Publication details

Collecting Vernacularities? Three Different Pictures of Czech Art in Inter-war Bohemia



MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description During the last decades, with the growing importance of social point of view in art historian studies, we recorded the gradual but substantial shift in our view of what we consider to understand as the “canonical development of modern art”. We are now able to perceive and analyse much more in detail the differences between the acceptance of modern and avant-garde art manifestations in the cultural centres and the border regions. We can perceive much more clearly the strong tendencies to hold on and to look back to the vernacular modernisms and patriotic/national cliché of 19th century as a part of national identity seeking processes during not only the whole first half of 20th century in Czech art but also still after the second war. Staying in the Czechoslovak cultural space: both the wide range of polarized art criticism opinions accompanying the main progressive art group exhibitions during the first four decades of 20th century and the auction art trade results show as clearly this diversity of the views and attitudes to the contemporary art scene. Within the ongoing research in the field of art collecting, we should analogically pose the question on the nature and potential developments of our attitude to the subjects studied. As we probably showed the tendency to emphasise and elevate mostly the art collectors reaching in their taste and collecting focus exactly what we considered to be the period art cannon, i. e. the peak modernist and avant-garde tendencies in the existing research up till now (fruitful example is the position of Vincenc Kramar as an adored early French cubism collector, one could have a feeling that he is the only internationally recognised Czech collector of the period), we should now dedicate at least basic ground exploration studies to those ones of regions that doesn’t fit into and hit exactly this easily understandable and interpretable patterns. Once we leave this paradigmatically limited view of how should such a modernist art collector “look like”, behave, decide in his acquisitions and “mirror himself” both in his contacts to contemporary art scene and collection built, we discover the wide range of up till now invisible personalities, passionate art lovers holding on the bizarre vernacular, traditional, national aspects of art, even on those that the later periods had the tendency to call “kitsch”. The paper summarizes the actual state of research as well as the methodology applied and aspires to introduce several sample examples of anti-modernist collectors from different regions of interwar Bohemia.