Dana our host has to work, so we are skiving off by having a lie in. But there is much more to be seen and we have great ambitions for the day, so we are under way by 10:30.
We skip the Mucha museum because Kampa Island also has some Mucha. Instead we climb on the tram for the National Galleriy’s modern art centre. They have three main collections, Czech art of nineteenth and twentieth century, Fench impressionists and selection of Viennese and German expressionists including some Klimt and some very good Kokoscka and some more contemporary artists There are also special exhibitions, one in particular I am keen to see, “Artists and Phrophets” which a has Bueys, Kupka, Hundertwasser and others.
The Czech gallery has mainly unknown, deservedly, 19th century works, apart from an arresting salon painting of a massacre of Adamites by Hussites. Apparently Adamites were a sect which believed in going about naked, like Adam I suppose. I didn’t know that! They were violently suppressed by the followers of Jan Huss, who were, of course, themselves heretical according to catholic authorities.
We skipped the impressionists to save time and went straight through to the moderns. Some pics below.
Charles Bridge Oscar Kokoshka
TheCruel History of Our Times, Emilio Vedova
Then the main event, Artist and Prophets. These artists are known as the Vienna Secession, and some of them are very strange, advocating nudism, at least for children, adults could wear simple homemade clothes. Harking back to the Adamites perhaps. There is a group photo, looking like an unsuccessful dress up party. Others went about barefooted and scantily clothed, identifying themselves with Jesus, one baptising his child in a mountain stream, causing it to perish.
The first room is dedicated to a frieze Per Aspera ad Astra, by Karl Diefenbach, black silhouette figures on white ground form a parade of frolicking figures, mostly childlike and nude, some dressed in simple quasi Greek robes. There are also ape like figures, playing musical instruments, so clearly evolved.
Sample as postcard
Another with the pseudonym Fidus, had mystical and Theosophical notions, and promoted “biological hygiene”, whatever that may be. He designed and made intricate models of “earth temples” unlikely ever to have been built. At once fantastical grandiose and oppressive.
Model of Earth temple
I don’t really know what to make of them, proto hippies or proto nazis? Perhaps a bit of both.
Well they are a fascinating glimpse into a largely forgotten movement, even if they are sometimes lumped with the symbolists, and, oh dear we have run out of time for Kampa Island, and we are meeting our host at the Charles bridge, so have to fly.
Tomorrow to Vienna by bus.