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Gallery Rudolfinum

Only a few European towns have changed so often and so radically their position as Prague. The seat of emperors Charles IV and Rudolph II, on whose courts leading world artists were acting, was during a 300-year long-rule of the Habsburg dynasty only a provincial shadow of Vienna. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became, however, an important centre of artistic avant-guarde as well. The cubism started to gain ground in Prague only little later than in Paris and its representatives created, in Bohemia, quite a unique cubistic architecture not existing anywhere else in the world. František Kupka was painting some of his first abstract pictures as early as around 1910 in Prague and there was hardly anywhere else such a breeding-ground for the surrealism as in the Czech metropolis (up to the present day, a surrealistic revue „Analogon" is being published there). Happy years of a prosperous and democratic Czechoslovakia, founded in 1918, lasted, however, only two decades and were followed by a Nazi occupation in 1939 and by a Communist putsch nine years later. A totalitarian Communist regime brought Czechoslovakia into a cultural isolation. The country managed to get rid of it only a little and only for a short time during the period of a political liberalization in the 60ies, when, in the international context, representatives of a new wave of a Czechoslovak cinematography shined up - Miloš Forman, Věra Chytilová and Jiří Menzel or playwrights Milan Kundera, Josef Škvorecký and Václav Havel. But Soviet tanks ended bloodily a relative freedom of the Prague spring in August 1968 and introduced two decades of the so-called normalization, when, under the rule of one party, there were so many obligations and so little was allowed. Only after the Velvet Revolution, in November 1989, the surrounding world started to discover gradually qualities of the Czech art, almost forgotten and held in secrecy, which, in a short euphoria, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, participated in several important film and theatre festivals or was presented in prestigious galleries and museums. But the interest for works from countries of the former Soviet bloc did not last for a long time and was replaced soon by enthusiasm for creation from China, Japan or Latin America. Nowadays, the Czech art gains ground in Western Europe or in the USA with difficulty and only sporadically. Maybe the photography succeeds best.

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