Bratislava City Gallery ­– Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic
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Slovak Art 1957 - 1970, from private collections | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic

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Exhibition

Slovak Art 1957 - 1970, from private collections

Mirbach Palace (show Contact)
24. 1. 2007 - 15. 4. 2007
Curator: Ivan Jančár, manager - Jan Kukal

After a few exhibitions which were for a big part sourced from private collections we decided to present a choice from collections of collectors from the period 1957 -1970, which is not just by chance. It is this, in the history of our fine art possibly the most exciting era which the City Gallery of Bratislava handles quite often. There was already the realisation of the exhibition from the collections by Vladimír Železný, we also prepare an exhibition of alternative pop-culture from the sixties of the last century The Pope Smoked Dope. This time it is a choice of exceptionally important artworks from this era which I would like to reawaken at least in its fundamental landmarks.
The list of private collectors is long. From history we can mention the Medici family, lord Arundel, empress Catharine II, the merchant Tretjakov, from the more recent ones John Pierpont, Albert Barnes, Getty, Gulbenkian. From the surrounding countries we know very well the collections from the Leopold or Ludwig museums, in Prague was an extraordinary collection of cubism by Dr. Vincent Kramář or a large collection of Czech and Slovak art by Meda Mládková and collection by Vladimír Železný. In Hungary are famous the Nudelmann’s and Kieselbach’s collections. Also in Bratislava has the collectorship an old tradition. At its beginnings stood Albert Těšínský. At the Bratislava Castle he owned a large collection of world graphic art which he moved with himself in the year 1794 to Vienna where it became the base for the famous Albertina. Accept for his collection in Bratislava were famous some royalty and citizen’s families pursuing collectorship. From the royalty there were Pálffy, Török, Nyáry and also Mirbach who left his collection in his testament during the II WW to the city. From the citizens collections famous were the Hübner’s, Eder’s, Lafranconi’s, Stampfel’s, Scherz’s and others. In the year 1883 the sculptor V. Tilgner gifted his native city with a collection of his own works. They were the immediate impulse for establishing an art gallery within the City Museum from which in 1959 earmarked the City Gallery of Bratislava. A number of important collections were created also in the Spiš region and in the east of Slovakia.

Collectorship in Slovakia was by far not as developed as in other countries, for example in the Czech Republic. The fifties of the 20th century meant a rupture even of the short continuity and the collectorship in Slovakia practically stopped existing. It started to renew only slowly and sporadically. The most important private collector became Ernest Zmeták who in the year 1979 generously gave as a gift 2145 artworks from his collection to the gallery in Nové Zámky. However, other private collections gradually started to develop. They were built on personal friendships with artists, many hours spent in ateliers, discussions and many unforgettable experiences. In this way précised their collection Jan Kukal with his wife and later Ivan Melicherčík who enlarged the collection of “Galandovci” (a circle of artists around the painter M. Galanda) also by a collection of naïve and African art, the family of collectors who established the Gallery Linea and many others. Also some bank institutions sporadically started to pursue collectorship, mainly though after the year 1989 and the most active was Slovenská sporiteľňa.

Some collectors anxiously watch their collections in the privacy of their homes, others like to publicise their collections. In this way the mentioned Gallery of Ernest Zmeták or Galéria Linea was established, often publicly presented were the collections by Ivan Melicherčík a few times was published information about the collection by Jan Kukal and his wife or the collection owned by Bohumil Hanzel. Particularly actively presents its collections the Prvá slovenská investičná spoločnosť (First Slovak Investment Company), which exhibited them in a number of prestigious European galleries. One of the most important acts was the establishing of the Milan Dobeš Museum and with it connected Komart Gallery, who with their collections aimed at constructivists and geometrising arts have already markedly asserted themselves in international circumstances and in this year they were presented even in the extraordinarily prestigious Moscow’s Museum of Modern Art. Also the Galleria Danubiana has in its collection a number of artworks, an important collection presents also the recently opened Zoya Gallery. Ivan Zubaľ wrote also the book Encyclopaedia of a painting in which accept for others, he pays attention to the theme of buying and collecting of paintings. Also Ivan Melicherčík published a number of catalogues and a special book About collectorship or delirium collectoris. In January 2004 the Company of art collectors was established, whose members since then meet regularly. At the time of writing this text, started with collecting activity concentrated at young painting also the Foundation of VÚB for painted artwork for young artists, a similar intent has also a new Foundation Young painting, which collects and supports young painters and it starts to cooperate closely with the City Gallery of Bratislava. From the point of view of our exhibition also the fact is quite interesting that the collections were mainly concentrated on classic painting, sculpture and graphic art and those authors, involved with alternative forms of art were almost not at all in the centre of interest. Only after the year 1989 they started to be bought mainly by the Prvá slovenská investičná spoločnosť, Aukčná spoločnosť Soga and Galéria Linea. That is why we tried for a wider look at this problem even if this exhibition does not have the ambitions of a concentrated scientific evaluation of the given era.

Ivan Jančár
Director of GMB, curator of the collection of graphic art from the 20th century,
curator of the exhibition

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