International art of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries
The international art collection of the National Gallery in Prague contains works by distinguished figures of the world of art. There is an extensive group of artworks by Austrian and German artists, among them Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka, as well as August Brömse and Emil Orlik. The expressive paintings of Edvard Munch and those of the Russian avant-garde artists Aristarkh Lentulov and Robert Falk are worthy of particular distinction. Spanish art comprises paintings by Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies and Antoni Clavé.
The National Gallery’s famous French collection harks back to the 1920s when it was constituted with the aid of Czechoslovakia’s leading political and cultural personalities, including President Tomáš Guarrigue Masaryk himself and art collector and connoisseur Vincenc Kramář. The French collection holds many paintings by Auguste Rodin, Eugène Delacroix, the French landscapists Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir and artists who paved the way for modern art: Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Georges Seurat. The Gallery also boasts unique Cubist paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and artists who lived and worked in Paris: Marc Chagall, Pierre Bonnard and Maurice de Vlaminck.
Czech art from Modernism to the present
The story of Czech modern art begins in the mid-19th century. The art collection traces its development through the strongly represented artistic generations and individual artists, among them the chief exponents of Realism Viktor Barvitius and Karel Purkyně, the National Theatre Generation – Alphonse Mucha, Josef Václav Myslbek and Vojtěch Hynais, and artists espousing the Art Nouveau and Symbolism – Alphonse Mucha, Max Pirner and František Bílek. The founding generation of modern artists is represented by Antonín Slavíček, Jan Preisler and Max Švabinský. The National Gallery also houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by František Kupka that documents the painter’s advance from Symbolism to abstract art.
The story of Czech art continues with an installation of works by avant-garde groups – Osma (The Eight) and Skupina výtvarných umělců (The Group of Fine Artists), notably works by Emil Filla, Bohumil Kubišta, Antonín Procházka, Otakar Kubin (Othon Cubin) and Otto Gutfreund. Besides Cubist paintings, Cubism is also shown in architecture and design. The Gallery features rich holdings of paintings created by members of the group Tvrdošíjní (The Stubborn) – Jan Zrzavý, Václav Špála, Josef Čapek and Rudolf Kremlička.
Czech art produced after 1930 includes works by Jindřich Štyrský, Toyen, František Janoušek, Josef Šíma, Zdeněk Pešánek, Skupina 42 (Group 42), Zdenek Rykr, Alén Diviš, Mikuláš Medek and Zbyněk Sekal. Furthermore, the permanent collection also explores artistic movements from the 1960s up to the present: Art Informel, Action Art, New Sensitivity and postmodern art.
Contemporary art projects
The ground floor of the Trade Fair Palace, open to visitors all year round and free of charge, houses three periodical projects of contemporary art. These are:
The Moving Image Department: A space devoted to the moving image, presenting works of art via new media technology
Introducing: The small Presidential Salon as a place for the youngest generation of artists
Poetry Passage: the Functionalist staircase as a three-dimensional poem
The Trade Fair Palace
Formerly intended for trade fairs, this gem of Czech Functionalist architecture has been the seat of the National Gallery in Prague from 1976. Built in 1925–1928 after the plans of architects Josef Fuchs and Oldřich Tyl, the imposing building was the largest edifice of its kind in the world. First it served the Prague Sample Trade Fairs company and, after the war, it housed various foreign trade companies. The history of the building was dramatically affected on August 14, 1974, when it was nearly destroyed by a huge fire that took six days (until August 20) before being quenched. In 1976, a decision was made to renovate the building; the reconstruction progressed slowly and was finally completed in the 1990s.
|free admission for children, young people aged under 18 and students under 26 free.|
Tram 6, 17 – Veletržní palác
Tram 1, 6, 8, 12, 17, 25, 26 – Strossmayerovo náměstí