets.
The initiators of Slovenian sculpture symposium which started in 1961 were Slovenian sculptors Janez Lenassi and Jakob Savinšek, who took part in Austrian symposium in St. Margarethen quarry a couple of years earlier. They brought the idea to Slovenia–and Yugoslavian political and art milieu were very keen on the concept of gathering of world sculptors and enabling them to create art in the company of peers.
Symposiums in Portorož, Kostanjevica, Ravne, and Maribor have been occurring in different time intervals; they were organized annually or biannually or underwent longer breaks. They are still alive in Portorož and Kostanjevica today! Forma viva Maribor ended in 1986 and the last symposium in Ravne was in 2014.
The name Forma viva, i. e. “living form”, embodies the gist of the symposium and sculptures–durability and longevity of this art movement and prominent presence of statues in their distinctive surroundings. Forma viva is still in good shape.
Slovenian readers are welcome to read my detailed contribution on Forma viva in all four venues here: https://maligaj.wordpress.com/2022/12/11/forma-viva/.
Sources and further reading
• Stane Bernik, Prostori Forme vive, in: Forma viva 1961–1981 (ed. Stane Bernik, Špelca Čopič), 1983, p. 15–27. [In Slovene and English.]
• Majda Božeglav-Japelj, Muzejski parki sodobnih skulptur: Pogled na portoroško Formo vivo ob izbranih primerih iz Italije, in: Annales, Ser. hist. sociol., 19/2, 2009, p. 353–366.
• Emilijan Cevc, Forma viva: Problem ureditve, in: Sinteza 2, 1965, p. 11–18.
• Marjeta Ciglenečki, Forma viva Maribor 1967–1986: O kiparskih simpozijih po Evropi in v Sloveniji, in: Acta historiae artis Slovenica 22/1, 2017, p. 137–164.
• Špelca Čopič, Forma viva: Mednarodni simpozij kiparjev, in: Sinteza 2, 1965, p. 1–10.
• Špelca Čopič, Kiparstvo na simpozijih Forma viva, in: Forma viva 1961–1981 (ed. Stane Bernik, Špelca Čopič), 1983, p. 31–42. [In Slovene and English.]
• Breda Kolar Sluga, Forma viva Maribor 1967–1986, 2009 (brochure).
• Vojko Močnik, Ravne: Mesto Forme vive, 2006 (brochure).
• Marjan Vidmar (Uvodna beseda), in: Mednarodni simpozij kiparjev Forma viva 1965/66, 1966, p. 6–9. [In Slovene and English.]
Forma viva online
Part of Forma viva Portorož: https://www.obalne-galerije.si/forma-viva/vodic-po-parku/.
All of Kostanjevica sculptures are presented here: https://www.galerija-bj.si/forma-viva/udelezenci.
Read everything about Forma Viva Ravne: https://fvr.si/domov.html.
Find Forma viva Maribor here: http://www.mariborart.si/pot/-/article-display/forma-viva.