The Collection of Modern and Contemporary Graphic Art from 1900 is outlined as the collection of the graphic art – a specific kind based on the principle of the creation of the author’s prints from the original (print form) predominantly on paper. In the 20th century, graphic art experienced a significant development of traditional techniques as well as the introduction of new techniques. In terms of orientation, the individual works of the collection include free and applied graphic art (ex libris, original reproduction, illustration). Free graphic sheets represent the work of all of the main figures and forms of graphic art of the 20th century from lithographs and etchings through expressive modern wood-cuts and wood-engravings up to unique monotypes whose technique lies somewhere between painting and graphic art, because every print is the original transferred from a new layer of paint to the model. Thematically, the collection presents extremely rich material for the study of the history of graphic art in the Central European milieu at the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
The collection of graphic art was initiated upon the founding of the SNG in 1950. It includes approximately 13,000 works, predominantly of Slovak and Central European origin and a sample of international graphic art (Japanese woodcuts by an unknown author, etchings by J. Villon, M. Klinger, E. Nolde, P. Picasso and L. Feininger, lithographs by O. Kokoschka and F. Léger, wood-engraving by K. Kollwitz, lithography by A. Frohner, monotype and collage by S. Hu, serigraphy by A. Warhola). Czech graphic art is well represented in this collection because the gallery worked with it throughout the entire history of acquisitions (etchings by V. Pressig, M. Švabinský, wood-engravings by F. Bílek, J. Váchal, engravings by O. Kubín, E. Filla, J. Šíma, lithographs by M. Jiránek, K. Lhoták, a set of engravings and monotypes by V. Boudník, engravings by K. Malicha, N. Plíšková, J. Anderle, perforated engravings by A. Kučerová, lithographs by J. Balcar, serigraphy by R. Kratina, lino-engraving by M. Rittstein and a large set of ex libris and graphic sheets by various authors from the first half of the 20th century). The collection contains several significant works of Polish artists from the second half of the 20th century and many graphic sheets by unknown Hungarian, Belgium, French, German and Czech authors from the turn of the 20th century, which resulted from the fact that particularly in the first decade after the founding of the gallery, graphic art was acquired not only through transfers from already existing institutions (for example the Slovak National Museum) purchases from private owners, authors and families, but also through purchases from antique shops and antiquarian bookshops. In 1955, the gallery’s purchase commission were already divided into old and contemporary art. This collection was also built in two lines from its beginning, by supplementing works from the first half of the 20th century and by acquisitions of contemporary artists’ works. The work from the first two decades of the 20th century are represented by the integral sets of works by authors connected with the end of the 19th century and landscape painting (etchings by M. Schurmann, lithographs by Ľ. Csordák) Budapest Academy realism (G. Angyal), as well as the beginnings of modern graphic art represented by E. Krón, from whose influential drawing school in Košice Koloman Sokol graduated. Particularly the building of Krón’s cycle of lithographs Muž slnka I. – V. (Man of the Sun I – V)(1920 – 1930) is based on Cubism; at the same time, it re-evaluates the impulses of Jasusch-like Expressionism and Art Nouveau. A large set of wood-engravings, lithographs and etchings Sokol represents one of the most significant Slovak graphic artists who made good use of the influence of expressive tendencies in eastern Slovakia and the European inter-war avant-gardes as well as thorough instruction in Mexican art – it was in Mexico where he established his own graphic school while working there. The full development of avant-garde attitudes towards art in graphic works can be seen in the work of Ľ. Fulla amd M. Galanda who in (coloured) litographs, linoleo-cuts and engravings synthesized the mutual liberation of line, shape and stain and their use as autonomous elements of composition with a search for authentic modern expression typical for Slovak art. The topicality of their performance also points to the harmony with various streams of European Moderna from the beginning of the 20th century. The collection also maps the graphic implementations of representatives of the national Moderna of M. Benka, M. A. Bazovský and Z. Palugyay in lithographs, linoleo-cuts and monotypes. The graphic work of the representatives of the Generation of 1909 (according to the exhibition by K. Vaculík and Ľ. Peterajová Generácia 1909 – Svedomie doby v roku 1964 (Generation 1909 – The Conscience of the Times in 1964)) is also documented in this collection. V. Hložník and C. Majerník are represented by larger sets of works. Acquisitions of the graphic art of the inter-war generation of artists such as D. Milly, K. Ondreička, A. Nemeš, E. Nevan began with the works from the 1930s. Significant graphic artists, O. Dubay, A. Klimo, E. Zmeták, E. Špitz were already creating in the 1940s when M. Čunderlík was starting his career. The works from the collection which are dated from the beginning of the 1950s were already subjected to the multi-layer filter of the aesthetic requirements of the socialist regime - from socialist realism in the 1950s up to illustrative figuration in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite the fact that considerable material was included in the collection, which documents this ideological pressure, it is possible to identify a large group of quality figurative work. The imaginative tendencies of Slovak graphic art as it was formed by the circle of artists including A. Brunovský, R. Bruno, later V. Gažovič, D. Kállay, K. Štanclová and many others, belong to the most distinctive stream. However, the extensive parallel collections of another progressive type was also successfully built. They include the works of certain artists from the Group of Mikuláš Galanda (M. Laluha, A. Barčík and M. Paštéka) and the group of Bratislava Confrontations, testing the medium of graphic art in a completely new material level of informel character. Together with a representative selection of structural and explosionalist graphic works by V. Boudník, the works created by monotype technique and the combined technique by M. Čunderlík, J. Kočiš, D. Kočišová, J. Jankovič and E. Ovčáček constitute the golden fund of the graphic art collection. The neo-Constructivist tendencies in graphic art were fully manifested in the works of M. Urbásek T. Klimová and M. Dobeš. The artists of the wider conceptual circle, particularly S. Filko, J. Želibská, R. Sikora, J. Meliš and J. Jankovič in part, contributed to graphic art in a specific way. In the 1970s, the collection captures the graphic work of artists from the field of Photo-realism (V. Rónaiová), analytical painting and graphic art (M. Mudroch, D. Fischer), as well as the first computer graphic works by J. Jankovič and later by D. Fischer. The new expressive position of the 1980s is represented by the graphic work of the “new wild” generation of artists such as L. Teren, I. Csudai, S. Černý, M. Krén and P. Rónai, authors adopting post-Moderna. Other positions of the contemporary graphic art are represented by computer graphics as outputs of the virtual studio of V. Havrilla, the work of the neo-Conceptual generation beginning after 1989 and digital print as a current graphic medium (M. Kvetán).
Curator of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Graphic Art: Lucia Gregorová