20 I GALLERIES I
A stroll through Modernism Prochazka's sampler of 20th-century -isms By PAUL WILSON FOR THE POST
The following was not a headline in any Moravian newspaper in 1907: "Local artist creates first Cubist painting." Critics, while having the benefit of hindsight, do not have the ability to divine the futUre. Nevertheless, if you compare Antonin Prochazka's Fruit and Jug from 1907 with Pablo Picasso's famous Les Demoiselles d'Avignon of the same year, popularly held as the first Cubist painting, the Moravian artist's still life clearly embodies features of Cubism that Picasso would not begin to produce for another five years: one-dimensional flatness of composition, the free placing of objects and an interest in intersecting planes. Born in 1882, Antonin Prochazka amassed and discarded artistic styles like a fickle child. The beauty of his flitting between artistic approaches is that, in the space of three halls of Obecni dUm, viewers can witness the spectrum of Modernism within one artist's career. For those keen on Expressionism, Prochazka's early palette of muted greens, reds, blues and browns will be a revelation. These works, painted between 1904 and 1907, take the formal elements of his Expressionist contemporaries such as Munch and Kirchner but replace their tormented subject matter with homely portrayals of Moravian weddings and domestic life. While Prochazka lacks the psych0logical insight of Munch, he somehow makes Expressionism more accessible through his prosaic subject. matter: -~"llo~~~;J(I~~; > .' . . cerise-and-grrencOlor~ of the Farrves in paintings such as Cirrus (1907), COURTESY ART Prochazka-dallies with Cubism until 1922 Antonio Prochazka's The Singer. His work ran the spectrum of Modernism. - his most concerted period of worlc in anyone style. His Cubism, beyond the iniCubist paintings at all but fragmented, Prochazka for the rest of his career. tial rush of innovation, is very similar tmnbIing lines reminiscent of His subject matter, too, is often drawn to that of Picasso and Braque durKandinsky. from classical mythology, as in his last ing the same period: common Prochazka's development after major work, Prometheus Brings Fire to objects such as wine bottles and 1922 is clearly one of transition Mankind (1938), in the lectUre hall of the vases dismantled from three from one dimension to three and Law Faculty at the university in Olomouc. dimensions into one, then from Cubism to neo-Classical This epic frieze displays the limitations of reassembled with overlapping history painting. The beginning his neo-Classical period: a draftsmanlike planes. approximation of classical line and form of this tendency toward the neoThroughout this Cubist period but a lack of originality in his appropriatOassical can be seen in his figurahe periodically returned to tive paintings titled Drinker, ing of subject matter from Rubens, Expressionism and even experiSmoker and Pigeon-Keeper Tintoretto and El Greco. mented with Futurism, as in the Indeed, this is the ease and the difficulty from 1924. There are still some jagged turbulence of Man and of Prochazka's work as a whole: comfortelements of Cubism lingering Woman (1915). These stylistic able for the casual gallerygoer because of in the slightly off-center perdiversions while he was at the at Obecni dUm his use offarniliar styles but-slightly disapspectives'ofthese works, but same time trying to develop a Ends March 2. pointing for the seasoned art viewer due to the sheer bulkipess of the seatsignature Cubist technique can a nagging lack of sincerity in the artist's Nam. Republiky ed figures is reminiscent of make Prochazka appear uncer5, Prague 1-Qld approach. 16th-century Dutch portraits. tain of his aims. This is underTown. Open daily The human body made monulined by works from 1911 such 10 a.m.-€ p.m. mental and the severe, classical as Cubist Bust and Cubist lines of antique art preoccupied Composition, which are not
• Fronta-Jinna Stenclovil Paintings and drawings. Tuesday, Jan. 7~26. Spalena 53, Prague 1-New Town. Open Tues.--Sun. 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 2-5:30 p.m. • - urad pro jademou bezpecnost (State Office for Nuclear Security)-V1adimir Mencl: The Czech Landscape in Paintings Monday, Jan. 6-31. Senovaine nam. 9, Prague l-New Town. Open Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.rn.
Ends Jan. ;?6. Tomasska 10, Prague l-Mala Strana. Open TueS.-Sun. noon"-6 p.m. Galerie Roberta Guttmanna-Michal Singer This show of boldly colorful paintings by Singer from the past few years marks the gallery's . reopening after the August flood. Ends Jan. 19. U stare skoly 3, Prague l-Gld Town. Open Sun.Thurs. 9a.m.-fi p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-5p.rn. 6IlIBIie lie • r e-iaoskwak 5