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Lot #132 

Běla Kolářová


assemblage (matches) on paper
51 x 43 cm
Estimate: 1,500,000 CZK - 2,500,000 CZK
Starting price: 1,300,000 CZK
Hammer price:
1,300,000 CZK
This excellent assemblage made of an unusual material within the artist’s portfolio represents the work of one of the most interesting Czech artists of the second half of the 20th century, Běla Kolářová. Although her work remained in the shadow of her husband Jiří Kolář for most of her life, she ceaselessly strived to find her own artistic expression. At first, photography became the mainstay of her, but the process of developing was more important to her than photographing itself, and through the lighting of various objects she achieved very original experimental results. The mid-1960s is an important milestone for Kolářová, as she rejected photography for the second time and entered a new phase of work with relief assemblages, using the most ordinary objects of everyday use. Therefore her works are sometimes understood as the embodiment of women’s art – she created the assemblages of snap fasteners, safety pins, ripped out threads, fragments of razor blades, and paper clips. She used some of the materials in whole sets of works, showing the wide range of possibilities for their assembly and the resulting effects. This time, however, she created the composition of matches, which appear rather sporadically in her work. This work perfectly demonstrates her emphasis on the tension between the abstract order and a real subject in a serial use. In addition, the internal strength of the composition is amplified by its asymmetry. The restless dynamic is also emphasised by the density and length of the matches, reaching their peak in the centre of the composition. The work was exhibited several times, for example at the exhibition Experiment, Order, Intimacy: The Feminine Patterns of Běla Kolářová (Olomouc Museum of Art, 2006, published in the catalogue, cat. No. 73 (155), p. 76), in the National Gallery in Prague in the same year at the artist’s monographic exhibition, in the catalogue of which it is reproduced in full page (Běla Kolářová, 2006), and in the Museum Kampa (Běla Kolářová, Prague, 2008, p. 126). It was also exhibited in 2013 in the Raven Row Gallery in London. Assessed during consultations by PhDr. K. Srp and PhDr. J. Machalický. From the attached expertise by prof. doc. PhDr. M. Klimešová, Ph.D.: “[...] This usually sober artist this time allowed her emotionality to be manifested directly, by a direct attack to the centre, led from all sides. The long matches indicate the direction and condition the transformation of the usual segments, the components of which, the small matches, are forced on all sides also to turn into the core of the composition. [...]”