[artinfo] We mourn the death of JiÞí ·evãík

ERSTE Foundation 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 
await us."

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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