“When this devastating war finally comes to an end, artists – like everybody else – will enter into some kind of new world. But this new world will not be a mature man; it will be a mere newborn infant, lying there happily in the newly cleansed air.” (S. K. Neumann, Contemporary War and Art, 1915)
The exhibition ‘In A New World’ presents the first comprehensive overview of one of the most important periods in the history of 20th-century Czech art. It focuses on the years from 1917 to 1927 – a decade which witnessed radical and sweeping changes not only in the political sphere (above all the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak state in 1918), but also in the world of art. This decade saw the emergence of numerous groups of artists who injected much-needed vitality into the stagnant Czech art scene – including the Tvrdošíjní group (‘The Stubborn’), Devětsil, Die Pilger, the ‘New Group’ (Nová skupina), Koliba, and the ‘Social Group’ (Sociální skupina). Two important artistic institutions which had been dormant during the war years – the Mánes Union of Fine Arts and the Umělecká beseda association – re-evaluated their programmes. An important role in this process was played by the Aventinum publishing house, established in 1919 by Otakar Štorch-Marien; in 1927 he set up an exhibition space at the Aventin Palace in Prague, displaying works by the most prominent contemporary Czech artists. The exhibition ‘In A New World’ presents a wide-ranging overview of the development of modern and avant-garde art during a decade which brought rapid and far-reaching changes in all forms of art. Organized in nine separate sections, the exhibition focuses on the most important artists of this decade – not only those who gravitated to great cultural hubs such as Paris, but also several half-forgotten figures who lived and worked in more marginal locations, away from the major cultural and social centres of the time.
It also emphasizes the important role played by Ostrava in shaping the Czech modern art scene during the 1920s and 1930s; a major milestone was the opening of a new gallery in 1926 (the House of Art, Moravian Gallery) designed by the architects Vladimír Wallenfels and František Fiala. The gallery was one of the finest exhibition spaces in inter-war Czechoslovakia – and it is now the main hall of Ostrava’s Gallery of Fine Arts.
The exhibition ‘In A New World’ is the fifth and final part in a cycle of exhibitions at the Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava presenting various periods and personalities in Czech modern art. The previous parts in the cycle were: ‘Contentions of Vision: Facets of Modernity (1890–1918)’; ‘Black Sun: The Dark Side of Modernity (1926–1945)’; ‘The Divine Game’ (focusing on the work of Jan Zrzavý); and ‘A Shining Crystal’ (devoted to Bohumil Kubišta and 20th-century Czech art). This fifth exhibition in the cycle represents the final piece in the mosaic depicting various facets and aspects of Czech modern art.
The patrons of the exhibition are the Minister of Culture Daniel Herman and the President of the Moravian-Silesian Region Miroslav Novák.
The project is financially supported by the Ministry of Culture.
Exhibition concept: Karel Srp
Planning phase coordination: Jan Kudrna, Gabriela Pelikánová
Exhibition texts: Karel Srp
Architectural design: Miroslav Vavřina
Graphic design: Robert V. Novák, Zuzana Burgrová
Implementation: GVUO Team
Copy editors: Eva Hrubá, Jana Šrubařová
Translation: Christopher Hopkinson
Promotion: Kateřina Mertha
Guided tours: Ivo Habán, Jan Kudrna, Renata Skřebská, Karel Srp
Educational programmes: Marcela Pelikánová, Jana Sedláková
Thanks go to all institutions and private collectors who are participating in the exhibition:
Aleš South Bohemian Gallery in Hluboká nad Vltavou; Prague City Gallery; Kodl Gallery, Prague; Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové; Gallery of Modern Art in Roudnice nad Labem; Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region; Karlovy Vary Art Gallery; Gallery of Fine Arts in Cheb; Golden Goose Gallery; Hussite Museum in Tábor; Karlštejnská, a.s.; Regional Gallery of Fine Arts in Zlín; Miroslav Korecký, Art Dealership; Moravian Gallery in Brno; Museum and Gallery of the Orlické Mountains in Rychnov nad Kněžnou; Museum Kampa – Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation; Brno City Museum; Olomouc Museum of Art; National Gallery in Prague; Regional Art Gallery in Liberec; Vysočina Regional Gallery in Jihlava; 8smička, Humpolec; Museum of Czech Literature; R2G Art Foundation; North Bohemian Gallery of Fine Arts in Litoměřice; Robert Runták’s Collection; East Bohemian Gallery in Pardubice; Gallery of West Bohemia in Plzeň; Jewish Museum in Prague
a soukromí sběratelé / and private collectors.
A major new book – In A New World / Conditions of Modernity 1917–1927 – is being published to accompany the exhibition.This publication, containing over seven hundred photographs, presents a comprehensive overview of a period in Czech 20th-century art that has not previously been mapped in detail. Edited by Karel Srp, the book includes contributions by a team of authors (Lenka Bydžovská, Dagmar Mazancová, Zuzana Novotná, Gabriela Pelikánová, Renata Skřebská and Ivo Habán). It is published by Arbor vitae in cooperation with the Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava.