Gallery spol. s r. o.


Až kometa šlehne nás / z historie zvukového záznamu

When the Comet Hits Us
/ From the History of Talking Machines

The Exhibition Mánes, Prague,
7. 11. 2003 – 15. 2. 2004

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When the Comet Hits Us
So sang the Žižkov Sokol Band as they played into a recording machine about a hundred years ago under the baton of band leader Arnošt Herman. The title of their song has been used for this exhibition that deals with more than the history of sound recording. The selection of exhibits from two major European private collections (Gabriel Gössel of Prague and Wilfried Sator of Winnenden in Germany) and works of art from many state and private collections offers a picture of the beginnings of modern popular music and everyday life in the Czech “jazz age” of the 1920s and 1930s


Hugo Boettinger, In the café, 1926

The entire exhibition project developed into a kind of window onto the daily life of those days as reflected in advertisements, gramophone needle tins, gramophone labels and actual gramophones and phonographs of all shapes and sizes. Numerically speaking, the largest section of the actual gramophone exhibits consists of visually attractive gramophone needle tins with all sorts of period motifs, followed by advertisement posters for gramophone needles, and postcards issued by gramophone-needle firms…


The two private collections provided a whole selection of gramophone recordings –about 50 in number – ranging in size from 5 cm to 60 cm in diameter and made from various materials, plus record labels and covers, including 500 interesting coloured labels of Czech origin. An essential part of the exhibition are the first gramophone-record albums (including art nouveau designs, decorated and painted types, “jewellery-case” varieties), as well as retailers’ advertisements, gramophone record catalogues and advertising posters. Last but not least is the actual reproduction equipment of all shapes and sizes, including gramophones in disguise: – a pot plant, a piano, a Buddha statuette, a pillar and scroll clock, etc.


The exhibition seeks to provide a glimpse of the society of the first half of the 20th century, particularly café, dance hall and bar settings, through works of modern art (J.Zrzavý, M.Kopf, A.Hoffmeister, R.Kremlička, P.Kotík, H.Boettinger, S.Máchal, J.Čapek, K.Černý, O.Gutfreund. O.Švec, B.Stefan and others). The small selection of works is a mixture of different styles, although more or less realistic representation prevails.


Pravoslav Kotík, Singing Negro, early 1930s

An exhibition catalogue has been published in Czech and English versions, the main text of which is by the exhibition’s initiator Gabriel Gössel (who has presented a weekly programme on Czech Radio for the past six years and is a regular contributor to leading journals and the author of a book on phonograms), plus an introduction by Josef Kroutvor and brief texts on specific topics by a number of authors: Vladimír Kaiser, the Director of the Ústí nad Labem Municipal Archive, Jaroslav Kořán, Marie Bergmanová and Wilfried Sator. In addition there are postcards, posters, calendars and other printed matter with reproductions of the exhibits.


An integral part of the exhibition are video projections, live and reproduced music and various accompanying programmes that transport the visitor back in time to the period of the exhibits, the boom time of popular music – new, democratic, mass consumer culture – sound films with music, night bars, dance halls, stars of entertainment, but also modern architecture and literature. These programmes have been produced by Trans Media.
Entrance to all the accompanying programmes is free on presentation of a valid ticket to the exhibition. Season tickets will be sold for series on specific topics.

Na všechny doprovodné programy vstup po předložení platné vstupenky na výstavu.
Na jednotlivé tematické cykly budou v prodeji permanentní vstupenky.


Emanuel Frinta, Dance, 1920

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