The End of the Avant-garde? Czech Art 1938-1948
Municipal Library, City Gallery Prague
20 May - 25 September, 2011
The distance in time from the traumatic experiences of the war, nazism and the beginnings of communism makes it possible to shift the interest in the 1940s from the historical and political level towards culture and art. The art project and the book follows on the successful exhibition Years in Days - Czech Art 1945-1957 which was praised by both professionals and the wider public immediately after its opening.
A team of art historians (Lenka Bydžovská, Vojtěch Lahoda, Milan Pech, Anna Pravdová, Lucie Zadražilová) led by Hana Rousová presents the art work which during the extremely difficult times of the occupation, and also soon after it, did not resign itself to the forceful demands of power, but kept its own integrity and did not cease to set high goals. The art was confronted by the pseudoculture of totalitarian regimes, during which it was forced to survive in isolation and later, as it did not have the chance to become a part of the regular cultural production, it was more or less forgotten. In this context for the first time, the public can see documentary photographs and film excerpts from monstrous Fascistic and post-war procommunist exhibitions put up in Bohemia. Other unique material underscores the kitsch and propaganda and their abusive character. However, the exhibition also has a purely personal aspect through the fates of the artists who perished in this time period and whose art work was violently interrupted and those who managed to emigrate, often under dramatic circumstances.
Arbor vitae has published an extensive catalogue of the exhibition.
Web page of the exhibition on ARTMAP