East Contemporary

Olomouc Museum of Art “Avant-garde photographer Jaromír Funke”

Olomouc, Nov 15, 2018 – Jan 10, 2019, Olomouc Museum of Art, http://www.muo.cz/en/

The Art Museum in Olomouc presents an exhibition focused on the photographic oeuvre of avant-garde photographer Jaromír Funke. Funke was son of a lawyer in Kolín. He started to study medicine in Prague, but due to the wish of his father, he changed to law. He finished the curriculum, but he did not take the final exam. After that he studied art history at the Faculty of Arts in Prague.

The exhibition presents a representative and rich choice of photos by Funke. Fascinating are his still-lives, e.g. “Loneliness and Glasses” (1924). The photo Picture-Frames (1924) shows the beauty of simple and pure shapes. The topic itself – frames – is also very well chosen and original. The photos of Plates are very picturesque in the fine shadows, play of light reflections and arrangement of simple round forms. The compositions of simple plates leaning against each other in very fragile manner associate later sculptures of minimalist artists like Richard Serra.

The show has been already presented in Paris, Frankfurt and Prague. The beautiful “Nude” (1927) is unfortunately absent in the Olomouc iteration of the show.

The front of the exhibition hall in Olomouc is dedicated to abstract compositions, showing an interplay of light and shadows. The “Photogram” consisting of glass light objects is subtle and magical. Magical is also the “Exotic Still-Life”, composed from a shell, sea-star and shapes created only by refraction of bright sun light.

I also enjoyed the photo from the Kolín series, showing the life on the square from a birds-eye view and a monumental shadow of the church tower. Is it a reference to mortality and transitory nature of the small figures of people in comparison to eternity?

The photograph from the Glass and Reflection series (1929) showing old cars reflecting in glass in a compositionally sophisticated manner is very romantic.

Surrealist photos as the “Hoarder” have without any doubt placed Funke in the history of European Art. A very fine and pure still-life are “Oranges” (1930), where the round shape of exotic fruits is confronted with the sharp shape of glass plates. The modernist topics are also present in the “Air Show” (1924) and “Reportage from the first Masaryk Circuit in Brno” (1930).

The exhibition is without any doubt worth visiting. Pure beauty can be seen in the abstract compositions by Funke, and one can sense his anticipation of art developments in the decades following World War II. Funke is an internationally acknowledged artist, who is inspired his contemporaries back than and still does so nowadays.

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