By Slovak National Museum
Slovak National Museum - Bojnice Castle Museum
The Country and People through the Eyes of Creators of Slovak Modernism
Slovak National Museum – Bojnice Castle Museum primarily specializes in the presentation of historicism. However its collection of art includes many artistically valuable objects from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, which are not available to see for visitors during the standard historical tour.
The Beginning of the 20th Century
Slovak fine art did not have good conditions for improvement. Slovakia as a part of Austro–Hungarian monarchy was marginalized, the major art centres were in Vienna and Budapest.
One of the first and also the most expressive painters of the founders generation of Slovak modernism with national character was a painter, a graphic designer, and an illustrator Martin Benka (1888 - 1971), who was so fascinated by the motherland during his study tours around Slovakia, that he devoted his whole life´s work to it. He was justly awarded the title National Artist titul as the first Slovak painter ever for his countless works of art and crafts with themes of the nature and people of Slovakia.
Further development was provided by a group of artists known as "Generation 1909”. Painters, born around 1909 and marked by WWII scenes, created works in their own, but mutually different artistic handwriting. Imro Weiner-Kráľ (1901-1978) in the spirit of surrealism, and Ján Mudroch (1909 - 1968) with touch of post-impressionism. Despite the fact that the artists responded in their works to problems and negative events of time, the topic of rural man and his daily life was not fully pushed into the background.
The Doctrine of Socialist Realism
After the establishment of communism a significant change occurred, all creative clubs and societies of artists were merged in the Unified Association of Czechoslovak Visual Artists.
The Group of Mikuláš Galanda
An abandonment of the rigid doctrine occurred in the second half of 50s. The artists of Mikuláš Galanda Group, for example Milan Laluha (1930 - 2013), and Rudolf Krivoš (born 1933), revived Slovak modernism, they have been again inspired by the wealth and traditions of Slovakia which they captured by distinctive handwriting.
The Country and Architecture
The beauty of Slovak nature, high mountain peaks and green meadows with grazing sheep, enchanted painters and sculptors, so even though they had left abroad to study, they returned to their homeland with love to eternalize the natural and cultural wealth of the country on canvas and in the mass.
People and the Folklore
Artists were so proud of the Slovak people and traditions, that they often created artworks with the theme of the people in traditional folk costumes, their folkways, dances, legends and myths.
The Beauty of Slovak Women
We could say, that a special category in our national art is the pure beauty of Slovak women. Especially village women dressed in colorful folk costumes – blouses, embroidered bodices, long and wide skirts, aprons and headscarfs.
The Hard Work
Also the strength and diligence of the Slovak people have become a great inspiration for artists. We can come across paintings and sculptures wich are thematically focused on the difficult daily work – work on the field, with farm animals or in forests with wood.
Paintings and sculptures of above-mentioned authors as well as many others from the exhibition "Slovakia 20" confirm that throughout a century the works with expression of national themes continuously occurred, regardless of the artist's style and also prove that home country was not a soulless motive for them in "the quest for modernity"; on the contrary, it was a great source of inspiration which their works and their creations pay tribute to.
Exhibition was prepared by Bojnice Castle Museum, operating under Slovak National Museum.
Curator of the exhibit: Miroslava Cipovová