The twentieth century was the third period in history that elevated Ljubljana to an active art centre on the Slovenian ethnic territory. This era is marked by artistic trends that originated in the world art centres, while only rarely symptoms of local tradition and continuity can be traced. Although the Expressionists are usually ranked as belonging to the historical avant-garde, it is necessary to distinguish within their group between continuity and radicalism.
The long shadow of Art Nouveau – particularly in the expressionist oeuvres of the brothers Kralj, France and Tone, and some other representatives of this generation who studied in Prague – extends via the expressive pre-WW1 paintings by Fran Tratnik all the way from its hard core with Gustav Klimt and the Wiener Werkstätte of the turn of the century. The artists’ updated formal methods frequently carry on the patterns of allegorical interpretation. Not even Stane Kregar is completely free from it in his Surrealist manner which he adopted in Prague. The dominant line is paralleled by a more promising colour intimism of the older generation with the relationship between the Flowers, Fruit and Jug by Alexey Jawlensky and The Sava by Jakopič.
Colour realism of the 1930s prevailed in the generation or two that came from the Zagreb academy (France Mihelič, Maksim Sedej, early Zoran Mušič, and Gabriel Stupica), and their counterpart Gojmir Anton Kos is an outstanding representative of pure painting which likewise drew on the orthodox premises of Courbet’s and Manet’s realism. Among the sculptors, Frančišek Smerdu belongs to this generation. These representatives, who with authority and teaching zeal settled in the core of the newly established Ljubljana academy, helped to spread modernist trends in the second half of the century, which were all to the end of the 1970s still influenced by the authority of Paris as the principal art centre. Younger artists, such as Marij Pregelj among painters and Jakob Savinšek, Drago Tršar and Stojan Batič among sculptors, belong to this eminent company. Representatives of Italian painting of the 1930s, such as Gino Severini, Giorgio Morandi and Filippo de Pisis, demonstrate that Slovenian art in this century surpassed the limits of regional ambitions as well as achievements.