Jaromír Funke and Avant-garde Photography in Czechoslovakia 1900–1950
Location: 3rd floor, B-wing
The exhibition is a continuation of Kumu Art Museum’s aspirations to introduce the history of world photography, displaying the forceful modernist photography school from Czechoslovakia.
“We plan to open up a new aspect in the art revolution which took place in Central Europe and in which the Estonians also participated through the activities of the Group of Estonian Artists,” says Eha Komissarov, the coordinator of the exhibition. “The display provides us with an overview of how amateurs and artists discovered innovative and creative solutions while subjecting photographic imagery to the principles of modernist art.”
The exhibition sets the development of avant-garde art in the constantly changing political context of the 20th century.
“In the 1930s, Czech photographers followed the example of Man Ray and abandoned cubism and constructivism. In the 1940s, the Nazis and Communists banned surrealism, which nevertheless blossomed in the following decade, the 1950s,” Komissarov explains. According to her, art circles in Estonia observed the tumultuous success story of the Czechoslovakian visual culture during the mid-century and witnessed its transformation into a freedom movement as the events led towards the Prague Spring. Pre-war Prague is now recognised as the third major centre of surrealism, next to Paris and Brussels, and the photographic legacy from Czechoslovakia has earned its place in the history of European modern art.
The Kumu exhibition focuses on Jaromír Funke (1896–1945), the leading figure in Czech modernist photography. He was a versatile intellectual whose range of interests covered visual arts, literature and music, and he was also an influential critic, activist, editor and teacher. Among his other achievements, Funke was one of the first photographers to work with photo series.
The curator of the exhibition, Antonín Dufek, has selected a total of 161 works from 48 artists. The display has been structured in thematic blocks and sections that introduce the oeuvre of six influential art groupings: the Surrealist Group in Czechoslovakia, Group 42, Seven in October, Group Ra, Photoline (fotolinie) and the photogroup of five.
Curator: Antonín Dufek
Co-ordinator: Eha Komissarov
Näitusekujundus ja graafiline disain: Tuuli Aule
Embassy of the Czech Republic