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František Janoušek (1890–1943) Eve in May

oil on canvas
1936
lower left
97 × 130 cm
framed

Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK7,000,000 CZK
Current price2,800,000 CZK

Many times exhibited and published painting Eve in May is a rare and high-quality work, which belongs among the best that has so far appeared on the auction market by František Janoušek. The author himself considered this oil painting one of his most successful and characteristic surrealist works, telling about the inner mood of a person torn by uncertainty, which was caused in him by the atmosphere related to the political climate of the time. In this work, he fully relaxed his brushwork and dealt with the long-developed theme of dualities, in this case, related to the parallel existence of love and cruelty.

The centenary of the death of Karel Hynek Mácha led Janoušek to the subject matter, which he decided to reflect on with the help of Mácha’s poem May, also published in 1836. He breathed the essence of the famous story into a limp stump-like figure helplessly surrendered to a grassy creature. They are set in a geometrically constructed space made “cosier” with pieces of fabric and hay. Despite the ambiguity desired by the artist, one can feel the urgency, deep rupture, dramatic tension and conflict caused by two different principles from the scene. In this painting, Janoušek discovered an important idea for himself, which he tried several times to develop and respond to in connection with the war, e.g. in the enchanting painting Spain (oil on canvas, 1936, signed lower left, 97,5 × 130,5 cm, Moravian Gallery in Brno, inv. No. A 1596).

Eve in May represents a unique opportunity for every collector of interwar art who can appreciate the masterful brushwork and deep level of meaning of František Janoušek’s work, comparable to the best of the world’s surrealist art. The painting will be included in the upcoming list of works in the forthcoming monograph of Mgr. E. Vele. Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. J. Machalický. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

Published:

·       Periodical: Volné směry XXXIII, Prague 1937, p. 227

·       Periodical: Listy – Měsíčník pro umění a filosofii 2, 1948, p. 146

·       J. Chalupecký: About Dada, Surrealism and Czech Art, Prague 1980, p. 42

·       A. Biro / R. Passeron: Dictionnaire général du surréalisme et de ses environs, Paris 1982, p. 221

·       Exhibition catalogue: František Janoušek, Paintings and Drawings 1929–1942, Brno House of Arts,
21. 5. – 30. 6. 1985

·       Exhibition catalogue: František Janoušek, Paintings form 1932–1942, National House of Vinohrady, Prague, 13. 9. – 7. 10. 1990

·       J. Chalupecký: František Janoušek, Prague 1991, p. 156, fig. 97

 

Presented at the artist’s solo exhibitions:

·       František Janoušek, Posthumous Exhibition of Paintings, SVU Mánes, Prague, December 1947, cat. No. 48 (reproduced in the catalogue)

·       František Janoušek 1890–1943, Paintings, Central Bohemian Region Gallery, Nelahozeves Castle, 21. 8. – 31. 10. 1965, cat. No. 91

·       František Janoušek, Paintings and Drawings 1929–1942, Brno House of Arts, 21. 5. – 30. 6. 1985, cat. No. 58 (reproduced in the catalogue)

·       František Janoušek, Paintings from 1932–1942 (exhibition for the 100th anniversary of his birth), National House of Vinohrady, Prague, 13. 9. – 7. 10. 1990, cat. No. 11

·       František Janoušek, Paintings and Drawings, Mánes, Prague, 19. 11. 1991 – 1. 1. 1992, cat. No. 69

 

Presented at group exhibitions (selection):

·       The members’ exhibitions of SVU Mánes, Prague, 6. 11. – 8. 12. 1936, cat. No. 187

·       2nd Zlín Salon, Institute of Study, Zlín, 18. 4. – 31. 8. 1937, cat. No. 208 (selling price 6 000 CSK)

·       Mánes 1907–1938, Mánes, Prague, 19. 11. – 16. 12. 1945, cat. No. 112

·       Imaginative Painting 1930–1950, Aleš South Bohemian Gallery, Hluboká nad Vltavou, March –April 1964, cat. No. 21

·       Surrealismo e arte fantástica, VIII. Bienal de Sao Paulo, September – November 1965 (reproduced in the catalogue)

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