Moderna: Gallery of Modern Art
The introduction of the modern collection exposition recalls the late Impressionist painting of Alois Kalvoda, a native of Šlapanice, and the work of Jakub Obrovský, a native of Brno. Both were members of the Club of Friends of Art, which developed a rich exhibition activity focused primarily on presenting the works of Czech painters and sculptors before the First World War.
One of the most valuable museum collections includes the works of Antonín Procházka, who lived in Brno from 1924. The presented works provide a comprehensive view of the development the artist: from his early expressively conceived paintings of the Osma generation, through the key works of Procházka's Cubist period and the civilist themes drawn from the social atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s, to the antique-inspired creations of the artist's final phase of life. In harmony with her husband's work, Linka Procházková was also an artist, especially in the 1930s. The exposition emphasizes the works of artists active in the 1920s and 1930s within the Group of Visual Artists in Brno, in which the most progressive personalities of Brno's culture – painters, sculptors, architects, as well as prominent art historians and collectors – came together. Inseparably linked to Brno is the work of Jaroslav Král, whose classicist focus, despite its undeniable relevance and connection to modern trends in contemporary art, best reflects the social and cultural climate of interwar Brno.
In addition to the founding members of the Group of Visual Artists in Brno – Josef Šíma, František Süsser, Josef Zamazal, Ferdiš Duša, Eduard Milén, and others – early and later abstract works of František Foltýn are also presented. After returning from Paris, he chose Brno as his second home. Among the prominent artistic personalities of the younger generation was the painter František Kaláb, who sought a unique poetic expression in his paintings. As for sculptural works, the focus is primarily on the works of Josef Kubíček, which evolved from the expressively tuned social themes of the 1920s to the classicist wooden female sculptures of the later period. In the late 1930s, Vincenc Makovský started his work in Moravia, and his sculptures are represented from avant-garde positions to works heading towards realism.
Lastly, in Brno's interwar culture, the design activities of architect Bohuslav Fuchs also held an indispensable place. After 1932, he designed glass and ceramic collections, vases, and bowls, as well as small objects made of alpaca, characterized by clean geometric shapes, for the Aka company, led by his wife Drahomíra Fuchsová, which specialized in hand-woven textiles.
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Among the artists outside of Brno, Emil Filla was a regular exhibitor with the Group of Visual Artists. Drawn to Brno by family ties and a long-standing friendship with Antonín Procházka, Filla's participation in the exhibitions contributed to the city's artistic environment. Josef Šíma's exhibitions in 1931 and 1936 also held significant importance for Brno's art scene, as his work influenced numerous artists within the country, including members of the Group such as Jiří Krejčí from Prague and František Malý from Bratislava.
Since 2016, the exhibitions expanded beyond painting and sculpture to include graphic art. In autumn 2015, visitors had the opportunity to view 94 original rare copper engravings, etchings, drawings, and other prints dating from the Baroque to Romanticism period. Due to the sensitivity of the graphics to light, they were displayed for a short period and then replaced with carefully crafted copies, now part of the permanent exhibition. Despite variations in format and subject matter, all the displayed graphics share a connection with Brno. Scenes of the local square, newly constructed fountains, monasteries, and academic theses announcements blend with church prints and illustrations from authors who resided in Brno. While not all graphics originated from Brno, some were printed by notable figures, like the large view of Zelné trhu with the newly built Parnassus by Brno councilor Johann Ignaz Dechau in Augsburg's renowned workshop.
The exhibition also highlights the contributions of artists from Brno or associated with the city. Notable names include Ignaz Johann Bendl, Josef Svítil, Josef Axmann, and František Xaver Rektořík, who were not only active creators but also art collectors. Their collections, together with Heinrich Gomperz's bequest, formed the basis of the emerging city museum's art collections during the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Gomperz, a Jewish businessman, left his legacy to the beloved city of Brno, and his bust is on display in the exhibition.
The interwar generation of painters and sculptors in Brno embraced a classicizing style in the late 1930s, influenced by the sense of social threat from the impending war.
During the war, young artists associated with the Ra cancer group, Václav Zykmund, and Bohdan Lacina, met in Brno. Their surrealist works promised a bright future for Brno's culture and brought new creative impulses to the city. Bohumír Matal's paintings, created after his return from Germany in 1945, were closely associated with the artistic viewpoint of Group 42. However, after February 1948, the development of art in the country was suppressed in the following years.