Czech sculpture exhibition at Troja Chateau

In the early 1990s, Prague City Gallery deposited a number of 19th century paintings and handicrafts at Troja chateau, which the gallery owns. This year, the Gallery decided to use a substantial part of the chateau for exhibiting the most important examples of its rich collection of Czech sculpture. Alena Skodova has more:

The exhibition starts with sculptures from around 1900, and the curator of the exhibition, Marie Halirova, says the great French sculptor August Rodin was at the time highly popular.

"Rodin exhibited his works in Prague exactly 100 years ago, in 1902. It was his first exhibition in a foreign country and it was immensely successful. Most of the artists whose works are being shown in the first part of the exhibition worked under Rodin's influence."

These sculptures are typical for their symbolic expressiveness of gesture and often conjure up the impression of quivering under the light. In the 1920s young sculptors under the influence of Otto Guttfreund helped to create the so-called ''social civilism'', when artists began to discover the magic of a primitive interpretation of the world.

The 1930s and 40s are represented for instance by works by Jaroslav Horejc, who in 1976, on his 90th birthday, donated and sold a substantial part of his sculptures to the Prague City Gallery. This was one of the gallery's biggest acquisitions during the Communist era, but it was not before the late 1980s that the Gallery started to seek works of prominent Czech sculptors that were missing in the collection.

The sculpture collection of the City Gallery now consists of 1,358 works and the gallery decided to open this exhibition of sculptures mainly because when not being shown at exhibitions in the Czech Republic or abroad, works by such renowned sculptors as Bilek, Kafka, Maratka, Saloun or Guttfreund, simply remain in depositories.

Mrs. Halirova says her favourite piece in the collection was created by the symbolist Frantisek Bilek. She says she's keen on sculptures from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. What she likes most is Bilek's model for a monument for the 15th century Czech religious reformer, Jan Hus. The model is made of wood, and Bilek created it for a private collector in 1901. But before WWI, Bilek changed the piece and used it for making the Jan Hus monument in the East Bohemian town of Kolin.

In the years to come, the Prague City Gallery will try to acquire other works which will show the development of the art of sculpture in what is now the Czech Republic. Mrs. Halirova says no art collection may ever be considered as definitely closed - its life consists of continuous alternation and growth. The exhibition will last until the end of the year.