Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Eugen Kahler – Life’s Work

Date:12 March 1931 – 6 April 1931

Place: Prague, Fine Arts Association, Pštrossova Street 12

Organizer:Prager Secession

Conception:Otto Kletzl, Willi Nowak


The process leading up to the retrospective of Eugen von Kahler at the beginning of spring 1931 was not without complications. The work of this Czech-German painter, who died at the end of 1911 at the age of twenty-nine from tuberculosis, was not introduced to Czech audiences until twenty years later. The show presented a selection of 45 oil paintings, three gouaches, 13 watercolours, nine pastels, and 11 drawings, mainly from the family estate and a smaller number from private and public institutions. The Czechoslovak institutional lenders included the Modern Gallery, which acquired its first oil painting by Kahler at the end of 1923, probably following the successful series of Kahler exhibitions held in several cities in Germany in 1921. The Austrian Modern Gallery, today's Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, lent two oils it had received as a gift from the family estate in 1913. One oil came to the Prague exhibition from what was then the State Gallery in Munich. Private lenders included Georges Kars, Alfred Kubin, and others. 

The show was prepared by Prager Secession and accompanied by two catalogues, each featuring a different text; Antonín Matějček wrote the Czech version and Otto Kletzl the German one. This was a unique occurrence in the milieu of German-speaking artists in Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Both catalogues contained the same images – reproductions of five paintings and three drawings. The exhibition, providing a comprehensive overview of Kahler’s work, was made possible by the helpful approach of the painter’s family, who took great care of his estate. The catalogue shows that the organizers focused primarily on the period between 1908 and 1911, although there were a few works dating from before 1907.

Reviews of the show were published in both Czech and German-language periodicals. The most comprehensive text, written by August Ströbl, appeared in Deutsche Zeitung Bohemia. Jaromír Pečírka and Fritz Lehmann wrote positive reviews of Kahler's work for Prager Presse and Prager Tagblatt, respectively. They highlighted the painter’s ability to transcend early Impressionist influences and mentioned his Oriental inspiration and training in Paris and Germany. Adolf Felix ranked Kahler “among the most talented painters fighting for a new artistic expression at the beginning of the twentieth century" [Felix 1931]. According to the reviewer in Polední list, Kahler’s work “reflects all the contemporary restlessness on the border between Impressionism and Cubism..." [Anonymous author 1931]. Josef Čapek wrote the following about Kahler: “This was not a painter without talent or a weak character: it is evident everywhere in his work, although it followed so many examples. In the end, it always has something that crystallizes in a fully personal direction, giving the tangle of colours and forms a completely definite and – even if obscured – unique mood.” [Čapek 1931]

Of the Czech reviewers, Viktor Nikodém wrote the most insightful text, published in Národní osvobození. He included Kahler in the Osma generation and aptly characterized his works from after 1908: “His paintings from that time show formal expression in flat, vivid colour. ... his recent trips to Africa and Spain, their exoticism, his German background and his desire to find a distinctive expression, distanced him from the French influence, leading him away from the artistically evaluated and transformed reality to poetic fantasy, vision, and dream of a fairy-tale and oriental character. ... in the circle of the avant-garde association ‘Der blaue Reiter’, Kahler aims for ... a final expression of his searching and striving. He composes paintings of larger dimensions, dense forms, characterized by the synthesis of colour and line, in which imagination and vision increasingly prevail..." Nikodém concludes his column by saying that Kahler’s work has long been unjustly forgotten [Nikodém 1931]. 

The 1931 show presented Kahler’s oeuvre in its full scope. And yet, although the Modern Gallery did purchase one work (the oil painting Black Girl) for its collection, it failed to place Kahler – one of the most prominent Czech-German artists – in the context of the local artistic development and make his work a permanent part of local art history. 

Anna Habánová

Works Cited

Nikodém 1931: N [Viktor Nikodém], Z pražských výstav, Národní osvobození VIII, 1931, no. 83, 24. 3. 1931, p. 4 

Anonymous author 1931: Anonymous author, Výstavy obrazů, Polední list V, 1931, no. 71, 12. 3., p. 2

Felix 1931: Adolf Felix, Umění. Eugen Kahler (1882–1911), Národní politika IL, 1931, no. 76 (afternoon edition), 17. 3., p. 5

Čapek 1931: –jč [Josef Čapek] Pražské výstavy, Lidové noviny XXXIX, 1931, no. 142, 19. 3., p. 9

Exhibiting authors
Eugen Kahler – Life’s Work
Owner: National Gallery Prague
Reviews in the press
Felix Adolf

Adolf Felix, Umění. Eugen Kahler (1882–1911), Národní politika IL, 1931, no. 76 (afternoon edition), 17. 3., p. 4

Lehmann Fritz

Fritz Lehmann, Eugen von Kahler Gedächtnisausstellung im Kunstverein, Prager Tagblatt LVI, 1931, no. 61, 12. 3., p. 5

Nikodem Viktor

N [Viktor Nikodém], Z pražských výstav, Národní osvobození VIII, 1931, no. 83, 24. 3. 1931, p. 4 

Pečírka Jaromír

J. [Jaromír] Pečírka, Eugen Kahler, Prager Presse XI, 1931, no. 77, 18. 3., p. 8 

Ströbel August

August Ströbel, Eugen v. Kahler. Zur Gedächtnis-Ausstellung im Kunstverein, Deutsche Zeitung Bohemia CIV, 1931, no. 61, 12. 3., pp. 6–7

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Ausstellungen, Prager Tagblatt LVII, 1931, no. 57, 7. 3., p. 8

Anonymous author, Eugen Kahler, Gedächtnis-Ausstellung im Kunstverein, Zeit im Bild 1931, cno. 21, 19. 3., p. 4

Anonymous author, reprodukce, Prager Tagblatt LVII, 1931, no. 58, 8. 3., p. 19

Anonymous author, Umění. Eugen Kahler, Národní politika IL, 1931, no. 67, 8. 3., p. 9

Anonymous author, Výstava na paměť Eugena Kahlera, Čech LVI, 1931, no. 54, 6. 3., p. 6

Anonymous author, Výstava Eugena Kahlera, Čech LVI, 1931, no. 58, 11. 3., p. 6

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