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Národní Galerie Praha / Trade Fair Palace

We went for a short visit to Prague last weekend and walked over 30 miles within 3 days to explore the city. One of our first destinations was the Narodni Muzeum at the Trade Fair Location. It is at least a little confusing, but spread over Prague there are about six Narodni museums on all kinds of subjects. This Trade Fair Palace was the one i had on my list for a long time and been wanting to visit for some decades now, but never had a chance to, because Prague was out of the way for us but this weekend we finally went and were not disappointed. At the time of its construction (completed in 1928), this was the largest building of its kind in the world and the first Functionalist building in Prague. Today it serves the needs of the National Gallery. Knowing its age you must admire its architecture….a true avant-garde building which is unique, but because of its functionality hard to admire. It looks old and worn but the light within the buildling is unique.

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It houses one of the best International collections i have ever seen and its historic value is beyond any doubt. One of the first rooms you enter consists of a mini exhibition which , organized elsewhere would draw hundreds of thousands of visitors. The quality of the paintings and sculptures is superb and deserves to be visited and admired by many more than the handful of visitors we encountered during our visit.

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The small room houses a Picasso, Matisse, Bonnard, Seurat, Monet, Renoir, Degas statue, Maillol and ( personally i am not a great van Gogh fan) a spectacular and beautiful van Gogh.

We were so surprised to find so many of these beautiful paintings and to discover some great Czech art. It was a very nice visit and made us even more like the collection, because we specially came to visit the Giacometti exhibition, but in it’s wake we were treated on some of the most beautiful and surprising art i have seen lately.

Of course www.ftn-books.com has on all these artists some nice publications.

 

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Alfons Mucha (1860-1939)

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For me Mucha was a great way to start appreciating art. Together with Henri de Toulouse Lautrec ( roughly from the same period), Alfons Mucha was the artist i appreciated the most in my mid teenage period. Accessible art and still a little bit more avant garde than the Impressionist painters who were widely appreciated in those days. Mucha was THE Art Nouveau artist and together with some French and Belgian artist was the top in Art Nouveau art. The art of Alfons Mucha is highly recognizable. The use of women models who look straight at you is one of his trademarks.

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Since for me personally a lot has changed. From the accessible Art Nouveau by Mucha i made a “travel” through art history which resulted in appreciating Minimal and conceptual art. Still Mucha has a lot of quality and for those seeking a nice work by an Art Nouveau , please include the works by Mucha, since there are many extremely nice prints now available since this artist is copyright free. For those looking for some publications on Mucha , visit www.ftn-books.com

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Jan Saudek (1935)

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I begin this blog on Jan Saudek with a quote i found on AZQuote:

I believe all artists, if they are not lying to themselves, must believe that the best part of their work, or even their life, is in front of them. To look only to the past and to say ‘those were the best years, when I was young’ is to say that in the future there is nothing.

Saudek has become a household name in photography after Benedikt Taschen decided to publish his photo’s in cheap but beautiful glossy books. These books made his name among photography lovers and not only because of their quality, but also because of their subjects. Saudek never did censor himself and used many models all from his direct surroundings and family and photographed them being their complete self.

These photo’s are so typical Saudek that his works can never be mistaken to have been taken by somebody else. In an instant you can see that they are Saudek’s. In the mid eighties, Art Unlimited…an Amsterdam based publisher , began to publish his postcards and with this publication the great popularity of Saudek’s photo’s began. After this initial introduction to the art world large exhibits and gallery presentations followed ( gallery TORCH). Now his photography is available to all, because of the many publications there ghave been with Saudek photographs, but the originals are available only to a few because they have become far too expensive for ordinary collectors to collect. www.ftn-books.com has some nice publications on Saudel. Part of which is printed by Rosbeek, which i believe is the very best printer for these great photo’s