Databáze uměleckých výstav v českých zemích 1820 – 1950

Exhibition of Jan Bauch

Date:16. February 1940 – 3. March 1940

Place: Prague, Topič Salon

Organizer:Topič Salon, Prague

Conception:[Kamil Novotný]


In Spring 1940, the Topič Salon, one of the most important private galleries in Prague, housed an extensive exhibition of paintings by Jan Bauch. It was prepared and likely also opened by Kamil Novotný, who had an opening speech at Bauch’s first solo exhibition in Štorch Marien’s Aventinum Mansard in 1926. Like the first Bauch show, this was a sales exhibition. It presented 52 of Bauch’s works and, with the exception of two watercolours and six drawings, it mostly included oil and tempera paintings from the artist's estate; there were also several paintings from private collections. Although the catalogue does not list dates of origin nor the dimensions of works, the titles indicate that the exhibition included figural compositions, works with biblical themes eloquently reflecting the anxious atmosphere and fear of the wartime period, as well as still lifes, landscapes and urban motifs; the exhibition also included Bauch’s famous, spontaneously rendered glowing paintings of Prague's Belvedere and Hradčany.

Novotný’s catalogue introduction briefly recapitulates the artist's life and explains his solitary position on the Czech art scene at the time, while also discussing his artistic expression. Novotný argues that the Bauch’s reclusiveness, idiosyncratic personality and his perception of life and the things around him stem from an inner contradiction in his nature. The “subtle instinct” that guides his work, writes Novotný, stands in opposition to the "fierce temperament" with which he responds to immediate perceptions. The inner tension, intensive expression, dynamism and contrast characterizing Bauch’s paintings are crescendos between "inarticulate cries and silence" [Novotný 1940, p. 2]. Further on, Novotný claims that Bauch’s works at the exhibition present a “confession,” an expression of the artist’s despair over the times he was witnessing, leading him to contemplate the legacy of the cultural past.

The show received many reviews and all were positive. Each of the reviewers was attracted to Bauch's spontaneous painterly presentation, the vividness of his glowing colours and their expressive and symbolic function; Bauch’s artistic language was a much-discussed topic in these reviews. In his text for Lidové noviny, the painter and art critic Otakar Mrkvička says: “Bauch is a colour lyricist. A colour that does not convey common optical experiences, is not descriptive (...) To convey expression. This is its only function. Nothing else binds it. [Colour] is the only one that builds” [om 1940, p. 9]. Jan Rey in the periodical Brázda expresses a similar view, while also commenting on Bauch’s style: “It is neither fashion nor defiance that leads his brush. It is the unshackled temperament of the painter, who, avoiding everyone, composes, mostly for himself, a lyrical confession of contrasting shapes and bold colours. His paintings sometimes remind one of Rouault's brush, especially in religious motifs (...), but they always express a personal drama” [jr 1940, p. 93].

In his text for the daily Národní politika, Vojtěch Volavka also noticed Bauch’s closeness to the style of Georges Rouault. He saw similarities in not only the expressive colours but also the “strong moral sense.” Volavka was particularly surprised by Bauch’s religious motifs. “Although he has been grappling with them for about two years,” writes Volavka, “he has not yet had the opportunity to exhibit them.” [–k– 1940, p. 3] Further on, Volavka explains Bauch’s intention: “Content and expression have always played an important role for Bauch, as in the case of most colourists for whom colour is the primary means of expression. That the human mind is turning to God again today is certainly not strange in this case. All the more so since we could already observe a similar transition and a similar connection in, for example, Bauch's French counterpart, Rouault.” [–k– 1940, p. 3] But Volavka was also intrigued by another connection, namely with the religious art of El Greco – here, too, a similar dark background is used, making “figures, flowers, or trees grow out of the paint, illuminated sharply from the side.” Further similarities can be found in Bauch’s rendition of elongated figures “as if tilted by internal tension, and thrust in the pictorial space.” [–k– 1940, p. 3]

Jindřich Chalupecký also mentions the dark background in Bauch's paintings. “Floral still lifes that other painters treat as joyful artistic refreshments, have darkened, becoming a profound affair which, Mácha-inspired, sees only decay and death around it. Some paintings from Prague (Hradčany, Belvedere) attest to Bauch’s mystical vision of his native city.” Chalupecký adds: “Bauch’s exhibition is one of the greatest artistic statements of recent times. It has not only artistic values – but above all human values, as should be the case with every valuable work of art.” [ch. 1940, p. 4]. In his review, Jaroslav Pecháček also pointed out the dense black that regulates the vivid colours and firmly formulates the shapes. He, too, was captivated by the biblical motifs on display. On the series of Passion scenes, he notes: “It is as if the path that Bauch has followed so far, despite the different themes, led here, to the suffocating sadness of these paintings, which do not radiate the brightness of faith, but the oppressive, crushing fear of the evil that has flooded the world” [Pchč. 1940, p. 7]. The final words of the review in Národní práce also reflect the oppressive atmosphere during the Protectorate: “these are paintings in which modern art is once again looking for a path to humanity and to the expression of its tragic fate.” [jk 1940, p. 4]

Rudolf Marek’s review in Národní listy is also filled with deep insight and admiration for Bauch’s paintings of Christ’s Passion. Marek noticed that the scenes are always depicted twice, each time in a new way. This led him to think “that the painter sought to master the subject fully and personally. And he indeed mastered it. So much fierce, intimate heat radiates from these paintings, so much tortured humanity they express, that you believe the artist was painting, or rather kneading his own drama out of the pain. And through that, the human drama in general. (...) I believe, these paintings by Bauch are the key to his personality.” [Marek 1940, p. 3]

The exhibition confirmed the exclusive nature of Bauch’s artistic talent, his courage to find his own way and set difficult goals for himself, to look under the surface of things and events, to express himself through symbols and the great synthesis. The works he presented there reflected his own struggles stemming from his perception of the current situation, but, as we read in the reviews, they managed to speak for others; this was the exhibition’s great strength. 

Mahulena Nešlehová

Works Cited

ch. 1940: ch. [Jindřich Chalupecký], Výstava Jana Baucha. (Topičův salon), Národní noviny XVI, 1940, no. 48, 24. 2., p. 4

jr 1940: jr [Jan Rey], Výstava Jana Baucha, Brázda III (21), 1940, no. 8, 21. 2., p. 93 

–k– 1940: –k– [Vojtěch Volavka], Malby Jana Baucha v Topičově salonu, Národní politika LVIII, 1940, no. 60, 1. 3., p. 3

om 1940: om [Otakar Mrkvička], Malíř Jan Bauch. K výstavě jeho obrazů v Topičově salonu, Lidové noviny XXXXVIII, 1940, no. 100, 25. 2., p. 9

Novotný 1940: Kamil Novotný, Výstava Jana Baucha (exh. cat.), Praha 1940, p. 2

Pchč. 1940: Pchč. [Jaroslav Pecháček], Výstava Jana Boucha, Naše zprávy II, 1940, no. 18, 2. 3., p. 7

Further Reading

 Jan Bauch, Čím jsem žil, Praha 1980

Jiří Kotalík, Jan Bauch, Výběr z díla 1928–1980. Obrazy. Plastika. Kresby (exh. cat.), Národní galerie v Praze 1980

Václav Nebeský, L’Art modern tchécoslovaque, Paris 1937

Jan Spurný, Jan Bauch, Praha 1948 (2nd edition 1978)

Exhibiting authors

Exhibition of Jan Bauch


Publisher: Topič Salon, printworks unspecified

Place and year of publication: Praha, 1940

Author/s of the introduction:Novotný Kamil
Reviews in the press
Chalupecký Jindřich

ch. [Jindřich Chalupecký], Výstava Jana Baucha (Topičův salon), Národní noviny XVI, 1940, no. 48, 24. 2., p. 4 


jk, Nové obrazy Jana Baucha, Národní práce,1940 (2), no. 62, 3. 3., p. 4 

Kotalík Jiří

Jiří Kotalík, Několik osobních dojmů z výstav. Malíř plnokrevný a naslouchač dnešku. (Jan Bauch v Topičově salonu), Studentský časopis XIX, 1939–1940, no. 7, 10. 3., p. 217 


- kr, Výstava Jana Baucha, Nedělní list XIV, 1940, no. 48, 18. 2., p. 6 

Marek Josef Richard

Josef Richard Marek, Soubor J. Baucha a obrazy a lidé v D 40, Národní listy LXXX, 1940, no. 60, 2. 3., p. 3 

Mokrý František Viktor

František Viktor Mokrý, Obrazy Jana Baucha v Topičově salonu, Venkov XXXV, 1940, no. 53, 5. 3., p. 6 

Mrkvička Otakar

om [Otakar Mrkvička], Malíř Jan Bauch. K výstavě jeho obrazů v Topičově salonu, Lidové noviny XXXXVIII, 1940, no. 100, 25. 2., p. 9

Pecháček Jaroslav

Pchč. [Jaroslav Pecháček], Výstava Jana Baucha, Naše zprávy II, 1940, no. 18, 2. 3., p. 7 

Rey Jan

jr [Jan Rey], Výstava Jana Baucha, Brázda III (21), 1940, no. 8, 21. 2., p. 93 

Roubíček Rudolf

RK. [Rudolf Roubíček], Grafik a malíř, Národní střed XXII, 1940, no. 52, 3. 3., p. 8

Vacke Josef

Josef Vacke, Vášeň malířského výrazu. Výstava Jana Baucha v Topičově salonu, Národní práce, Večerní, 1940 (2), 28. 2., Archive of the National Gallery in Prague, funds Modern Gallery, Books of Newspaper Clippings, inv. no. 939, vol. 14, 1939–1940

Volavka Vojtěch

–k– [Vojtěch Volavka], Malby Jana Baucha v Topičově salonu, Národní politika LVIII, 1940, no. 60, 1. 3., p. 3 

Vydrová Jiřina

V-á (Jiřina Vydrová), Výstava malíře Jana Baucha, České slovo XXXII, 1940, no. 51, 2. 3., p. 8 

Brief notes about the exhibition

Anonymous author: Výstavy, Jan Buch, Národní listy LXXX, 1940, no. 54, 25. 2., p. 12

Anonymous author, Výstava J. Baucha, XII, A–Zet , 1940, no. 34, z 20. 2., p. [4]

od, Včera večer byla otevřena..., Lidové noviny, XXXXVIII, 1940, Archive of the National Gallery in Prague, funds Modern Gallery, Books of Newspaper Clippings, inv. no. 939, vol. 14, 1939–1940

-tr-, Tři výtvarné výstavy Topičova salonu, Lidové noviny XXXXVIII, 1940, 16. 2., Archive of the National Gallery in Prague, funds Modern Gallery, Books of Newspaper Clippings, inv. no. 939, vol. 14, 1939–1940

Dr. V., V Topičově saloně byla v pátek..., Národní práce Vol. 1940, 17. 2., Archive of the National Gallery in Prague, funds Modern Gallery, Books of Newspaper Clippings, inv. no. 939, vol. 14, 1939–1940



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