Despite the decrease in funding in the state budget, the Gallery of Modern Art in Hradec Králové was able to purchase a highly valuable collection of works of art from the last fifty years in 2022. The extensive acquisition for 1.5 million Czech crowns includes over 650 works, with 489 works, complementing the Karel Tutsch Collection obtained in 2021.
The acquisition includes the rediscovered collection of collector Karel Tutsch, which primarily contains smaller formats on paper.
The collection also features works by the leading Czech and internationally recognized artist Jiří Kovanda, represented in the Hradec Králové gallery with 107 pieces, which is the most extensive Kovanda collection in all private and public collections.
Along with the publication of the collective monograph of multimedia artist Milan Langer, several extensive collections of Czech action art were found. These primarily include original works from the 1970s by Petr Štembera, Karel Miler, and also a representative group of performances by Jaroslav Richter, Ladislav Plíva, and Milan Langer.
The gallery also focused on works by artists connected to Hradec Králové, in 2022. Works by Bronislava Orlická, Bohumír Komínek, and Jan Šafránek were purchased. From the previously held exhibition: “Original or fake? The art of imitating art”, the gallery acquired works by Tomáš Vaněk, Ivar Grāvlejs, the Guma Guar group, Alexey Klyuykov, and Ladislava Gažiová.
In 2021, GMU focused on moving image and expanded its collections with another 70 works of art worth nearly 3.3 million Czech crowns, which was the largest single acquisition of moving image in the Czech Republic at the time. The gallery, for example, acquired works by Michael Bielický, Lumír Hladík, Milan Knížák, Rudolf Němec, Vít Soukup, as well as works by Adéla Babanová, Michal Maupicová, or Sláva Sobotovičová.
The main motivation is to acquire key works that will be accessible to the public. The entire process of acquiring videos was accelerated by the fact that works are created on ephemeral mediums such as analog carriers, which can lead to irreversible degradation.
The collection of moving image was established in GMU in 2019. It is one of the first systematically built collections in the Czech Republic and includes experimental film, video art, video installations, slide projector installations, film essays, and documentation of performances. With the establishment of the collection, a separate exhibition space called the Black Cube was created, which serves to present fresh acquisitions.
In 2021, the gallery also acquired a significant collection of Brno collector Karel Tutsch consisting of 800 works of art worth 12 million Czech crowns. In the modern post-revolutionary history of regional galleries, this is the most significant addition, not only in terms of its scope and the invested amount of 12 million crowns, but above all, in terms of its artistic value. The collection is an exclusive document of collecting from the 1980s and contains crucial works of Czech art from the period between modernity and postmodernity by prominent authors such as Jiří Načeradský, Jiří Sopko, Antonín Střížek, Naděžda Plíšková, and Alena Kučerová. In addition to paintings, the Brno collector also focused on conceptual art, with the most important authors being Jiří Kovanda, Jiří David, and Ján Mančuška.
In 2020, the gallery purchased 214 works of art into its collections for an amount exceeding CZK 4.5 million Czech crowns. Thanks to these acquisitions, the gallery was able to acquire exclusive pieces, expand its newly established collection of moving images with a quality cross-section from the 1970s to the present, and obtain works by significant authors who were not represented in the GMU collections previously.
The gallery acquired unique works from the 1990s into its collection of Czech fine arts, including a photo collage named “Foto Amputation/Foto Implantation” (1993-1994) by Veronika Šrek Bromová, who worked with advertising billboards. With this work, she wanted to raise awareness of the hidden social functions of advertising, which, besides promoting specific products, also creates our perception of what beauty is or what happiness looks like.
A significant work by Jan Šerých, “Black Sabbath/ABBA” (2002), enriched the collection with a text-based work, which is not uncommon among last year’s additions.
The collection represents the region through artists like Radoslav Pavlíček, one of the most significant artists in the Hradec Králové region during the 1970s generation. Or Petra Malinová, a graduate of the studio of Jiří Sopek at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, who experiments with natural materials. The collection of Central and Eastern Europe grew with the work “CZ_SK_HU_D_PL” (2014) by Dalibor Bači, in the shape of the Czechoslovak flag from 1918-1938. This installation points to the historical fact, the painful shared past of both countries and their division, where the Czechoslovak flag and shared history remained with the Czech Republic.
A key work for the newly established collection is “Moscow Diary” (1989) from the series of clip collages by Anna Daučíková. The collection of moving images, currently numbering twenty-two inventory numbers, was supplemented by, for example, film experiments such as “Psychodrama” (1970) and “Gorge” (1979) by Miloš Šejn and the 2019 music videos “Moréna Rex” and “Skuzomeetzach” by Marie Lukáčová, one of the youngest authors.
In 2019, the gallery’s collections expanded by 49 additions, primarily from the last 30 years. A total of 3.8 million Czech crowns were spent. The acquisitions were not limited only to hanging paintings and sculptures, as is customary in domestic galleries.
In addition to paintings by Josef Bolf, Lenka Vítková and Vladimír Skrepl, the collections were expanded by works by Martin Zet, Jiří Černický, and Lenka Klodová and several moving images, including Zbyněk Baladrán’s film essay, Models of the Universe. The purchases were made both directly from the artists and through the gallery; 15 works were acquired as gifts to the collection.