The Slovak National Gallery is preparing an exhibition about two household names of Czech and Slovak modern art, Emil Filla (1882 - 1953) and Ľudovít Fulla (1902 - 1980), as part of the Made in Czechoslovakia project dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia.
Even though these two artists were not exactly contemporaries - Filla was twenty years older than Fulla - their role in establishing Modern art in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is key and, in a way, comparable.
They both belong among the most prominent figures of Czech and Slovak art in the 20th century, their art opened new and radical paths for the local art scene, bringing in avant-garde ideas from Europe. The first one with more consequential approach, the second one with more "barbaric" synthesis. They both began as "revolutionaries" and "missionaries" of new art, however, they both abandoned these positions and were later (both in different periods) "officialised". Most of their life and work took place in the Czechoslovak Republic (with a short exception of the existence of the Protectorate and the Slovak State between 1939 and 1945). As Czechoslovak citizens, they represented the rise and success of Czech and Slovak art on the wider international scene, participated in the social life of the country as well as art education of its citizens. In the 1950s, they were both accused of formalism, afflicted by dogmatism and had to deal with the officially proclaimed Social Realism.
The exhibition will look at the comparisons and parallels as well as differences and specifics (even contradictions) between the artistic and personal lives of these two individuals with the emphasis on their unique creative talents, the inner features of their work, as well as the external socio-cultural contexts. Emil Filla was a multifaceted creator, not only a painter but also a sculptor and graphic artist. He possessed a keen intellect, working also as a collector, theoretician, as well as historian and writer, already working on organising of cultural events in Bohemia before the First World War and in the interwar period. A generation younger, Ľudovít Fulla grew up among the Prague cultural milieu.
During his time in Slovakia, he also dedicated himself to theoretical discourse on modern art and progressively oriented pedagogical work. In an original and unique way, they both transposed contemporary art trends (mainly cubism) and inspiration from older artworks in the case of Filla it was the old Dutch masters, in the case of Fulla medieval painting and iconography), asking questions about modernism and tradition in their works and confronting the issues of "Europeness" and national identity - national myth, inspiring themselves with folk art, folklore and reacting to social dilemmas of their times. The exhibited works come from the collections of the Slovak National Gallery, Czech galleries, and private properties.