October 28, 2021
NATIONAL GALLERY IN PRAGUE, EXHIBITION “ART OF THE LONG CENTURY”
Autumn is the perfect time for travel combined with visits to famous art galleries. Today we encourage you to visit Prague in the Czech Republic, located on the Vltava River one of the most visited cities in Europe. Prague in its current form was founded in 1784, with numerous galleries and museums it is now the central art centre of the Czech Republic. When visiting this beautiful city, do not miss the National Gallery, hosting many excellent exhibitions. One of them is the extremely interesting exhibition Art of the Long Century.
The exhibition 1796-1918: Art of the Long Century deliberately and naturally combines Czech and international art. Unlike previous permanent exhibitions at the National Gallery in Prague, the artworks on display do not include loans from other museums and galleries to fill gaps in the collection. The exhibition shows what the National Gallery in Prague has collected during its more than 220-year history in a broad context. The artists are therefore naturally represented unevenly – on the one hand compact and representative collections, and on the other more or less accidentally acquired or occasional acquisitions.
The resulting selection presents over 450 artworks by 150 artists in three main chapters: Man, World and Ideas. Both painting and sculpture are presented in the exhibition. Free sculpture is accompanied by paintings. Public sculpture is a separate section paraphrasing the three main themes in the sections Architecture, Monument and Tombstone taking into account the chosen approach and the availability of exhibits.
Therefore, in the exhibition you can see side by side artists with different views on art and very different generations, such as Josef Mánes next to Pablo Picasso, Josef Navrátil next to Bohumil Kubišta or Antonio Canova next to Franz von Stuck. The thematic division of the exhibition allowed it to be divided into many small subgroups of artworks representing independent sections, ranging from self-portraits, family and official portraits, to images of cafés, bustling city boulevards, spring landscapes, mountain lakes or works on religious or mythological themes.
The two exhibitions creatively employing 19th-century visual means deviate from the plan to present only works of art from the NGP collection. While exhibition architect Jiří Příhoda used footage provided by the National Gallery in Prague in his three-channel projection, the design team of the Najbrt Graphic Studio created an impressive collage of posters on loan from the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the National Theatre Archive and the Military Historical Institute in Prague. The two authentically contemporary interventions build on the basic idea of the exhibition – to outline the world of the 19th century man. They have become an integral part of the project and evidence of the inspiring nature of the artistic legacy of the long century for the society of the 21st century.
The period examined actually spans three centuries, including the last. However, contemporary attitudes to 19th-century history are often ambivalent – near and distant. The society and culture of the time, including art, underwent significant changes which often have a great impact on the present day as well. On the other hand, a nineteenth-century person would not understand today’s fascinating and sharp debates about gender or ecological problems. However, there are questions that the society of the long century has asked itself. That is why today one tries to look at art history differently or to “read” the art of the past differently. All this is characterised by a certain departure from the traditional national schools of art and art-historical studies. In this respect, we find ourselves in the middle of an extremely fruitful and inspiring debate, fostering a radical change in the telling of “art history”.
The exhibition features two small graphic cabinets displaying the rich artefacts of the Collection of Prints and Drawings from the period under study.
National Gallery in Prague