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Posts Tagged ‘czech republic’

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Lunch breaks are for networking at conferences … and, depending upon the weather, a great time to wander away from the crowds and explore a place. You never know what you will discover, like this little autumn garden on the side of a hill still abloom.

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Crucifix

I had wandered away from the conference during an official break and found myself in, what I realized later, was the village square of Dolni Brezany. One of the square’s most startling features is a large stone sculpture of Jesus on the cross. This Calvary sculpture dates to the 18th century and is a replica with the original apparently relocated to the National Museum.

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… I peek in windows. And, thank goodness, I did this day as I walked past the Portheimka Galerie, a glass museum.

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I thought what I saw in the early morning hours was a new exhibit being installed. Unfortunately for me, it was an exhibit being taken down!

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I am grateful for what I did see and to learn of the artist Karen Lamonte. You can view more of her beautiful work on her website: https://www.karenlamonte.com/

And for more information about Portheimka, visit here: http://www.museumportheimka.cz/introduction/

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An unexpected treat as I meandered about the streets of Prague was to visit the National Gallery and view a small selection of its Asian and African art collection. There’s an excellent description of the collection’s origin and growth on the gallery website. When I visited, I was one of only a few people. In the silence and near solitude, it became almost a meditative space.  You can learn more in the link below.

Additional Reading

http://www.ngprague.cz/en/objekt-detail/kinsky-palace/

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A “found image” on my camera. Detail from a ceiling mural inside a church in Prague.

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As far as I know, I have no Slavic blood in me but I do not think you need to be of Slavic heritage in order to appreciate the beauty and majesty of Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic anymore than you need to be of African American heritage to appreciate the Singing Windows at Tuskegee.

They both employ, in vastly different ways, visual storytelling to convey the histories of peoples and their journeys from subjugation to celebration, from despair to hope. As described on the Mucha Foundation website:  “The Slav Epic (Slovanská epopej) is a series of twenty monumental canvases (the largest measuring over 6 by 8 metres) depicting the history of the Slav people and civilisation. Mucha conceived it as a monument for all the Slavonic peoples …

The idea of the work was formed in 1899, while Mucha was working on the design for the interior of the Pavilion of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which had been commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian government for the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

In preparation for the assignment he travelled widely through the Balkans, researching their history and customs as well as observing the lives of the Southern Slavs in the regions that had been annexed by Austria-Hungary two decades earlier. From this experience sprang the inspiration for a new project – the creation of ‘an epic for all the Slavonic peoples’ that would portray the ‘joys and sorrows’ of his own nation and those of all the other Slavs. ”

On that website you will find a picture of all 20 paintings, a description of the stories depicted in each painting, and “related objects” which include photographs of Mucha at work on particular canvases, working with models, etc.

I read several reviews that said do not go out of your way to see this exhibit. I would say, if you have the opportunity to visit Prague, do all that you can to go out of your way to view this exhibit.  What struck me? The scale of this creation, the source of the inspiration, the vision of the artist and the dedication to completion. And of course the use of color and the expression of light.

It took Mucha approximately five years to shop his idea around and find a benefactor and then over a dozen years to produce his epic even as he produced all of the other art — the posters, the advertisements, murals, etc. — which are considered his definitive works.

Through December 2016 the exhibit can be found at the Trade Fair Palace in the City of Prague (http://www.ngprague.cz/en/exposition-detail/alfons-mucha-the-slav-epic/) and the online exhibit can be found on the Mucha Foundation website (http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/themes/theme/slav-epic).

 

Sources & Additional Readings

http://www.muchafoundation.org/gallery/themes/theme/slav-epic

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Slav_Epic

1925 Article about the Epic as a Work in Progress

a 2010 post about the troubled history of the paintings

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It was a bit of a race against time.  A storm was rolling in. So though we knew we had a few hours before the sun was due to set we didn’t have that great a window of time for light. We raced, as fast as the trolley would take us and then putting foot to pavement, from the Mucha Foundation back to Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral.  Why? Because at the Mucha Foundation we’d seen a drawing of a stained glass window that Mucha had designed for the St. Vitus Cathedral but he had passed away before seeing it executed. But then while watching a brief foundation video on Mucha we learned that a company had funded the execution of the window and it was in the cathedral.  We made it back to the cathedral in time to purchase a ticket and track down the window. And what a sight it was.

And now there is a race against time to catch a flight home and so I will simply leave you with a few images and a few links. Read more about this amazing artist here: http://www.mucha.cz/index.phtml?S=biog&Lang=EN and http://www.muchafoundation.org/

More to share when I return to the States. Until then, be well.

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