National Gallery launches new season with Edgar Allan Poe, Manet and Brutalism

Six exhibitions of graphics, sculpture and installations are opening at the National Gallery’s Veletržní palác

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 03.03.2020 14:26:52 (updated on 19.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The new season is opening at the National Gallery in Prague launches with a Grand Opening on March 5 at 7 pm at Veletržní palác, and the public is invited. The six new exhibitions will run until between June and September.

Two exhibits deal with American poet Edgar Allan Poe. The first — A Dream Within A Dream: Edgar Allan Poe And Art In The Czech Lands — the impact on Czech art of the 19th century poet closely associated with horror and mystery.

Poe’s poems and short stories inspired painters like František Kupka and, more recently, filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, illustrator Adolf Born, sculptor Jaroslav Róna and multimedia artist Krištof Kintera, In total, the works of over 40 artists are represented.

The aim is to show the relationship between modern and contemporary art and a 19th-century author. It complements the permanent exhibition 1796–1918: Art of the Long Century.

The second exhibition is Odilon Redon – À Edgar Poe, showcasing six lithographs from 1882. Redon read Charles Baudelaire’s French translation of Poe’s works and was inspired to make a series of dreamlike images based on specific scenes.

Residents of Prague have likely seen sculptures by Kurt Gebauer without realizing it. At 78 years of age, he is still active and his legacy spans six decades. One of his works called Pond can be seen in a park in Stodůlky in Prague 13.

His work often puzzled the censors in the communist era as well as critics in the art world, who could not fathom the meaning behind his sometimes absurd human figures. The current exhibition is the most comprehensive one of his career.

French artist Édouard Manet is best-known for his Impressionist paintings of modern life. He also dabbled in etchings and about a dozen black-and-white works from the National Gallery’s collection show this rather unknown aspect of his work.

The subject of Brutalist architecture is quite polarizing. The austere style popular in the 1960s to ’80s is looked down on by many due to its associations with the communist regime. The exhibition No Demolitions! Forms of Brutalism in Prague looks at plans, photographs, and models for buildings that were made as well as ones that were proposed and not realized.

The Kotva department store, the former Central Telecommunication Building in Žižkov (currently being demolished), the former Federal Assembly building, the Intercontinental Hotel, the Barrandov Bridge, and recently demolished Transgas building complex are included.

The final new show is in the small hall of Veletržní palác. Echoes of the Venice Biennale: Stanislav Kolíbal reworks his 2019 show from the Czech and Slovak Pavilion in Venice to fit a new space Prague so visitors to get a fresh perspective on the artist’s vision. Sketches and a sculpture from the 1990s have been added.

For more information visit the National Gallery’s Facebook page or website.

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