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Lot #162 

Mikuláš Medek (1926–1974)

The World of an Onion II

oil on masonite
62.5 × 50 cm
Estimate: 20,000,000 CZK - 30,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 14,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
14,200,000 CZK

The World of an Onion II belongs to Medek’s early period of work, which is rarely found on the market. It demonstrates the artist’s interest in nature and, specifically, biology, which he was going to study after graduating from the Academic Grammar School in Prague. During the war, however, the universities were closed, and in the fourth year of grammar school young Medek was captivated by visual arts, so he decided to transfer to the State Graphics School in Prague. In the last year of the war, his entire class was deployed. Medek’s deep moral beliefs and fighting spirit led him, as a member of an illegal student group, to participate in the Prague uprising in 1945 with the defenders of the Old Town Hall. After it was set on fire, he fled through the sewers. In the same year, he joined the atelier of prof. V. Minář and V. Rada at the Prague Academy, and after the first semester he transferred to the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague to František Muzika’s atelier. The presented canvas comes from this very difficult and mentally demanding year for Medek. In addition to his unwavering interest in biology, it also reveals the artist’s immense talent, deep education in art, and intellectual background. He executed it when he was only 19 years old, yet it shows his orientation in contemporary modern painting, originality, and the ability of self-expression. In the years 1945–1948, Medek worked on paintings close to organic surrealism, which we can recognise in the set The World of an Onion (four paintings from 1945–1947, including The World of an Onion II), the set Miraculous Mother (three paintings from 1947), and two paintings both entitled Infantile Landscape (1947). The presented work was exhibited at Mikuláš Medek’s solo exhibition at the Regional Gallery in Hradec Králové in 1969 (cat. No. 2) and at his solo exhibition at Prague’s Rudolfinum in 2002 (p. 3, cat. No. 5). It was also published in the catalogue of Mikuláš Medek’s solo exhibition at the House of Arts Brno and the National Gallery (Municipal Library in Prague) from 1990 (p. 36) and in the Atelier magazine, No. 13, 27/06/2002, p. 9. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. E. Kosáková-Medková, art historian and the artist’s daughter. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.