Since becoming director of the Czech National Gallery three years ago this month, Jiří Fajt has secured exhibitions by major international artists and helped make its numerous buildings in the capital more accessible to the public. Our tour of “his Prague” begins at the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia on the edge of the Old Town. It houses the National Gallery’s impressive medieval collection and was headed by the Prague-born Fajt himself in the late 1990s.
Czech painter and illustrator Karel Franta has died in Prague at the age of 89. Franta was known mainly for his illustrations of children’s books. He won many prizes for them, including the Grand Prix of UNICEF in Frankfurt am Main for the best illustration of 1986. In 1994, he was recognised internationally by being listed on the International Board of Books for Young People. An exhibition of paintings and drawings by Karel Franta is opening this weekend in the north Bohemian town of Lomnice nad Popelkou.
Petra Kvarčáková is one of the few professional milliners in the Czech Republic. She learned the craft in Britain – among others she studied with the legendary milliner of the Queen Mother, Rose Cory. A few years ago, she established her own brand called La Modista- offering tailor-made hats of all kinds of materials and styles. When I met with Petra Kvarčáková, I first asked what attracted her to the millinery craft:
Alphonse Mucha’s monumental series of paintings The Slav Epic should go on show at an exhibition at Prague’s Municipal House some time next year, a spokesperson for the Prague City Gallery said. The paintings have been placed in the gallery’s depositary after returning from an exhibition in Japan’s Tokyo that was seen by over 650,000 people. There are no plans at present to loan the Slav Epic to other cities outside the Czech Republic. Mucha helped create the interiors of the Art Nouveau Municipal House.
A European Parliament building in Strasbourg has been named after the late Czech president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel. A bronze bust of the first Czech president was unveiled at the entrance to the building in the presence of Havel’s wife Dagmar and the head of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani. Visitors were also able to view an exhibition of photos of Václav Havel taken by Tomki Němec. The main conference room in the building is furnished with a tapestry by Czech artist Petr Sís.
The police have refused to act on a complaint by Prague Mayor Jan Čižinský over the Chinese show Body The Exhibition who asked that the human remains on exhibit, which have been plastified and dissected, be buried. The human bodies, some 300, are currently on show at Prague’s Exhibition Grounds. The exhibition, which has travelled worldwide, has previously courted controversy over speculation over the origins of the dissected bodies in China.
The renowned Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek died on Thursday at the age of 91. The news was confirmed by the head of the National Film Archive Michal Bregant. Zoubek is known for numerous important works, including a memorial to the victims of the communist regime at Prague's Újezd. In 1969, Mr Zoubek cast the death mask of student Jan Palach, who used self-immolation to protest against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
As of Wednesday, visitors to Prague have been able to admire a monumental statue by Turner Prize winner Tony Cragg. The bronze object is installed at Náměstí Republiky square in the centre of the city as part of the annual summer festival called Sculpture Line. In all, 22 works by Czech and foreign artists are on view all around the city throughout the summer months.
An ambitious floating exhibition has opened in Prague with the target of at least equalling some of the new style of shows devoted to rock and pop greats such as the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. And who else could be the focus for such a Czech show other than the so-called Golden Voice of Prague or the Sinatra of the East – Karel Gott. The exhibition understandably puts the onus on Gott’s success but also covers some stardom’s costs.
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