[artinfo] We mourn the death of JiÞí ·evãík
press at erstestiftung.net
Tue Apr 12 21:56:30 CEST 2022
Our dear friend and colleague JiÞí ·evãík (1940-2022) has passed away.
We mourn the death of JiÞí ·evãík who passed away on 2 April 2022.
Our dear friend and colleague JiÞí ·evãík
(1940-2022), who had been a member of the art
advisory board of Kontakt Collection since its
inception in 2004, has passed away.
With his passing, we have lost an important art
historian and an influential thinker, a mediator
between Eastern and Western European art, an
excellent political analyst, and a wonderful
person gifted with a great deal of humor and
generosity, especially towards the younger
generation. He had developed the program of
Kontakt together with us and made it possible for
key works of Eastern European and Austrian
neo-avant-garde art as well as contemporary
artworks to find their way into the collection.
He had also developed profound knowledge of the
Austrian art scene, with which he became familiar
starting from his first-ever trip outside
Czechoslovakia following 1968's Prague Spring-to
Graz in 1988. Since then, he had been in constant
exchange with artists and colleagues in Austria
and had also taken charge of the exhibition
program of the Austrian Cultural Forum in Prague.
In his final essay, published in the Kontakt
Collection catalog in 2017, JiÞí stated that in
the course of "exhaustive critical discussions
both internally and externally, the Kontakt
advisory board has made every attempt to rectify
authoritative judgements of so-called 'Eastern
art' and offer new interpretative possibilities,
in the process being hugely pleased to reveal the
'remote similarities' of both worlds-namely, the
former West and the former East." To his mind,
the Kontakt Collection had come to represent a
"unique monument to cultural memory" that might
"play an important role in the enormous changes
to the social and political context that still
JiÞí´s reflection on history and his questioning
of the utopian aspects and ideals of our recent
past, aspects and ideals that are inscribed into
the artworks, as well as the inherent attempts at
democratization and their implications for the
future can thus be viewed as his legacy.
As an active protagonist of the Czech(oslovak)
art scene since the 1960s, JiÞí addressed and
re-framed the relationship between art and
politics. In keeping with the spirit of 1968, he
understood art as being always in resonance with
changing reality-both anticipating and
influencing the direction of transformation. This
is why, in 2017, he called for "a revision of our
perceptions of the historical turnaround of
1989-90 and a root-and-branch rethink of its
significance and scope" in order to find ways in
which to transfer "utopian hopes into culture and
preserve this moment in our cultural memory"
during times of crisis.
This is a mandate for us-not least due to the
present war in Europe, something that had been
entirely beyond our imagination before Russia's
invasion of Ukraine on 24 February of this year
and that now forces us to defend the core values
of democracy and pluralism against the
pseudo-democratic rise of contemporary
anti-democratic regimes globally. JiÞí challenged
us to take such a stance as well as to conceive
of freedom outside of conventional pathways.
We will miss him deeply.
Silvia Eiblmayr, Georg Schöllhammer, Branka
Stipanãiç, Adam Szymczyk, Boris Marte, Kathrin
Rhomberg and all former and current colleagues of
Kontakt Collection as well as the team of ERSTE
JiÞí ·evãík was a Czech art historian, writer,
curator and scholar whose activities influenced
several generations of artists and theoreticians.
Since 2004, ·evãík had been a member of the art
advisory committee of the Kontakt Art Collection.
From 1962 to 1965 he was editor-in-chief of the
magazine Architektura âSR. He taught Theory and
History of Art and Architecture at the Faculty of
Architecture of the Technical University from
1966 to 1989. From 1990 to 1993 he was chief
curator of the Gallery of the City of Prague and
from 1993 to 1996 director of the modern and
contemporary art collection at the National
Gallery in Prague. From 1996 to 2013 he served as
vice-rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague
and as director of the AVU Academic Research
Centre, which he had founded in 1997. Along with
his wife Jana ·evãíková, he published a great
number of important texts about Czech(oslovakian)
art. JiÞí ·evãík was a laureate of the Austrian
Decoration for Science and Art. In 2018, he and
his wife were also awarded the Czech State Award
of the Ministry of Culture for their lifelong
contribution to Czech culture.
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