The Man with a Burning Mane Borrowed Surrealist Artworks

Emil Filla – Three Graces, 1937, oil on canvas, 140 x 114 cm
Emil Filla – Three Graces, 1937, oil on canvas, 140 x 114 cm

On the occasion of the exhibition Man with a burning mane. Emil Filla and surrealism 1931-1939 at Museum Kampa, The Pudil Family Foundation has lent three works from its collection – Filla’s Three Graces, Toyen’s Dream and Janoušek’s Started on paper – Love ends on the rocks. The exhibition examines the transition of the Czech painter Emil Filla from pure cubism to more organic forms, reflecting the evolution of surrealism in Bohemia during the 1930s.

            At the beginning of this period, Emil Filla celebrated his 50th birthday with a retrospective exhibition at the Mánes gallery. In an era so insistent on originality, Filla was frequently criticised for merely imitating Pablo Picasso, the founder of cubism. Filla certainly did adopt Picasso’s style, but at the same time he constantly reacted to the master’s work and debated with him via his own paintings. Although the wider public often failed to understand Filla, he was one of the most important initiators of modern art in Bohemia.

            Although Emil Filla generally remained loyal to cubism, he also tried to support young artists going in totally different directions. It was Filla who defended the CSR group of Surrealists at the Mánes Society of Visual Artists. He admired this new movement, imported from France by artists such as Toyen, Jindřich Štýrský and the poet Vítězslav Nezval, seeing in Surrealism a means of liberating the imagination.

            Not only did these young artists often meet with Filla in Prague, but Surrealism and Poetism were at this time simply “in the air.” So we find Filla making use of similar motifs, albeit in his idiosyncratic cubist style. The curator of the exhibition, Karel Srp, has provided viewers with a chance to compare the works in thematic circuits. The motif connecting all three paintings – Filla’s Three Graces, Toyen’s Dream and Janoušek’s Started on paper – Love ends on the rocks – has thus become the human figure. These artworks borrowed from The Pudil Family Foundation collection as well as many others can be seen in Museum Kampa until 11 Februrary 2018.  

Toyen – Dream, 1937, oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm
Toyen – Dream, 1937, oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm
František Janoušek – Started on paper – Love ends on the rocks, 1936-1942, oil on canvas, 97 x 146 cm
František Janoušek – Started on paper – Love ends on the rocks, 1936-1942, oil on canvas, 97 x 146 cm

The Pudil Family Foundation is an open non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of Czech and international modern and contemporary art through the realization of innovative exhibitions, research and educational projects. 

For more information regarding the Foundation and our projects, visit