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Lot #82  –  91st Auction Day by KODL Gallery  (5/26/2024)
This lot has 1 limit

František Muzika

Elsinore IV

oil on cardboard
signed lower right
39.5 × 35 cm
Estimate: 1,500,000 CZK - 2,500,000 CZK
Starting price: 1,200,000 CZK
Current price:
1,200,000 CZKEUR

This mysterious and aesthetically impressive work by František Muzika, an important representative of Czech interwar modernism, is part of the Elsinore cycle with which he rounded off his artistic career. František Muzika first gradually adopted Picasso’s neoclassicism. Afterwards, he connected his aesthetic views with the artists from the Devětsil generation (an association of Czech avant-garde artists), which started inclining towards imaginative painting. At the end of his work, he moved in yet another direction, towards distinctive artistic poetics that developed smoothly in a free connection with the world art informel development, which he approached with his peculiar form and contents. In the post-war period, Muzika fully immersed himself in his organic universe of natural microstructures and fantastic architecture. His inner world was filled with interconnected meanings, which resulted in each of his later paintings carrying a unique expression. 

The origin of the form essence of the Elsinore paintings began to take shape with the Citadel cycle in the 1940s, and he created the first definitive works in the first half of the 1960s. The magical cycle combines unified spiritual content and symbolism, to which the form of the works is subordinated. Executed in delicate brushwork, the intricately elaborated outer mass on the monumental silhouette takes the form of organic tissue covering the entire surface of the stone block, which is supposed to be a remnant of the mythical ruin from Shakespeare’s tragedy of Hamlet. The inaccessible fortress, located on the very threshold of nothingness, evoking the entrance gate to the realm of non-being, was once a fortress of the spirit, a place of perfect psychic concentration. Now, it is a system of blind staircases leading from nowhere to nowhere, symbolising a parable about temporality and the inevitable finitude of human destiny. Muzika’s inner world was self-absorbed and strongly intertwined in meaning, which is why each of his late paintings carries a unique expression.

Elsinore IV was presented immediately after its execution at an exhibition in the Fronta Gallery (New paintings by František Muzika, Fronta Exhibition Hall, Prague, 1 December 1963 – 1 January 1964, cat. No. 44) and at the artist’s comprehensive exhibition in the Wallenstein Riding School (František Muzika (1900–1974): Paintings, Drawings, Stage Designs, Book Graphics, National Gallery Prague, 17 September – 1 November 1981, cat. No. 124). It was published in the artist’s monograph by František Šmejkal (František Muzika, Prague 1966, not pag., fig. 169), on the cover of which was used the lithograph version of the work, which proves its importance to the author. The current owner acquired it at the aforementioned exhibition in the Fronta Gallery. The collectible value is enhanced by the artist’s inventory number 833 on the reverse of the canvas. Assessed during consultations by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., and prof. J. Zemina. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

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