Gallery spol. s r. o.
Červený slunečník

Red Parasol, 1902

 

Reality, Paradise and Myth
Max Švabinský  

The Moravian Gallery in Brno
In Pražák Palace,
Husova 18, Brno
25. 4. - 21. 7. 2002

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Open daily except for Mondays and Thuesdays
from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on thursdays until 7 p.m.


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Josefa Vejrych
in Scottish plaid, 1902
The Moravian Gallery in Brno

 

A native of Kroměříž in Moravia, Maxmilian (Theodor Jan) Švabinský has been for decades one of the best known Czech artists. He was a distinguished member of the generation that laid the foundations of modern Czech art and the quality of his work helped put Czech art on the European map. However, all the foreign recognition that he received in the course of his long career tells us little about the actual quality of his oeuvre. This must be discovered at first hand in order to fully appreciate its immense scope and do it justice.

            Almost forty years have passed since the artist’s death and it is almost thirty years since the last retrospective exhibition of his work. “The humble labourer, Maxmilian Švabinský, Czech painter and engraver”, as he described himself on the portrait of Mánes, believed in continuity, a continuing tradition, and he consciously sought to foster it in his work. His extensive oeuvre has stood the test of time. What has survived to our days is an impressive legacy of a great artist, which deserves to be constantly rediscovered.

 

Summery day, 1906
The Moravian Gallery in Brno

 

Studio, 1916
oil on canvas, 197 x 147 cm
private collection

 

Among the less happy aspects of Švabinský’s fate is that the greatest works of his mature years have remained anonymous (the cathedral) or inaccessible (the Liberation Monument). As a consequence, the only thing that many people know of his work is the large composition Harvest , perceived without any awareness of how it came to be created, and the portrait of the official communist idol, Julius Fučík. This has distorted the image of his oeuvre, and his best period – 1900-1922 – has been neglected. Future generations must be allowed to know the enormous, distinguished oeuvre of this great Czech artist at first hand. Maybe the history of Czech art – including the recent past – will manage to dispense with the clichés and start to reveal to us the enormous wealth represented by the different paths dictated by artists’ own particular talents.

 

Paradise Sonata IV – Early Spring 1918
wood-engraving, 800 x 530 mm
private collection

 

The Last Judgement 1:10, 1935 – 1936
brush, indian ink, water-colour, 1570 x 1140 mm
Kroměříž Regional Museum

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