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Lot #167  –  91st Auction Day by KODL Gallery  (5/26/2024)

František Muzika


oil on canvas
signed lower right
100 × 120 cm
Estimate: 8,000,000 CZK - 12,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 6,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
7,700,000 CZKEUR

This early work of František Muzika, summarising the efforts of the then-new generation, belongs among the most important works of Czech interwar art. Neither academic approach nor post-impressionism had a decisive influence on the work of this exceptionally mature artistic personality, but rather the inspiring environment of the Devětsil group. In 1919, the painter met Karel Teige, Alois Wachsman and Jaroslav Seifert, with whom he shared common interests, ideals and opinions, and thus became fully involved in the creation of a new art style, with which the young avant-garde from Devětsil first announced its existence. However, he remained a member of Devětsil only until 1922. Shortly after that, together with several other artists, including Adolf Hoffmeister and Bedřich Piskač, he founded New Group (Nová skupina), which soon held an independent and for Czech modern art crucial exhibition in Mánes (II. Spring Exhibition, Mánes, Prague, April – May 1923), where the presented painting was exhibited. In Muzika’s style, this painting represents a turning point and, at the same time, the culmination and symbolic closure of his previous neoclassical paintings from 1922 (Oldřich and Božena; Shepherd and Two Young Women; Three Young Women; Two Sisters), after which the transformation of his style and his inclination towards new objectivity started.

Nothing disturbs the calmness of this timeless scene, the ideal tranquillity in which the landscape has a supporting character in unified colour shades. By simplifying the physical volume of the figures, the painter achieved a concentrated, balanced composition that makes a monumental, almost three-dimensional impression. The whole scene is balanced by a delicate colour harmony of pink, brown and green tones, giving the work a fragile impression, contrasting with the stiffness of the characters and being the bearer of poetic expression. Muzika’s poetic imagination and the captivating simplicity of his works brought even the most traditional subject matters and the plainer reality to the level of lyrical expression.

After presentation at the Spring Exhibition in 1923 (II. Spring Exhibition, Mánes, Prague, cat. No. 30, sale price 2 500 CSK), the painting was presented at the cardinal exhibition of Muzika’s work, which took place in 1964 (František Muzika: Paintings from 1920–1964, Regional Gallery in Hradec Králové, 7. 6. – 5. 7. 1964, cat. No. 9; František Muzika: Paintings from 1920–1964, Regional Gallery in Liberec, 19. 7. – 16. 8. 1964, cat. No. 9). Later on, it was presented at the artist’s retrospective exhibition, organised by the National Gallery Prague (František Muzika: Paintings, Drawings, Stage Designs, Book Graphics, Wallenstein Riding School, Prague, September – October 1981, cat. No. 11) and at the exhibition Czech Neoclassicism (Prague City Gallery, Old Town Hall, 3 December 1985 – 5 January 1986, cat. No. 147, reproduced in the catalogue). František Šmejkal dealt with the work in more detail in the artist’s monograph (F. Šmejkal: František Muzika, Prague 1966, p. 32, fig. No. 11). Its first owner was Muzika’s friend, the architect and student of Josef Gočár, Karel Stráník, who worked in Le Corbusier’s studio in the early 1920s. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

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