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1939-2021: The End of the Black-and-White Era

Group show including the works of Jirí Kovanda
National Gallery, Prague
Throughout 2023

The End of the Black-and-White Era is not a comprehensive title for the years 1939⁠–⁠2021 but rather a slogan summarizing an approach that seeks to avoid premature ideological appraisal of the surveyed material from this often painful time. The aim is to show that art has always included multiple and parallel conceptions of artistic quality. The basic polarities of the art of those times ⁠–⁠ official and unofficial, abstract and figurative, formal and socially engaged ⁠–⁠ mutually conditioned each other’s existence but almost never existed as black-and-white maximums. The chronological development thus lets visitors observe how quickly the idea of quality changed over time, even for individual artists. The permanent exhibition presents art as testimony of the times: the result of not only purely authorial but also social, political, and economic forces. It consists of more than 300 works solely from the collection of the NGP without any loans.
It also offers a methodology that is not based on a hierarchical selection of the very best art, but on an attempt to understand the motives behind what art was being made at the time and why; this is complemented by examples of
exhibitions as well as acquisition stories.

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