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The exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Slovenian-American architect Ivan (John) Jager (1871–1959) highlights the importance of this architect for the Slovenian-American architectural history while at the same time relating to the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture. Architect Jager was able to study architecture at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute through the financial support of his Slovenian patrons, among them Kotnik from Vrhnika and Valenčič from Trnovo. Recognizing that Slovenian technical know-how is crucial for the development of the nation, he returned the goodwill he received from his patrons and helped Slovenian students of architecture and their professors in Ljubljana wherever and whenever he could. Settling permanently in Minneapolis in the United States, he started sending specialised literature to Plečnik’s seminar already before World War II, and after the war to Ravnikar’s seminar.

Jager was man of many interests; he was an architect, urban planner, builder, interior designer, graphic designer, illustrator, landscape architect, innovator, organizer, facilitator, theoretician and philosopher of architecture, author end editor, linguist, anthropologist, student of national art, passionate collector and archivist, consultant, tree planting expert and also beekeeper. It is perhaps this multitude of interests that explains why he was never firmly anchored in one of these fields. The style of his architectural opus ranges from the Secession, interest in national style, to Chinese and Japanese influence and ultimately to modernism and nature-friendly, sustainable development.

The exhibition presents reproductions and partly also originals of the rich body of material from Jager’s estate in Ljubljana, from the Library of the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the archives of the Faculty of Architecture, the Plečnik House and the Museum of Architecture and Design.

Included in the exhibition are handwritings and texts related to architect’s correspondence with Jože Plečnik, Edvard Ravnikar, his patron Valenčič, and others. Specialised literature containing Jager’s notes, which he regularly sent to the students and professors at the Department of Architecture of the Faculty of Technology at the University in Ljubljana are presented for the first time. A highlight of the exhibition is a digital presentation of Jager’s oeuvre, filmed in 2018 during the visit of curator Dr. Bogo Zupančič in Minnesota, where he was able to explore Jager’s American work in situ and archival material at the Northwest Architectural Archives (NAA) of the University of Minnesota.

Jager’s shipments of American architectural books and magazines that helped keep Slovenian students and professors of architecture up to date with architectural developments in the United Stated and in other parts of the world. Throughout his career, Jager worked towards widening the understanding and importance among his American peers of the work of architect Jože Plečnik, whom he liked to call the Slovenian Michelangelo. This is why the Slovenian architecture of the early 20th century was not confined solely to the Central European and/or Mediterranean framework. It is precisely because of Jager’s enormous influence that Plečnik’s work shows traces of Chinese, Japanese and Etruscan and perhaps also American architecture, lending his work the universal framework and global reach needed for the current nomination for the inscription to UNESCO World Heritage List. Jager’s influence is similar in Ravnikar’s work, but in a different manner.

The exhibition is on display from 21st June 2022 until 31st December 2022 at the Technical museum of Slovenia in Bistra.

Curators: Natalija Lapajne, Bogo Zupančič

Photo gallery from the opening

Deli to zgodbo!