The company Modernista, which has a shop in the centre of Prague, deals in both original Czech furniture from the first half of the 20th century and replicas it has made under license. Perhaps most notably, Modernista sells and recreates Cubist pieces – including ceramics and clocks – which are unique to this part of the world. Owner Janek Jaros described the business to me when we spoke a few days ago.
The record auction of František Kupka’s painting The Shape of Blue has revealed shortcomings in the country’s registration of works that fall under the national heritage, especially in the area of fine arts. To date, the Czech state has failed to determine whether the painting, which was sold to a foreign buyer for 55.75 million crowns, falls under the national heritage or not, the Czech News Agency ČTK writes, citing insider sources. Should this be the case, the buyer would not be able to take the painting out of the Czech Republic. The National Heritage Institute claims that Kupka’s work does fall under the national heritage. However, the seller of the painting maintains that it does not, since the process of proclaiming it a part of the national heritage had not been completed by the time the painting went on sale. The buyer is now waiting for a decision by the Ministry of Culture on the matter.
The buyer of Frantíšek Kupka’s painting The Shape of Blue, which in April was sold at auction for a record 55.75 million Czech crowns, may not be able to take the piece out of the country. According to the National Heritage Institute, the painting is part of the national heritage and as such cannot be taken out of the Czech Republic. However, the owner of the gallery where the auction took place says he has a document from the same institution which confirms that the Kupka painting is not actually in the national heritage registry. The buyer of the artwork, which was created in 1013, does not reside in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is planning to build a new embassy in Washington D.C. that will cost the state some 580 million Czech crowns to construct. The building will be financed through the sale of other state-owned real estate and construction is set to begin in two year’s time. The opposition has criticized the costly project, stating that it is inappropriate to build such an expensive embassy in light of the fact that the government has been implementing extensive austerity measures and closing down embassies around the world in an effort to save funds. The current Czech embassy in Washington, which was built in 1969, will be demolished. Officials say it is in a bad state of repair. The new building will have a futuristic look and a design reminiscent of ancient Greek architecture. It will also serve as a location for various cultural events.
You may know the feeling – you return to your native village after a long absence and come across an eyesore – a building that screams “money, power and influence” and sticks out like a sore thumb from its surroundings. That is the kind of building that architect and photographer Jan Kruml likens to a flashing gold tooth.
The functionalist Mánes Exhibition Hall, located on the right bank of the Vltava river between the bridges Jiraskův most and Most Legií, is one of only two buildings in Prague that were expressly designed to house art – the other one being the famous Rudolfinum gallery. Martin Pavala, the chairman of the supervisory board of the Czech Art Foundation, which owns it, explains that the art gallery’s history started in 1930.
This month in Mailbox we read from your letters of condolence on the death in December of the former president Václav Havel, we read from your feedback regarding Radio Prague's programmes and we quote from your answers to January's mystery Czech quiz question. Listeners/readers: Michael Fanderys, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Stephen Hrebenach, Steve Olear, Hans Verner Lollike, Mary Lou Krenek, Jaroslaw Jedrzejczak, Charles Konecny, Vladimir Gudzenko, Colin Law.
In today’s Arts I talk to artist and editor Carrie Paterson about the first English-language edition of a rare and fascinating book originally published in 1936. Written by the third wife of modernist architect Adolf Loos, Claire Beck Loos (Klára Becková-Loosová of Plzeň) it was previously available only in German; the new edition, published by Doppelhouse Press, is called Adolf Loos – A Private Portrait.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott