Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

The First Exhibition of the Skupina výtvarných umělců (Fine Arts Group)

Date:5. January 1912 – March 1912

Place: Prague, Municipal House

Exhibition design:Pavel Janák

Organizer:Fine Arts Group

Conception:Fine Arts Group


On the occasion of the opening of Prague's Municipal House, city officials decided to organize a special exhibition. The exhibition committee, headed by Prague mayor Karel Groš, modelled the show on the French example: as a salon showcasing a representative sample of contemporary Czech art. For this purpose, organizers invited prominent art associations to take part in the exhibition. While the Umělecká beseda (Artistic Forum) turned the offer down, Jednota umělců výtvarných (Union of Fine Artists), SVU Mánes (Mánes Fine Arts Association) and the Skupina výtvarných umělců (Fine Arts Group, founded in 1911) agreed to participate. As a result, the Municipal House exhibition comprised an array of contemporary artistic tendencies: from the most conservative artworks created by members of the Union of Fine Artists through SVU Mánes's established modernism all the way to Skupina’s avantgarde experiments .

This ambitious project, showing over three hundred artworks, received contradictory reactions from critics. The section dedicated to the Skupina, a space that differed starkly from the rest of the show, was particularly controversial. This part of the exhibition was designed by Pavel Janák in the Cubo-Expressionist style and featured paintings by Emil Filla, V. H. Brunner, Ladislav Šíma, Václav Špála, Josef Čapek, Vincenc Beneš, Antonín Procházka, as well as drawings and caricatures by Zdeněk Kratochvíl. In the middle, on a Cubist plinth, stood the sculpture Anxiety, by Otto Gutfreund, who had several other works on display there. The Skupina's show generally placed an unusual emphasis on architecture and design, represented by architectural models, furniture, vases and other objects of everyday use (a lamp, cutlery, clock) designed by Pavel Janák, Josef Gočár, Vlastislav Hofman, Josef Rozsipal and Josef Chochol. A tapestry design by František Kysela complemented the whole set.

In his review of the exhibition, František Oupický takes note of the special attention dedicated to architecture and design. He interprets it as the effort on the part of the show's authors to demonstrate how the different art forms—architecture, sculpture, painting and design—complement one another, forming a visible stylistic unity [Oupický 1912, p. 374]. The authors clearly used the exhibition to manifest the Skupina members' effort to create a new style. “New art,” as they called their artistic expression oscillating between expressionism and cubism, was meant to shape not only paintings and sculptures but also furniture, vases, dishes, cutlery and other everyday objects. This way, abstract art would permeate everyday life, giving it aesthetic dimensions and deeper spirituality.

In their effort to present a new stylistic concept and establish it in the Czech milieu, the Skupina followed the Mánes Association’s previous activities. In addition to paintings and sculptures, Mánes's shows regularly featured architectural designs and photographs as well as examples of Art-Nouveau design, which first appeared at its second exhibition in 1898. F. X. Šalda's 1903 lecture entitled New Beauty: Its Genesis and Character became not only the theoretical equivalent to this style-forming ambition but also its influential manifesto. This is particularly evident in parts where Šalda writes about the new style and new beauty which “organizes both the present and the future” and about the desire to “master and transform all of life” [Šalda 1903, p. 91, 106].

Tomáš Winter

Works Cited

Oupický 1912: František Oupický, Výstava v Obecním domě u Prašné věže, Přehled X, 1911–1912, no. 21, 16. 2. 1912, p. 374

Šalda 1903: František Xaver Šalda, Nová krása: její genese a charakter (1903), in: idem, Boje o zítřek. Meditace a rapsodie, ed. Jan Mukařovský, Praha 1948, pp. 84–110

Further Reading

Miroslav Lamač, Osma a Skupina výtvarných umělců 1907–1917, Praha 1988, p. 181

Pavel Liška, Významné pražské výstavy v letech 1911–1922, in: Jiří Švestka – Tomáš Vlček (edd.), Český kubismus 1909–1925. Malířství, sochařství, umělecké řemeslo, architektura (exh. cat.), Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf 1991, p. 78

Tomáš Winter, Maison cubiste po česku, in: Otto M. Urban – Filip Wittlich (edd.), 1912. 100 let od otevření Obecního domu v Praze, Praha 2012, pp. 100–103

Tomáš Winter (ed.), Zajatec kubismu. Dílo Emila Filly v zrcadle výtvarné kritiky (1907–1953), Praha 2004, pp. 125–132

Exhibiting authors

Umělecká výstava v Obecním domě „U Prašné věže“ [Art Exhibition in the Municipal House “By the Powder Tower”]


Publisher: Union of Fine Artists – Mánes Fine Arts Association – Fine Arts Group

Place and year of publication: Praha 1912


Reviews in the press
Harlas František Xaver

Dr. Fr. X. Harlas, Rozhledy po umění výtvarném, Osvěta XLII, 1912, no. 3, 15. 3., pp. 227–232


L., Výstava výtvarného umění v Obecním domě města Prahy (II), Ratibor XXIX, 1912, no. 12, 16. 3., pp. 2–3

Macek Antonín

A. M. [Antonín Macek], Umělecká výstava v Obecním domě, Právo lidu XXI, 1912, 2nd appendix to no. 32, 2. 2., pp. 1–2

Mádl Karel Boromejský

Karel B. Mádl, K výstavě v Obecním domě, Národní listy LII, 1912, appendix to no. 48, 18. 2., p. 17

Mádl Karel Boromejský

M. [Karel Boromejský Mádl], V obecním domě... Zlatá Praha XXIX, 1911–1912, no. 23, 23. 2. 1912, pp. 278–279

Marten Miloš

Miloš Marten, Výtvarné umění, Moderní revue XVIII (vol. XXV), 1912, no. 5 (book 210), 8. 2., pp. 38–39

Medník G.

G. Medník, Jarmark, Stopa II, 1911–1912, no. 17, February 1912, pp. 492–497

Oupický F.

F. Oupický, Výstava v Obecním domě u Prašné věže, Přehled X, 1911–1912, no. 21, 16. 2. 1912, pp. 374–375


J. M. Š., Náš prvý umělecký „Salon“ (II), Osvěta lidu XVII, 1912, no. 18, 10. 2., [pp. 3–4]

Skružný Josef

Venouš Dolejš [Josef Skružný], Výstava obrazů v Reprezentačním domě, Humoristické listy LV, 1912, no. 5, 19. 1., pp. 57–58

Šalda František Xaver

F. X. Šalda, Umělecká výstava v Obecním domě u Prašné brány, Novina V, 1911–1912, no. 8, 8. 3., pp. 247–248, in: idem, Kritické projevy 9, 1912–1915, ed. Rudolf Havel – Ludmila Lantová. Praha 1954, pp. 84–85

Views of the exhibition

View of the First exhibition of The Group of Fine Artists

in the middle: Otto Gutfreund, Anxiety

paintings on the walls are by Emil Filla, Vincenc Beneš, Zdeněk Kratochvíl and Václav Špála 

by the wall stand busts by Otto Gutfreund, furniture by Vlastislav Hofman and Josef Gočár, vases by Pavel Janák


Umělecký měsíčník I, 1911–1912

View of the First exhibition of The Group of Fine Artists 

in the middle: Otto Gutfreund, Anxiety

paintings on the walls are by Emil Filla, Vincenc Beneš, Zdeněk Kratochvíl and Václav Špála, Josef Čapek and Ladislav Šíma

by the walls stand busts by Otto Gutfreund, furniture by Vlastislav Hofman and Josefa Gočára, architectural models of the House of the Black Madonna and the Evangelical church in Louny by Josef Gočár 


Umělecký měsíčník I, 1911–1912

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author, Práce členů Skupiny vystavené na umělecké výstavě v Obecním domě „U Prašné věže“. Umělecký měsíčník I, 1911–1912, p. 119

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