This month’s artwork has a double aspect. Primarily, it is a piece of design consisting of white porcelain plates, dishes and cups. Yet it is also a black and white photograph that depicts the set, highlights its qualities, and advances its presentation. It is an example of co-operation between the designer Ladislav Sutnar (1897–1976) and the photographer Josef Sudek (1896–1976). The two collaborated on many images depicting and advertising Sutnar’s porcelain sets, glassware or cutlery. While this article pays attention to the role of photography in communicating design, its main focus is the porcelain set. What is of particular interest is the place it occupied between commerce and art in the attempt to elevate the aesthetic standards of a regular Czechoslovak home.
Artwork of the Month, January 2023: Monument to Milan Rastislav Štefánik by Dušan Jurkovič (1928)
The casual hiker, walking through the hills of western Slovakia, will be astonished if they walk to the top of Bradlo Hill, 543 metres above sea level, to encounter a large, terraced, stone structure, consisting of a square platform, measuring 93 by 62 metres, supporting a second platform, 45 by 32 metres, on top of which is a pyramidal form, topped by sarcophagus, with 12 metre-tall obelisks on each corner. Its monumental scale and the rusticated nature of the stonework might lead the uninformed visitor to imagine they had stumbled across some ancient temple, except for the lettering around the sarcophagus, which reads: ‘The liberated Czechoslovak nation to a great son / Czechoslovak minister and general Dr. Milan R. Štefánik, 21 July 1880 – 4 May 1919 / He perished in an aircrash on 4 May 1919 near Bratislava / With him [were] the royal Italian sergeant U[mberto] Merlino and private. G[abriel] Aggiunti’ (Veľkému synovi oslobodený národ československý / Čs. minister a generál Dr. Milan R. Štefánik + 21. júla 1880 4. mája 1919 / S ním kráľ. taliansky serg. U. Merlino a Sol. G. Aggiunti / Zahynul pádom lietadla dňa 4. mája 1919 pri Bratislave).
Artwork of the Month, December 2022: Bundt-Cake Madonna by Margit Kovács (1938)
The Hungarian town of Szentendre is known for its small museums dedicated to individual artists, but the Margit Kovács Museum stood out in popularity after it first opened in 1973. Looking at the ceramicist’s Bundt-Cake Madonna, it is not hard to understand why. As the title indicates, the conical shape of the Madonna’s body is designed to recall a cake; the white glazing on the surface, then, makes us think of the cake’s icing. The baby Jesus wears the same, cake-shaped garment, but a tiny one, and his mother holds him lovingly, gently bending her neck to touch her face to the baby’s crown. It is a sweet composition, and it is also a very well-formed one, which unites simple, pure form with intricate surface decoration, so that the ceramic sculpture as a whole appears robust and solid, rather than finicky. It represents a cake that is not only sweet, but also filling; a dessert of considerable substance.
Artwork of the Month, November 2022: Design for an Advertising Poster for Piešťany by Ladislav Csáder (1932–36)
When studying the history of the avant-garde movement during the interwar period, the Slovak avant-garde remains relatively unexplored and in need of further investigation. Omitted from international works and under-represented in its own country, this key moment in Slovak modernity has recently become a priority area of research at the Slovak Design Museum in Bratislava.  A key resource in this context has been the archives of Iva Mojžišová (1939–2014), an art historian who devoted much time and energy to studying, collecting and preserving materials relating the School of Design in Bratislava (ŠUR, Škola umeleckých remesiel).  The school, around which the Slovak avant-garde was structured, no longer exists, and it is thanks to Mojžišová that documentation related to many of the designers who worked there are now to be found in the Slovak Design Museum. Other archives have also recently been opened to researchers, such as that of Ladislav (László) Csáder (1909–1975), a graphic designer whose rich oeuvre has yet to be fully discovered. Images like the one we will study more closely here testify to the merit of granting him a place in the international avant-garde movement.
Issue 2 of Art East Central is now out
The second issue of the open access journal Art East Central is now out! It features a discussion on globalizing early modern central and eastern European art between Robyn Radway, Tomasz Grusiecki, Robert Born, Suzanna Ivanič, Ruth Sargent Noyes and Olenka Pevny, followed by an essay on the Romanian architect Ion Mincu (1852–1912) by Cosmin Minea. The issue also contains English translations of primary sources from interwar central Europe: four essays on modern architecture by the Hungarian architect and critic Virgil Bierbauer, translated by Barbara Dudás and introduced by Matthew Rampley and Nóra Veszprémi, and a collection of essays on women’s art by Austrian authors Hans Ankwicz-Kleehoven, Wolfgang Born and Liane Zimbler, translated by Acer Lewis and introduced by Christian Drobe. Finally, the issue features seven reviews of books on Ewa Partum’s artistic practice, Czech art history writing, German artistic heritage in Estonia, Red Army monuments in Poland, networks of modernity in central Europe, the east European Neo-avantgarde, and an exhibition of French books in Budapest in 1957.
Read the new issue here: arteastcentral.eu