Košice Modernism and its Context

5. 12. 2014 – 15. 3. 2015
SNG, Esterházy Palace, 2nd floor
Prepared by: Zuzana Bartošová, Michał Burdziński, Alexandra Homoľová

Due to the abundance of artwork, the diversity of fates of its artists, the dynamics of the exhibitions in the city and international contacts, Košice Modernism is one of the significant and as of today underappreciated points on the cultural map of Europe. In the 1920s, Košice, with its typical Central European mixture of and tolerance for nationalities and religious faiths, was the cultural center of the eastern part of the young Czechoslovak Republic. Czechoslovak statehood was promoted in this territory by officials mostly recommended by Prague. Josef Polák, a young lawyer and art lover was one of them. In March 1919, he was delegated to manage the Eastern Slovakia Museum. Polák became intensely interested in fi ne art life and he began to organize exhibitions and auctions; he also founded the art school at the museum. The fact that he provided a temporary home in Košice for several artists involved in the failed Hungarian Soviet Republic was also significant. Polák’s activities turned Košice into an important European art center. In the 1920s, the Eastern Slovakia Museum organized almost one hundred exhibitions where the works of modern and avant-garde artists were introduced. As a result, Košice extended its already abundant domestic and foreign contacts in the art world.