In the summer of the 2002, Prague was hit by one of the worst floods in the city’s history. The swollen Vltava inundated parts of the historic centre, including the Jewish quarter, which had to be evacuated. This dramatic scene is the setting for the new Czech novel Sidra Noach by David Jan Novotný. The name comes from the weekly readings from the scripture. As it happened, the story of Noah was read in the synagogue just as the waters began to recede.
Decadence Now! at Prague’s Rudolfinum gallery has become one of the most talked about exhibitions of the year in the Czech Republic. An extremely ambitious show by local standards, it brings together over 140 pieces by leading contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gilbert and George, and Cindy Sherman. Sections with titles like Sex, Pain and Death feature many works that are unusually graphic, some might say shocking. Indeed, under 15s are not allowed to enter unaccompanied.
Prague’s Villa Bílek, an intriguing piece of modern architecture, has opened to the public after two years of renovation. Designed by the Czech Art Nouveau artist František Bílek as his studio and family home, it stands out as one of the more unusual architectural landmarks of the capital, reflecting Bílek’s vision of a “stronghold of a higher realm”.
Many of the most famous artists of the 20th century will be in Prague as of Wednesday, vicariously through their artworks that is, as the National Gallery opens a major new exhibition called Monet – Warhol, showcasing masterpieces from the Albertina Museum in Vienna. The collection of 80 paintings merely begins with Monet and ends with Andy Warhol, with multiple works by Matisse, Magritte, Kandinsky and many more found in between. Taking famous collections on loan from abroad has not been a common trend in the National Gallery and I asked its director
The story of Vítězslava Kaprálová’s is one of a 25-year-old girl who had a career in music of five years. However, even today, 70 years after her death, there are societies and ensembles dedicated to her, her music is still performed and rerecorded and she remains an inspiration to many as a tragic but heroic figure, particularly for many female composers and conductors. Among them is the composer Sylvie Bodorová who studied at the same conservatory as Kaprálová, in Brno.
The winners of this year’s Czech Press Photo – a competition recognising the very best in Czech and Slovak photography – were announced on Monday. This year the prestigious main prize, known as the Crystal Eye, was awarded to freelance photographer Martin Bandžák; the international jury chose as the winning entry his portrait of an injured girl in hospital, a survivor of the devastating earthquake which hit Haiti this year.
Since it was first created in 2001, the Czech and Slovak Film Database, or CSFD, has gained a massive following in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The largest such website of its kind, it has nearly a quarter of a million entries on films, TV series, actors, directors and so on. A huge community has emerged around the website, with over 220,000 users. In this edition of One on One, we talk to Martin Pomothy, the creator and manager of the database.
It is not often that we are given a taste of contemporary Czech poetry in really good English translation. A remarkable exception is a new collection of poems by one of the best Czech poets to emerge in the last twenty-five years, Sylva Fischerová. She translated the poems herself, together with the American poet, academic and translator, Stuart Friebert, and the result, published under the title, “The Swing in the Middle of Chaos”, shows just how fruitful such collaborations can be. David Vaughan met Sylva Fischerová in her book-filled office
The row over the Slav Epic, a series of 20 large canvasses bestowed to Prague by their creator, the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, has entered a new round. Prague City Hall decided on Friday to ignore a new ban issued by the authorities in Moravský Krumlov, where the paintings have been on display since the 1960s, and to go ahead with their relocation to the capital. Both sides now accuse each other of breaching the law, while the painter’s grandson John Mucha has likened Prague’s latest move to “a rape” of the masterpiece.
A new festival that has just got underway in Prague focuses on social outreach or community theatre, in which professionals engage in a hands-on way with the world around them. The organisers of the Akcent festival have brought together leading directors in this field from around Europe, with the aim of kick-starting a similar movement in the Czech Republic.