East Contemporary

„The End of Golden Times“ – Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Viennese modernism from the collections of the National Gallery in Prague

Prague, April 24 – July 15, 2018, National Gallery, Trade Fair Palace Dukelských hrdinů 47 Prague 7, http://www.ngprague.cz

Emil Orlik, Architect Josef Hoffmann, 1903, *

The National Gallery in Prague prepared The End of Golden Times exhibition, presenting less known art works from its depository connected to the epoch and thematic circuit of the Viennese Secession.

The exhibition starts with prints of Hans Makart, who studied under Karel Theodor von Piloty in Munich and who was a member of the historical painting school. In the beginning of the exhibition, we find aquarelles by Rudolf von Alt, who was honorary president of the Vienna Secession.

Interesting are the studies of decorations in a geometric style by Josef Hoffmann. These represent floral motifs and also architectonical drawings – sketches for the Palais Stoclet in Bruxelles and studies for the villa Skywa-Primavesi (it is not without interest, that Hoffmann used graph paper for their creation).

In the central part of the exhibition, we find artwork of other painters, who founded or took part in the life of the Vienna Secession. One of them was for example the painter Carl Moll (the painting Infront of the House – the artist´s house in Hohe Warte in Vienna) or Maximilian Oppenheimer, who studied at the Vienna Academy (1900-3), and who changed later to the Prague Academy (1903-8). He was in contact with the members of the group Osma while in Prague. His portrait of his brother Fridrich Oppenheimer and his masterwork Operation, which is modernist by his medical theme and which is formally inspired also by El Greco, are part of the exhibition.

Oskar Kokoschka is represented by artworks from his early period – the portrait of the poet Albert Ehrenstein, studies of nudes of girls and prints. In the exhibition we also find works on paper by Carl Otto Czeschka, who was a friend of Kokoschka. There are many drawings by Alfred Kubin in the exhibition. Kubin was called „the Austrian Goya“. He was inspired by Dostojevsky, Poe and Hoffmann. His artistic references were, beside others, also Max Klinger and Odilon Redon. Artworks by Emil Orlik should not be missed. He has more than one thousand works in the collections of the Prague National Gallery and was connected with the Prague milieu during his life. His artworks inspired by the Asian prints are interesting. A less known author is Rudolf Jettmar, who invented subject of dragons and monsters, inspired by the heritage of painter Arnold Böcklin.

In the end of the exhibition, we find the two most honored artists, who have the 100th jubilee of their death this year. Gustav Klimt was the most important member of the Vienna Secession. The paintings for the Vienna Theatre are taken up in the exhibition. The whole exhibition is centered towards the masterwork the Virgin, which is inspired by Sigmund Freud and the period when dreams were in the center of his interest. A big benefit of the actual exhibition is that the visitor can admire drawings, which are normally not on view. Apart from the second masterwork by Klimt – the painting the Water Chateau – we can admire excellent drawings – studies to the Veristas and very beautiful nudes of lying girls.

Egon Schiele, Still Life With Flowers, 1911, *

The exhibition is closed by artworks of Egon Schiele, the famous expressionist of Czech origin.  The National Gallery owns three very important paintings from him – Pregnant Woman and Death, Dead City (Český Krumlov) and Still Life with Flowers. It is not without interest that the last two artworks come from the heritage of the widow of Jan Štursa, the well-known Czech sculptor. The big merit of the National Gallery is that for the actual exhibition it prepared also works on paper by Schiele, which are known usually only from reproductions – the self-portrait from the year 1914 in an orange coat, nudes and the very famous Sitting woman (Edith) from the year 1917. With his nudes, Egon Schiele shocked the public and was even imprisoned. The merit of the curators of the actual exhibition is, that they show also the Czech connections of Schiele´s life and creation, which were not researched a lot.

The small, but very interesting exhibition could be recommended to all visitors of the National Gallery. Although we are used to exhibitions of the classics in Vienna, it is very good to see them in Prague, not only because the comfort that we do not have to travel, but also because of the reason, that there are very intimate relationships with the local environment that are often overlooked by the Viennese curators. The exhibition will please the eye of every art lover of the art of modernity.

A short brochure with the biographies of all the artists and high quality reproductions of the artworks from the exhibition has been published and can be used as a guide to the exhibition.

*Images from https://www.ngprague.cz/en/exposition-detail/konec-zlatych-casu

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