Six incredible Czech artists under one roof

As a visitor to Prague it is difficult to ignore the prominence of artists such as Alfons Mucha. Yet, while Mucha’s work sets him apart from the other artists and his Slav Epic projects him up there in company of Michelangelo and his Sistine Chapel, other Czech artists deserve to be mentioned.

Mostly ignored in his lifetime Alen Divis‘ turning point was when he was imprisoned in France during the Nazi occupation for political reasons. During solitary confinement the inscriptions and the graffiti left on the walls by the previous cell occupants changed his art forever. Divis’ atmospeheres are gloomy, dark and melanchonic and his perception often hallucinated.

Alen Divis Christ

Despite the boring landscape art that Jaroslav Panuska produced in his career this painter made some incredibly haunting art. Ghosts, vampires and witches are the subject of his best works but the creatures he depicts feel like they are the first victims of their condition, a bit like the Nosferatu that Klaus Kinski depicts in Herzog’s movie and that remorsefully kills for blood. Panuska’s creatures mostly look harmless even if scary.

Jaroslav Panuska

Bohumil Kubista produced an art in which cubism and expressionism blend to speak mostly of existentialist subjects. But even as he embraced cubism as a way to better convey the spirit of the time, Kubista did so in his own very personal way by joining his fascination of mathematics and geometry with color theory.

Bohumil Kubista

In a brave and unorthodox comparison you could say that Jakub Schikaneder is the Czech Rembrandt. Schikaneder is a master of light and his subjects are often poor and lonely people depicted in the early evening light where often a lampost shines a faint light.

Jakub Schikaneder

The very prolific Frantisek Kupka was blessed by a long life. His production spanned multiple styles from cubism to abstract but some of his best works are part of his expressionist and symbolist production. Kupka paid an obsessive attention to colors trying to go beyond their superficial meaning.

Frantisek Kupka Babylon

So as you can see Czechoslovak art deserves its place in the world. The best part, though, is that you can enjoy the paintings of these artists in one single museum in Prague: Veletrzni Palac; here next to the names we mentioned you will find many other artists that will amaze you, so remember to keep a pen and a notebook handy to take some notes of what you like. But the beauty of Veletrzni Palac isn’t all in the perspective it can give you on Central-European art: this is a world class museum on its own right and you’ll be gifted by incredible pieces by Picasso, Braque, Degas, Seurat, Klimt, Van Gogh and many others.

Picasso Self Portrait

Veletrzni Palac is also the place where you can admire Mucha’s famous Slav Epic: his representation of the history of Slavic people. This is a highly complex work full of references and allegories painted on twenty large canvases. To truly appreciate it, it is recommended that you take your time and come in fully rested because to have a chance at understanding it you’ll have to read through the whole booklet.

Mucha Slav Epic

Of course this is a very partial list of the marvels stored in Veletrzni Palac and many, many more artists would deserve to be mentioned. But, besides what’s contained in this museum, who do you think are other forgotten great Czech painters worth rediscovering?

2 thoughts on “Six incredible Czech artists under one roof”

  • My name is Joe Pinzone and I’m casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We’d love to film in Czech Republic and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The contributors on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed.  If you’d like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you. 

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

  • Schikaneder and Kupka are two of the most famous, and I hafta say, I like their art. Yes, it may seem a bit schizofrenic for someone, but this one is really good – it’s not that depressive and embracing. 

    There’s also another kind of art – the escape rooms, just to mention – check it out here:
    Combined with overall Prague atmosphere they may seem gloomy, but actually greatly underlining the spirit of this city. 🙂

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