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Sep 24, 2020 7:00 PM

Art Talk: Journeys into American Museums - Kupka, Kolar, Jetelova

Czech Center New York presents an online art talk by acclaimed curator of visual arts, Milena Kalinovska, focusing on three accomplished Czech artists of three different generations and their individual journeys to American museums. Join us on Zoom to hear about how Frantisek Kupka, Jiri Kolar, and Magdalena Jetelova won recognition on the American and global art scene and see their most groundbreaking artwork.



Recording of the of the Zoom Event on September 24th 2020


Frantisek Kupka, Jiri Kolar, and Magdalena Jetelova. How do these three Czech artists fit into the global art world? In her art talk, Milena Kalinovska will explain just how these three artists and their innovative artwork managed to transcend the borders of the Czech/Czechoslovak art scene and became internationally recognized names. Let’s consider what it took for them to be noticed and their works to be admired by Alfred Barr, American art historian and the first director of the Museum of Modern Art; Thomas Messer, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Linda Shearer, curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, respectively.

Frantisek Kupka (1871–1957) is considered to be one of the first abstract artists in the 20thcentury. Though at first his paintings were more symbolic and allegorical in nature, they became more abstract around 1910, driven by his theories about motion, color, and interest in music. In 1912 Kupka exhibited Amorpha: Fugue in Two Colors, an impressive large nonrepresentational, thus purely abstract, painting, at the Salon of Independents in Paris. It was a turning point event in the history of modernist abstraction.

Jiri Kolar (1914–2002) was an original poet and artist, whose works reflect his fierce independence. Kolar was imprisoned for writing a collection of poems, Prometheus’ Liver, in 1950, criticizing the inhumanity of the Communist regime. In his approach to working with collages, Kolar acknowledges Marcel Duchamp’s redefinition of what works of art can be—i.e., ready-mades. Kolar’s new connection made between found images and words is brilliantly reflected in his monumental artwork, Diary 1968, focusing on the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Magdalena Jetelova (1946‒) is a major sculptor who considers inside and outside spaces in her large-scale work; her art has the power to change environment. Jetelova achieved international acclaim after her massive roughly hewn wooden sculpture, Stairs, 1982–83, was selected for the New Art exhibition at the Tate Gallery in 1983. This experience of global context encouraged her to escape from Communist Czechoslovakia to Germany in 1985. Her impressive works, which are capable of extending the notion of sculpture, have been shown around the world. 


Milena Kalinovska was the Director of Modern and Contemporary Art Collection at the National Gallery Prague until 2018. Previously, she was the Director of Public Programs and Education and at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Associate Curator at the New Museum in New York, and Exhibitions Director of Riverside Studios in London, Great Britain. 

She has curated over 40 exhibitions, most recently the first major survey of Gerhard Richter in Central Europe with Jiri Fajt and Norbert Arns in 2017, a major solo exhibition of Jiri Kolar with co-curator Marie Klimesova, and a large installation and survey of Magdalena Jetelova, all at the National Gallery Prague. Kalinovska has worked with artists such as Antony Gormley, Richard Deacon, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Nan Goldin, Ilja Kabakov, Stanislav Kolibal, Annette Messages, Cildo Meireles, Richard Prince, Adriena Simotova, Nancy Spero, Bill Viola, and others. She has contributed to numerous publications, was nominated for the Turner Price in 1985, and holds a number of awards for her curatorial, publication, and educational achievements. 

Photo Credit: National Gallery Prague


Jiri Kolar – A Face for 1969. Photo: Neues Museum Nuremberg, on loan of the City of Nuremberg. | Frantisek Kupka – Cosmic Spring I. & Magdalena Jetelova – Chair. Photo: National Gallery Prague.

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Sep 24, 2020 7:00 PM


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