An exhibition marking 200 years of portraiture in the Czech lands gets underway at Prague Castle today. The curators have brought together exquisite works by the nation’s most celebrated painters, covering all major genres and movements up to the present day. I went along for a special tour ahead of the official opening.
The early 20th century naïve painter and sketch artist Robert Guttmann, in whose honour the exhibition gallery of the Jewish Museum in Prague is named, was famous in his day. Mainly due to his striking appearance, eccentric manner and extensive travels – often on foot – in promotion of the nascent Zionist movement. A fixture in Prague cafés and bars, where he sold his art for pocket change, “the Professor”, as he was known, was among the most photographed and caricatured personalities in Czechoslovakia. Yet few know his story today.
Toyen’s oil-on-canvas Black Paradise from 1925 sold to an anonymous
bidder for 31.6 million crowns in an auction at the Kodl art gallery in
Prague on Sunday. The starting price was 18 million crowns.
It is the second highest sum paid for a Toyen painting after the author’s Twilight in Rainforest which sold for 36 million two years ago. Other works auctioned off included Antonín Procházka‘s Tray, Josef Čapek’s Red Motorcycle and Mikuláš Medek’s Thirsty Angel.
Prague’s Lennon Wall has a new face and will newly serve as an open-air gallery. The famous tourist attraction, which before the Velvet Revolution served as a symbolic location of unofficial anti-communist protest, underwent a month-long revamp after being vandalised with vulgar graffiti. Prague authorities vowed to officially designate the Lennon Wall as a memorial site. Its new look was unveiled to the public on Thursday afternoon.
A painting by František Kupka, a pioneer of the abstraction movement and
master of symbolism, sold at auction in Prague on Saturday for 16 million
crowns, Miloš Svoboda of the European Arts auction told the Czech News
The 1907 oil on canvas, called Pískaři na Seině (Sand Workers on the Seine), complete with the auction house’s fee will cost the new owner a total of nearly 20 million crowns.
Kupka's paintings have been one of the most expensive to be auctioned in Prague for several years now.
An oil painting by Oscar Kokoschka entitled Prague – View from the
Monastery of the Knights of the Cross with a Red Star was auctioned off for
78.5 million crowns on Sunday, the most paid for any single painting in
auction, according to Alena Havlíková from the Adolf Loos Apartment and
Kokoschka painted the oil on canvas in the late summer of 1934 and it is considered the best of his Prague views. His depiction of Charles Bridge (1934) is in the National Gallery in Prague, while his Hradčany and Petřín (1936) are part of the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.
The works of one of the most important painters of the 20th century rarely appear at auctions, so its appearance at a Prague auction was a rare opportunity for art collectors.
As tributes to the late Czech singer Karel Gott pour in from at home and abroad following news of his death on Wednesday, the Kodl Art Gallery in Prague has announced it is putting one of the singer’s paintings up for action. Although Karel Gott was an amateur, self-taught painter interest in it is expected to be huge.
Peter Sis’s On Flying and Other Dreams is one of the exhibitions of the year in Prague. It places in a fresh context five books focused on freedom by the US-based author and illustrator, including The Wall – Growing up Behind the Iron Curtain, The Three Golden Keys and Robinson. The show was conceived by the team of Michaela Šilpochová, Leoš Válka, Ivana Brádková at venue DOX, and at the opening I asked Sis what he had made of their approach.
The Czech cultural scene is celebrating the 100th birthday of art collector
and philanthropist Meda Mládková.
Mládková spent more than half of her life in exile, mostly in the United States. In 1968 she and her husband Jan established a collection of Czech and Central European art which she brought to the US from behind the Iron Curtain.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Meda Mládková returned to Czechoslovakia and donated her entire collection to the country. In 1999 she started a foundation which acquired Sovovy Mlýny, a historic building a few hundred meters from Charles Bridge in Prague, and transformed the building into a thriving art museum.
The celebrations of her 100th birthday started in June with the premiere of a film about her life and the public can now view an exhibition called Ambassador of Art showing her personal belongings and memorabilia from her home in Washington, which was a frequent meeting place of politicians, intellectuals and artists.