Early art in Montenegro stems from the larger, more dominant Greek culture. Stone sculptures were spread throughout this small country, but many of them have been destroyed throughout the years due to war and earthquakes. Their karst landscape leads to large deposits of marble. However, their marble tends to not be of the soft quality of other deposits that are preferred for most sculpting purposes.
Handicrafts were also an important part of Montenegrin folk culture. Needlework and other textile art went into decorating the home as well as traditional clothing and costumes. Terracotta bowls and engraving arts were also found around the country.
Montenegrins have long history with painting. It’s one of the arts they gravitated toward as a means of expression to what it means to be a Montenegrin. Artists who wanted to study art seriously often traveled abroad to cities such as Belgrade, Zagreb, Paris, and other art centers in Europe. There, they would learn to hone their skills from the best and bring it back to their country where they would add in a certain Montenegrin flair to their work.
Some of the more notable painters to come from Montenegro—and especially from the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje—include Boris Dragojevic (surrealism, hyperrealism), Milo Milunovic (impressionism, cubism), Dimitrije Popovic (painter, sculptor, art critic), Vojo Stanic (painter, sculptor), Petar Lubarda (painter, art professor), and Dado Duric (illustrator, engraver, sculptor).
Although the official language of this country is Montenegrin, most literature is written in Serbian. Some of the earliest literary works (that we know of) date back to the 12th century with the Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja. During the Renaissance period, the city of Kotor became the center for a revived literary scene.
Montenegro made history when they developed the first state-owned printing house located in the city of Cetinje. This printing press was first put to work in 1494 where Oktoih, the first book in Church Slavonic, was printed. (Incidentally, it was also the first book to be printed in Cyrillic in this area of Europe.) During this time, monasteries were one of the main places that housed manuscripts, mainly because there were only a select group of people who were learned and most came through the church.
Epic folk poetry was a common genre and many poets carved out their own voice and style. One of the more well-known poets was Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. He was most notably known for his epic work “The Mountain Wreath” (1847). He paved the way for other poets such as Jevrem Brkovic, Balsa Brkovic, and Borislav Jovanovic.
There are several authors who have hailed from Montenegro and/or Serbia. Modern literature spans an array of genres and subjects and is typically written in Serbian. A few notable authors to look for include Branimir Scepanovic, Igor Luksic, Dragana Krsenkovic Brkovic, Milovan Djilas, Mirko Kovac, Miodrag Bulatovic, and Borislav Pekic. You can read about these authors and their works in more details here (it’s a great blog for modern world literature).
Up next: music and dance