Czech Modernism, 1900-1945
- Dates: March 2, 1990 through May 7, 1990
- Collections: European Art
January 1990: The first exhibition in America to document the evolution of Czech art during the first half of the 20th century opens at The Brooklyn Museum on March 2, 1990. Entitled Czech Modernism: 1900-1945, the exhibition includes over 100 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper on loan from international collections, with unprecedented loans from the National Gallery of Prague and other Czech museums. It will remain on view in the Museum’s Prints and Drawings Galleries, located on the second floor, through May 7, 1990.
The exhibition was conceived in several sections to include paintings, sculpture, works on paper, film, and photography. In New York the photography section will be presented at the International Center for Photography from March 2 to May 13, 1990, and the films will be shown at the Anthology Film Archives from March 3 through May 1990.
Czech Modernism: 1900-1945 is made possible at The Brooklyn Museum with generous support from the David H. Cogan Foundation in honor of Martha S. Cogan, Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph B. Schulhof, the Macmillan Foundation, and Mr. and Mrs. Jan Hird Pokorny.
The exhibition, organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is sponsored by Lufthansa German Airlines with additional support from Isabell and Max Herzstein, Drexel Bernham Lambert Incorporated, Joan and Stanford Alexander, CRSS, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Prague, the beautiful ancient capital of Bohemia, flourished as an important international crossroads of modern art and culture during the first half of the twentieth century. Its artists were an active part of the European Modernist movement, and as with other parallel movements in Europe like De Stijl in Holland and the German Bauhaus, the Czech avant-garde was interdisciplinary. Filmmakers and painters also worked in photography and sculpture.
Unlike artists of many other European cities, though, most Czech artists working between 1900 and 1945 chose not to become expatriates in the major art centers of Paris, Berlin, Moscow, and New York. Instead, they relied on brief trips abroad, publications, and visitors to Czechoslovakia to inform them of artistic innovations. The result was an art that grew out of the traditions of the Czech homeland, but that also addressed the topical problems of European artistic, social, and political developments.
Despite the brilliant body of work created during this time, Czech art remains relatively unknown to the Western world because of language barriers and political conditions after 1945 that prevented its assimilation into the general knowledge of art history. As other exhibitions have reintroduced the arts of Russia and more recently Scandinavia, so too this exhibition will pay tribute to and document, for the first time in America, this fruitful and complex era of Czech modernism.
The exhibition includes a total of 13 artists, among them Frantisek Kupka, whose radical, abstract paintings are widely recognized as some of the first works of non-objective art, and Zdenek Pesanek, who first introduced neon light into sculpture. Also included are Josef Capek, Emil Filla, Otto Gutfreund, and Bohumil Kubista, who created the uniquely Czech movement of Cubo-expressionism, which combined expressive content with the formal aspects of the Paris cubists.
The exhibition was organized by Anne Tucker, Curator of Photography at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and guest curator Jaroslav Andel. Other curators are Alison de Lima Greene, Associate Curator of Twentieth Century Art, and Ralph McKay, Film Program Director, both at The Museum of Fine Art[s], Houston, and Willis Hartshorn, Director of Exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, New York. Its installation at The Brooklyn Museum is coordinated by Charlotta Kotik, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum.
Czech Modernism: 1900-1945 is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with scholarly essays, co-published by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Little, Brown and Company. The catalogue is funded by an anonymous donor, Gay Block, Betty Moody, and the Vaughn Foundation (208 pages: 139 illustrations, 34 in color; $27.50 softcover, $50.00 hardcover).
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum’s Division of Education has organized four gallery talks to be held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, April 29, and May 6 and on Saturday, April 14. All gallery talks begin at the Information Desk in the Grand Lobby and are free with Museum admission.
January 1990: EXHIBITION: Czech Modernism: 1900-1945
EXHIBITION DATES: March 2 - May 7, 1990
SPONSOR: The exhibition, organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is sponsored by Lufthansa German Airlines with additional support from Isabell and Max Herzstein, Drexel Bernham Lambert Incorporated, Joan and Stanford Alexander, CRSS, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum has been made possible with generous support from the David H. Cogan Foundation in honor of Martha S. Cogan, Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph B. Schulhof, and the Macmillan Foundation. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with the International Center of Photography, New York (March 2 to May 13) and the Anthology Film Archives, New York (March 15 to May 13).
PURPOSE: A major traveling exhibition documenting for the first time in America the years 1900-1945 in Czech art when artists working in Prague were an active part of the European Modernist movement. As with other parallel movements in Europe such as De Stijl in Holland and the German Bauhaus, the Czech avant-garde was interdisciplinary, with filmmakers and painters experimenting with photography and sculpture. Czech art is unique because Czech artists studied and synthesized the most advanced modern concepts and developed their own distinct style without becoming expatriates in the major art centers of Paris, Berlin, Moscow[,] and New York. They relied instead on brief trips abroad, publications[,] and visitors to Czechoslovakia to inform them of artistic innovations. Consequently, despite the brilliant body of work created, during this time, Czech art rarely left the country and has remained virtually unknown to the rest of the world until now.
CONTENT: Over 100 paintings, sculptures[,] and works on paper on loan from international collections, with unprecedented loans from the National Gallery of Prague, the Moravian Gallery of Brno, the Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, and numerous regional Czech museums.
ORGANIZATION: Organized by Anne Tucker, Curator of Photography at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and guest curator Jaroslav Andel. Its installation at The Brooklyn Museum is coordinated by Charlotta Kotik, Curator of Contemporary Art.
PUBLICATION: A fully illustrated catalogue with scholarly essays, co-published by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Little, Brown and Company, will accompany the exhibition. It is funded by an anonymous donor, Gay Block, Betty Moody[,] and the Vaughn Foundation. 208 pages: 139 illustrations, 34 in color ($27.50 softcover, $50.00 hardcover).
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
October 8, 1989 - January 7, 1990
The Brooklyn Museum
(paintings, sculpture[,] and works on paper)
March 2 - May 7, 1990
International Center of Photography, New York
March 2 - May 13, 1990
Anthology Film Archive, New York
(film and film posters)
March 8 - May 13, 1990
Akron Art Museum
June 23 - August 26, 1990
The Cleveland Museum of Art
(film and film posters)
Cleveland Institute of Art
(film and film posters)
University Art Museum
Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley
(film and film posters)
March 13, 1990: CZECH MODERNISM. On March 27 Charlotta Kotik and Ralph McKay, Curator Anthology Film Archives, will tape an interview for The Casper Citron Show. The program is heard in New York on WOR, 10:00 pm-midnight on Saturdays. Air date to come. Journalists from Welcome (the Philadelphia version of the Village Voice) and Insight (a regional newsmagazine targeted to the Washington, D. C. audience) were here to view the exhibition recently, as was the art critic for the Chelsea/Westside News and Commonweal. The April issue of Artforum will also contain an article. WNYC is coming out to the Museum to cover the show and to tape an interview with Charlotta this coming Friday. She has also taped an interview for National Public Radio which will be heard nationwide. And, you have all seen Michael Kimmelman’s New York Times review as well as Amei Wallach’s article in Newsday. Jerry Tallmer of the New York Post will be at the Museum Wednesday morning to review the exhibition.
WILLIAMSBURG MURALS: A REDISCOVERY will receive major national attention when the exhibition is featured on Sunday Today (the Sunday morning version of the Today Show with Garrick Utley) to be seen nationally on the NBC TV network. They will use footage from the Housing Authority videotape and will have a crew at the opening on March 29. It is tentatively scheduled to air on Sunday, April 9.
YALTA 1945/WINTER IN MOSCOW 1977. Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid will be interviewed about the Grand Lobby installation by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, heard throughout the country on National Public Radio. Air date to come. Kay Lawson of New York magazine and Pam Heller of Connoisseur will attend the Contributors’ Circle Preview on March 15.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 01-03/1990, 047. View Original
- Prague: Neglected Hotbed of ModernismMarch 2, 1990 "LEAD: Beginning this weekend, three New York City institutions pay homage to Prague, the Czechoslovak capital that during the first half of this century turns out to have been no less an incubator of modern art than Paris or Moscow or Vienna. Whether it was testing out the waters of new technologies, like film, or giving a distinctively..."
- Review/Film; The Wonder of Czech Cinema's Early DaysMarch 2, 1990 By CARYN JAMES"LEAD: ''There is definitely something seductive in this new medium,'' the Czechoslovak film theoretician Vaclav Tille wrote in 1908. ''In those silent, swift, nebulous and playfully swarming shadows there is something wonderfully attractive, something clearly evoking in the soul impressions of one's own dreams . ''There is definitely something..."
- Review/Photography; Czech Venturesomeness on View: Pictures Rooted in the FutureMarch 2, 1990 By ANDY GRUNDBERG"LEAD: The story of the experimental, disruptive and ultimately exhilaratingly brand of image making known as European modernist photography has been told countless times, most recently by the exhibition ''The New Vision'' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But because of the political barrier that has divided Eastern and Western Europe until..."
- Review/Art; Gallery of Unknowns In Brooklyn ExhibitionMarch 2, 1990 By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN"LEAD: TO discuss Czechoslovak art of the 20th century has long meant to speak about Frantisek Kupka or to say nothing at all. Kupka's name and to a lesser extent the name of Otto Gutfreund have earned mention in most surveys of modern art, although neither has achieved anything like the recognition he deserves (especially Kupka, it should be added,..."