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Karel Černý (1910–1960) Dancing in the Garden

oil on canvas
1946
lower right
114 × 140 cm
frame

Starting price4,000,000 CZK Final price20,160,000 CZK

This monumental painting by Karel Černý entitled Dancing in the Garden represents a rare opportunity for collectors. For many years, it was part of a significant private collection and has been reproduced in specialist literature in black and white only. It comes from the high-quality period of the 1940s when the artist was already fully established in the cultural field and experts on modern art considered him a great talent of his time. For example, Jindřich Chalupecký, a leading art and literary theoretician and critic of the time, spoke highly of his work. The quality of Černý’s work is also evident by the fact that as early as the 1940s, it attracted the attention of a prominent collector and benefactor of modern art, dr. Jaroslav Borovička. According to contemporary testimonies, Borovička had a great talent for recognising exceptionally gifted painters at the beginning of their careers. He was one of the first to collect works of František Gross, Zdeněk Sklenář, and also Karel Černý, whom he helped with the realisation of several exhibitions, catalogues, and books. Dancing in the Garden comes from the post-war period of the artist’s work and also his pre-Parisian period, when the structure, constructiveness, and succinct expression were more prominent in his work. In this painting, several subject matters typical for Černý are connected: dance, the night, and a garden restaurant. We can trace his interest in the environment of cafés in his painting from 1935 entitled Evening on the Café Terrace, and it appeared in his work until the 1950s. These are mainly night scenes of cafés, bars, and garden restaurants; it is no coincidence that he shared his interest in these places with Parisian surrealists and existentialists. Romanticism and existential subjectivism were not just a matter of choice for Černý but rather a state of mind. The feeling of alienation already formulated by the famous Romantics of the 19th century accompanied the artist throughout his life. We can also see references to it in the presented work, a love story immersed in a full moon night, which certainly represents the culmination of the artist’s inner state of mind. The uniqueness of this artwork is enhanced by the original framing. It was presented at the artist’s solo exhibitions: Karel Černý, Topičův salon, 7–29 May 1946 (cat. No. 40); Karel Černý, Paintings from the years 1941–1958, Municipal Library in Prague, November–December 1961 (cat No. 10), reprised in the Regional Gallery in Liberec, March–April 1963 (cat. No. 12); Černý’s solo exhibition at the Čapek Brothers Gallery (7 December 1965 – 6 January 1966); Exhibition of Paintings by Karel Černý, Benedikt Rejt Gallery in Louny, February–March 1966 (cat. No. 24). It was also presented at the group exhibition entitled Generation of Mánes, Prague 1947 (cat. No. 10), as evidenced by the stamp on the reverse. We can find reproductions of the work, for example, in Volné směry, No. 40 (1947–1948), p. 51; Blok 1, 1946–1947, p. 83; Zdeněk Hlaváček: Karel Černý, Paintings, Prague 1958 (unpublished); catalogue of the exhibition at the Čapek Brothers Gallery, 1965, and above all in the artist’s inventory by Vojtěch Lahoda: Karel Černý 1910–1960. Colour and existence, inventory of paintings, Prague 2003, p. 191 (cat. No. 144). Assessed during consultations by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., and PhDr. J. Machalický. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.  

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