Still from Karel Plicka's film The Earth Sings

Artwork of the Month, May 2022: The Earth Sings by Karel Plicka (1933)

In 1934, two Czechoslovak films were sent to the Venice Film Festival. The first was Gustav Machatý’s Extase from 1933, which not only brought its protagonist, the young Hedy Lamarr, to fame, but also caused outrage for its explicit presentation of female sexuality. The second film was altogether different: it had no stars, no dramatic narrative arc, no great love story. It was not even a box office success, though critics lauded its artistic value as a ‘film poem’ that, as museum director Josef Polák claimed in the Prague daily Lidové noviny, exemplified ‘what cinema could be when the moving shadows are not simply a commodity’:[1] The Earth Sings (Zem spieva, 1933), written and directed by Karel Plicka (1894–1987), interwar Czechoslovakia’s most influential artist­­-ethnographer.

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Imrich Weiner-Král, Zidovska Street III, detail

Artwork of the Month December 2021: Židovská Street III (1935–36) by Imrich Weiner-Kráľ

Nowadays, Židovská ulica (Jewish Street), wedged between Bratislava castle and the historic city centre, is only a meagre leftover of what it used to be. Forming one of the central locations of the city’s Jewish quarter, a large stretch of the street was destroyed in 1972 during the construction of the New Bridge (officially called ‘The Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising’), as was a large part of the Jewish quarter with it. Even though more recent years have seen efforts to resuscitate the Jewish heritage of the city, including the opening of the Museum of Jewish Culture in 1993, the destruction of the community’s built environment as late as the 1970s underlines a difficult, near erased heritage. With a focus on the painting Židovská Street III (1935–1936), this article seeks to redraw a connection between interwar Jewish life in the eastern part of Czechoslovakia (Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia) and a prominent representative of Slovak modernism: the Jewish-Hungarian-Slovak painter and graphic artist Imrich/Imre/Imro Weiner (later Weiner-Kráľ , 1901–1978).[1] Ultimately, it argues that if we interpret Weiner-Kráľ s work in the light of his Jewish identity, we might also question traditional interpretations of Slovak modernism that have seen it primarily as an expression of national identity.

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Contemporary Artists and the Contested Past – National Histories, Imperial Memories

The concluding event of our seminar series National Histories, Imperial Memories: Representing the Past in Interwar Central Europe will take place at

18.00 CET on 14 December 2021

on Zoom, featuring the artists

Szabolcs KissPál (Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest)

and

Martin Piaček (Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava)

in conversation with

Edit András (Central European University, Vienna)

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Ernő Jeges, Becko, detail

Nóra Veszprémi wins Rath Prize for article in Austrian History Yearbook

CRAACE research fellow Nóra Veszprémi has been awarded the R. John Rath Prize of the Center for Austrian Studies at the University of Minnesota for her article  ‘Whose Landscape Is It? Remapping Memory and History in Interwar Central Europe,’ published in Volume 51 of the Austrian History Yearbook.

The R. John Rath Prize, a cash award, is given annually for the best article published in the Austrian History Yearbook. It is funded by the estate of the longtime Habsburg scholar and founding editor of the AHY, R. John Rath (1910–2001), and by contributions in his memory.

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