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2/2020

Articles

Pavla Savická

Social and Economic Aspects of Sculpture in Prague in the 17th and 18th Century

Sociální a ekonomické aspekty sochařské tvorby v Praze v 17. a 18. století

pp. 126–138

The social history of the artist has for some time been a focus of interest in art history, but in many branches of the discipline the fragmentary nature or total absence of sources makes it a subject difficult to tackle coherently. The results of research on Bohemian Baroque sculpture are concentrated primarily in general syntheses, monographs on individual artists, and typologically orientated catalogues. Interest in the Baroque sculptural workshop represents another distinctive research line. Details of the social and economic background of sculptors partially rises to the surface in such studies, but systematic analysis, supported by a reasonably large amount of statistically interpretable information, is still lacking. The article therefore outlines the whole wide range of questions and research possibilities concerning the social and economic status of Prague sculptors, with some reference to other Bohemian and Moravian towns and developments abroad. Recent similarly orientated publications about Prague painters mean that there is now a prospect of comparison of the data obtained from tax registers, and potentially a more precise comparison of income for commissions and ultimately standard of living. The text considers several themes that can be at least partially illuminated from surviving written sources: guilds and other institutions regulating the professional lives of artists; the property of sculptors, above all house ownership, which was a fundamental precondition of higher social status and rights; fees paid for works and difficulties in comparing them. Last but not least there is the evidential value of material sources, above all the statues themselves, but also stylised representation of sculptors’ workshops in painting of the period. The article presents a summary of research to date in the field of the social history of Prague sculptors and suggests possible starting points for further research especially with an eye to data that can be quantitatively processed and the limits of its use. Pavla Savická: p.savicka@gmail.com

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Hubert Guzik

Public Opinion, Glasnost and the Competition for the Reconstruction of the Old Town Hall in Prague

Lidové mínění, glasnosť a soutěž na dostavbu pražské Staroměstské radnice

pp. 139–153

Parts of the Old Town Hall were entirely destroyed in the Prague Uprising in 1945 and were never replaced. In 1987 a competition for a replacement on the site brought nothing in the way of pioneering architectural vision, but triggered a heated public debate. This article analyses the political contexts of the debate and explores the changes in the relationship between architects and the lay public in the last years of “real socialist” Czechoslovakia. The debate on the Old Town Hall took place at a time when elements of Soviet “Glasnost” were starting to spread to Prague. Glasnost brought a stimulus to the politicisation of Czechoslovak society, enabling members of the public to express relatively open criticism in areas where there was no threat to the foundations of the regime, and it also upset the existing balance between the architects- experts and the “statistically averaged out” users of their buildings. When the Old Town competition was announced, the users of buildings, whom the architects had got used to seeing as “silent” allies in negotiation with a construction sector responsible for prefab “panel” housing estates, took up a position of entrenched hostility to contemporary architecture. While at the level of diagnosis of the dismal state of the residential or urban environment the experts and the public were in many respects in agreement, their ideas on new buildings in historically valuable localities were essentially at odds. The general public mostly preferred the competition entries that used a historicising morphology and a creative but restorative approach, and vigorously rejected soc-modernist and post-modernist proposals. The bitter debate about the re-building of the Town Hall was not conducive to deeper thinking on the mechanisms of architectural participation, and in this sense the affair differed from the concurrent attempts to save Prague’s old suburb of Žižkov. Indeed, the Old Town dispute and the public attacks on contemporary architecture that it involved were one reason why after the Velvet Revolution, professionals for a long time tended to avoid the subject of democratic architectural participation.

Hubert Guzik: guzikkam@fa.cvut.cz

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Ed Krčma

Compression and Riddlecraft: On Pavel Büchler's 'Small Sculptures'

Zhuštění a umění hádanky: malé sochy Pavla Büchlera

pp. 153–171

This article provides the first sustained exploration of an important group of works by the Czech artist, Pavel Büchler. Büchler’s ‘small sculptures’, produced between 2006 and 2015, employ remarkably modest means to bear tellingly upon a wide range of cultural, political, and philosophical problems. The works are composed of simple, everyday found objects — a pencil stub, a coin, a cigarette lighter, a discarded paint tube — all of which are inscribed with language and with traces of their former use. Enigmatic and elliptical, these works draw their significance from the shared histories, cultural traditions and social experiences to which they make reference, serving to pose precise questions regarding the meanings of such collective formations, and their relationship to art’s particular kind of work. Developing the idea of ‘compression’, a term borrowed from the analysis of poetry, the article elucidates the ways in which the ‘small sculptures’ open onto some of the most pressing problems for contemporary art: the relationship between art and aesthetic experience after the readymade and conceptualism; the transactions between visual art and literature, and particularly modern poetry; the problem of interpretation, its movements and its limits; and the tense relationship between artistic autonomy and political engagement. The ‘small sculptures,’ four of which are engaged with closely here, constitute a critique of both the reliance of much contemporary art upon big budgets and spectacular effects, and of the insistence that art directly articulate statements of ideological commitment. Drawing upon theoretical resources developed by Georges Perec, Theodor Adorno and Václav Havel, for example, the text articulates the ways in which Büchler’s works possess a strange kind of density, in the manner of a rebus or a riddle. They embody art’s capacity to speak otherwise and demonstrate how much can be done with what is apparently very little indeed.

Ed Krčma: E.Krcma@uea.ac.uk

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Reports

Petr Uličný

A Difficult Mission. The Building of the St Vitus Cathedral in the Time of Ferdinand I and Anna Jagiellon (1526–1547)

Obtížná mise. Stavba katedrály sv. Víta za Ferdinanda I. a Anny Jagellonské (1526–1547)

pp. 172–192

The Cathedral of St. Vitus at Prague Castle, founded in 1344, was still incomplete when the Hussite Wars broke out. King Vladislav Jagiellon took up the project again in 1509, but soon afterwards work on it was halted, evidently because the construction of other parts of the castle fortifications was given priority. After being elected King of Bohemia in 1526, Ferdinand I of Habsburg clearly intended to renew work on the cathedral, and in 1530 — evidently under the direction of Benedikt Ried, he had a row of gables erected over the east choir. But then the building work lapsed again and the prospect of further progress was finally ruined by a great fire in 1541; after the fire the king could do no more than restore only the eastern choir, and he even substantially shortened the cathedral. Work was made difficult by a lack of funds, further complicated by Ferdinand’s unwillingness to look for potential sponsors in the ranks of the (Utraquist) nobility and burghers, without whose contributions an ambitious cathedral church could not be built in this era. It was largely the clergy who were left to restore or replace the damaged or lost furnishings and equipment. The size and form of the building were inadequate to the demands of an expanded royal court and especially the court of Queen Anna Jagiellon, for whose retinue of ladies a wooden platform had to be very awkwardly built into one of the chapels. It seems to have been for the queen, too, that Vladislav’s royal oratory was altered before 1537, by the installation of a heated wooden chamber. After the queen’s death in 1547, Ferdinand gave the order for her tombstone to be erected in the Cathedral, but we do not know whether this happened. Anna was buried in the Marian Choir, where until 1619 there was a superb altar, probably created sometime in the 1520s by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Although it has been suggested that the painting was acquired by the emperor Maximilian I, it is most likely that it was purchased later, by Rudolf II, and installed in the cathedral in connection with the building of a new mausoleum in 1589.

Petr Uličný: petrulicny@seznam.cz

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Zdeněk Kazlepka

Among Venetian Painters: Newly Identified Paintings from the Collection of Count Humprecht Johann Czernin

Mezi benátskými malíři. Nově identifikované obrazy ze sbírky hraběte Humprechta Jana Černína

pp. 193–201

Count Humprecht Johann Czernin (1628–1682), who resided in Venice as the ambassador of Emperor Leopold I in the years 1660–1663, was undoubtedly one of the leading collectors of Venetian art of the 17th century. In the years 1661–1662 Czernin’s collecting activities were particularly intense and significant. Thanks to new academic searches,we can now identify the following paintings as art works from the former Czernin Gallery that are still held in Czech collections: In the Czernin collections at the Chateau of Jindřichův Hradec we find a large painting of the Assumption of Our Lady, which can be attributed to Pietro Ricchi, known as Lucchese (1606–1675). Dark colour scheme, dry and austere idiom, and the sober composition and elegance of the clearly defined figures are especially characteristic of Ricchi’s Venetian period. The Czernin collection also included a curious series of male nudes produced in private academies, where practical courses of drawing and painting from nature alternated with theoretical lessons, involving conversation on literature, history, anatomy, perspective, geometry, Antiquity and music. One of these male nudes, known as the “academy nude”, may be attributed to Pietro Vecchia (1603–1678), and is kept in the gallery of the Premonstratensian Monastery in Prague on Strahov. Another painting by -Vecchia, which this time depicts a naked Samson, is owned by the Prague collector Patrik Šimon. Beside Pietro -Vecchia, Giuseppe Diamantini (1621–1705) was much favoured. He is the author of the painting Venus and Aeneas, which is today in the collection of the Colloredo-Mansfelds at the Chateau of Dobříš. The source for this depiction, also reproduced in Imagines Galeriae, was the eighth book of Virgil’s Aeneid (Aeneid, VIII, 594–731). In this work Diamantini adopts the style of Pietro -Liberi, including a warm colour palette that forms and softening the figures, whose complexions take on a strange light that gives them a supernatural charm.

Zdeněk Kazlepka: zdenek.kazlepka@moravska-galerie.cz

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Archives

Alena Kavčáková

Zdenka Burghauserová — Organiser of the Exhibitions of Czech Women Artists in Amsterdam and the Hague in 1929

Zdenka Burghauserová – organizátorka výstav českých umělkyň v Amsterdamu a Haagu v roce 1929

pp. 202–225

Zdenka Burghauserová (1894–1960), whose very distinctive style as a painter made her conspicuous on the inter-war art scene, is now a half-forgotten figure in Czech art. A hundred years ago (1920), she was one of the founding and also most active members of the Circle of Woman Artists (Kruh výtvarných umělkyň). An edition of previously unnoticed letters from her partially surviving correspondence with Rosa Manus (an important leader of the Dutch and world women’s movement), Albertine van Aerssen (a member of the art committee of the Nederlandsche Vrouwenclub in Amsterdam), the ambassador in the Hague Miroslav Plesinger-Božinov and his wife, the painter Anna Plesingerová-Božinová, or with Vladimír Matějka, the first secretary of the Czechoslovak Embassy in the Hague, together with information in archives from the years 1928–1930, documents her energetic efforts to get the work of Czech women artists exhibited in the Netherlands. Although Zdenka Burghauserová’s private organisational work ran into trouble more than once as a result of her unconventional tactics and over-impulsive behaviour reflecting psychological stress caused by a difficult life situation at the time, it led to collaboration with Dutch women’s clubs and in 1929 to the successful realisation of exhibitions of the free and applied art of eleven Czech women artists in Amsterdam and the Hague. A temporary crisis in Zdenka Burghauserová’s personal and professional relations meant that unlike the presentation of the works of Czech women artists at exhibitions in Athens, Vienna and Buenos Aires, these exhibitions were not held under the aegis of the Women’s National Committee (Ženská národní rada) and the Circle of Women Artists. Together with those other exhibitions, however, they played an important role in the process of women’s emancipation in the field of Czechoslovak visual arts, where international ambitions fitted with the international political promotion of the democratic system of the young Czechoslovak Republic, and so gradually gained official state support in the later 1920s.

Alena Kavčáková: alena.kavcakova@upol.cz

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Reviews

Jindřich Vybíral

Pavel Kalina, Hluboké město

pp. 226–228

Mateusz Kapustka

Ivan Foletti et al. (eds), Migrating Art Historians on the Sacred Ways

pp. 229–232

Kateřina Horníčková – Michal Šroněk

Viktor Kubík, Bible táborského hejtmana Filipa z Padeřova

pp. 232–237

Dalibor Prix

Hynek Látal, Laboratoře inovací

pp. 238–242

Martina Pachmanová

Marcela Rusinko, Snad nesbíráte obrazy?

pp. 242–245

Anežka Bartlová

Maja Fowkes – Reuben Fowkes, Central and Eastern European Art Since 1950

pp. 245–248

Annotations

pp. 249–252

Česká resumé / English Summaries

pp. 253–258