Central European Avant-Gardes: Exchange and Transformation, 1910–1930
LOS ANGELES • Los Angeles County Museum of Art • Ongoing
|The exhibition examines the cross-fertilization among the artistic avant-garde movements in Belgrade, Berlin, Bucharest, Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Warsaw, and other cities, during the evolution of modernism between 1910 and 1930. In Central Europe the social milieu of artists and intelligentsia—what we call the avant-garde—constantly reinvented and restructured itself, becoming an international cosmopolitan community whose unprecedented cohesion and influence are still felt today. Through approximately 300 examples of painting, sculpture, works on paper, photographs and applied art objects, and by identifying events and locations where such intercultural dialogue took place, the exhibition demonstrates the process of exchange and transformation among the cultures of the ethnically diverse communities of Central Europe. |
The exhibition identifies events (exhibitions and performances) and situations (artists’ groups, publishing ventures, galleries, cafes, and schools) where such intercultural exchange took place. Here artists sought to impart political ideologies, disrupt the status quo, and build new alliances and communities. They were well aware of the art world beyond, including Italian Futurism, French Cubism, German Expressionism, and Russian Constructivism. Artists of the Prague group “Skupina” traveled to Paris between 1909 and 1914. Called “Czech Cubism,” their paintings, sculptures, furniture and ceramics were imbued with a vocabulary of faceted crystalline forms, based on Prague’s well-preserved Bohemian baroque facades as well as the German Expressionist works they so much admired. As a premiere example Central European Avant-Gardes presents a suite of Czech Cubist furniture by Josef Gocar for the first time in a touring exhibition.
Several environments in Central European Avant-Gardes are inspired by the artists’ own exhibitions: Skupina in 1912-14, Bauhaus in 1923, and the Czech Devetsil group’s Bazaar of Modern Art in 1923. Devetsil was fascinated by jazz (examples by Devetsil composer Jaroslav Jezek can be heard in the exhibition), popular entertainment (classic stage routines by members Jiri Voskovec and Jan Werich also can be heard), photography, and film of the modern age. Rarely seen photographs by Jaromir Funke and Jaroslav Rössler are also included. Czech artists invented several “isms” including “Artificialism” (Styrsky and Toyen) and “Poetism,” intended by Teige to end all “isms.” A playful celebration of life (and critique of constructivism)
The show was first on view earlier this spring at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and will travel to Berlin after Munich.
A catalogue is available:
Curator Timothy O. Benson, ed., Central European Avant-Gardes: Exchange and Transformation, 1910–1930, a catalogue published by MIT Press along with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Between Worlds: A Sourcebook on the Central European Avant-Gardes, 1920-1930, a source book edited by Timothy O. Benson and Eva Forgacs, published by Los Angeles County Museum of Art and MIT Press, 2002.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
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