Text topic: Visual Art as a Mass Communication Medium
Text author: Јасмина Трајков
Shaping the national identity in the 19th century led to the constitution of the national pantheon where, in addition to the heroes of the past, were also the heroes of a new era. In the formation, upkeep and expansion of the cult of national heroes, the roles of art and visual culture were very important. The heroes were made known all over the nation through artistic representation. Mass audience did not require a representative art and therefore the possibility of serial and industrial duplication of images of national heroes and important historical events were of particular importance in the construction of a private national identity. As the hero of letters, who distinguished himself in fighting for the Serbian language, Branko Radičević became one of the most celebrated Serbian poets. As Radičević died in Vienna, an essential moment in the process of heroization of this poet was the transfer of his body to Stražilovo, where he was buried and his tomb became a place of memory and pilgrimage. A big public ceremony was organized during the transfer of the body and the funeral, accompanied by the inevitable artistic production of his portraits in various media, intended for mass audiences. Among these works, the greatest popularity came with the painting Branko and the Fairy from 1878, which became a patriotic icon and part of the decoration of many houses in Vojvodina. Although it does not belong to representative art in which one can simultaneously monitor the cultivation of the cult of national heroes, Branko and the Fairy and its replicas and variants present in the mass media were part of the art and visual culture of the 19th century nationalism. They were in the service of building national consciousness and creation of national entity that was organized and shaped by a set of images of the glorious past, heroes, people and territory. Visually shaped messages of such works reach general public in order to permanently store the hero in the collective consciousness.