Bratislava City Gallery ­– Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic

Umelecké poklady. Secesia | Galéria mesta Bratislavy | Allowance organisation of the City of Bratislava, capital of the Slovak Republic


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The Scholarship of Radislav Matuštík has been established in 2004.


Umelecké poklady. Secesia

Mirbach Palace (show Contact)
8. 3. 2013 - 9. 6. 2013

Secession is an international style of art, architecture and applied arts that flourished at the turn of the 20th century, and significantly influenced the lifestyle of the period.


Latin word secesio means the act of withdrawing from an organisation or union. The artists of Secession wanted to dissociate themselves from a conservative academic art and historicism.


The distinguishing ornamental characteristic of Secession is its undulating line giving the impression of a natural move on the surface the monotony of which is balanced with colours. Characteristic features of Secession include ornamental decorativeness and unusual colours. Secession rejected the order of straight line and right angle in favour of a curve arousing the feeling of airiness and grace.  


Secession, which is known also as Modern Style in England, Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, or Wiener Secession in Austria, also had a significant impact on the work of Czech and Slovak artists.  


Interestingly, Alfons Mucha, a native of the small town of Ivančice in Moravia, became famous not only in Paris but also in New York. At his arrival in 1904 he was greeted by a thousand of fans. The special edition of the New York Times was published, celebrating his arrival. His work was so distinctive that it was labelled Mucha Style.


Alfons Mucha and František Kupka are world-famous Czech artists. Both of them made their most significant works in Paris. Unlike Kupka, however, Mucha often returned to Bohemia. The exhibition presents his masterworks created not only in Paris but also in the US and Bohemia.


Works by Ladislav Mednyánszky and František Kupka are presented together for the first time ever. The collection also includes early works of Anton Jasusch, native of Košice, and Martin Benka, popular Slovak painter, made before 1920, which reveal the influence of Secession.   


The exhibition at the Bratislava City Gallery presents paintings, drawings and coloured lithographs, which we have managed to loan with great difficulty.


In 2014 we would like to prepare a follow-up to the exhibition titled Legends of world secession, which will present posters by Gustav Klimt, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfons Mucha.


Mucha will come back again. Being very fond of Slovakia, he often stayed in Piešťany, and he really deserves favour of his admirers.



The year 1879 played a significant role in the life of nineteen-year-old Alfons Mucha. After being denied admission to the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, he left for Vienna to work as a scene painter with a reputable company making stage set. He lost his job when the company got into financial difficulties, and returned to Moravia. The count Karl Khuen commissioned him to decorate the castles Emmahof and Gandegg in Austria. He was so impressed with Mucha´s work that he agreed, in 1885, to sponsor his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. With the financial support of his generous patron, Mucha continued his studies in Paris in 1887. But in 1889 his patronage ended and he was left to fend as a freelance illustrator. Commissions were sparse and he struggled along. His friend, Paul Gauguin, did not do much better. The competition in Paris was so stiff that Mucha was only short remove from fading into obscurity like many other good artists.

     The breakthrough came on January 1, 1895. Paris was astounded by posters advertising the play “Gismonda”, featuring a famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. The poster launched the era of “Mucha Style”, which dominated the art over twenty years. It chanced that the printing works Lemercier needed a new lithographed poster for New Year´s opening night of the production. Because it was Christmas time and all reputable artists were on vacation, the commission was given to unheralded Mucha.

     His poster was so revolutionary that the printing works was afraid to show it to Sarah Bernhardt. But she was impressed and fascinated Paris agreed with her. Sarah commissioned other posters and introduced Mucha to Paris high society. Poster commissions poured in and tried to satisfy everyone. Christmas 1894 and “Gismonda” became crucial to his future career.

   This only proves that fortune favours the side of those who are not only gifted but also diligent, ambitious and hardworking.


Jan Kukal  



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Other exhibitions/actions

Pálffy Palace / Exhibition
Curator: Vladimír Kordoš, Marián Meško
21. 4. 2020 - 30. 8. 2020
Mirbach Palace / Exhibition
Author: Albín Brunovský
Curator: Ivan Jančár
12. 3. 2020 - 30. 8. 2020

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Pohľad z hradu Starhemberg
Author: Moritz Saint Genois
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