Běla Kolářová

31 January to 7 April 2013

Raven Row presents the first posthumous retrospective of the work of Czech artist Běla Kolářová (1923–2010). The show was both the first solo exhibition of the artist in the UK and the first major survey of her work outside the Czech Republic.

 

From her trademark ‘artificial negatives’, ‘light drawings’ and ‘derealised portraits’ to her assemblages and collages, Běla Kolářová pioneered an art based on intimate objects often associated with domesticity and the feminine. The works on display will span Kolářová’s career to include documentary photographs from the late fifties, camera-less experiments, ‘arranged photographs’ of objects and hair and assemblages from the sixties, as well as make-up drawings and assemblages from the seventies and eighties.

 

While rooted in the context of the Cold War and exile, Běla Kolářová’s practice is also closely linked to the life of her husband, the influential artist and poet Jiří Kolář, whose work overshadowed her own until its recent rediscovery. Despite the difficulties of exhibiting in her own country, she was able to develop a unique body of work, both formally and conceptually. As this exhibition will demonstrate, its legacy to the history of art – on both sides of the Iron Curtain – is anything but modest, unlike its materials and its author’s personality.

 

An accompanying catalogue published by Raven Row includes new essays by Prague-based writer and curator Karel Císař and Matthew S. Witkovsky, Chair and Curator of the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as an edited conversation between Alice Motard and Czech art historian Marie Klimešová, who organised the most complete exhibition of the artist’s work to date at Olomouc Museum of Art in the Czech Republic in 2006.

 

The exhibition is curated by Marie Klimešová and Alice Motard.

 

 

Běla Kolářová (born 1923, Terezín, former Czechoslovakia, died 2010, Prague). In 1980, during the era of ‘Normalisation’, Běla and her husband Jiří Kolář left Czechoslovakia and lived in Paris before moving back to Prague in 1999. Běla Kolářová’s work can be found in a number of private and public collections, among which the National Gallery and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Moravian Gallery in Brno, the Olomouc Museum of Art, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. Since it was shown at documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007, her work has been included in group exhibitions in Vienna, Paris, London, Schwaz (Austria) and Cologne.

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

From left to right:

Běla Kolářová

Stránka z Ovidia [Page from Ovid], 1964

Boucles de cheveux [Hair Locks], 1964

Vlasy [Hair], 1964

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich, Rüdiger Schöttle

and the Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Foreground:

Běla Kolářová

Bez názvu [Untitled] from the series ‘Dishes’, 1966

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

From left to right:

Běla Kolářová

Rébus [Riddle], 1964

Automat na polykání peněz [Vending Machine for Eating Money], 1966

Photograph by Eva Herzog

The North Bohemian Gallery of Fine Art in Litoměřice and the Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

 

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Foreground:

Běla Kolářová

Bez názvu [Untitled] from the series ‘Dishes’, 1966

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Detail:

Běla Kolářová

Bez názvu [Untitled] from the series ‘Dishes’, 1966

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Foreground:

Běla Kolářová

Bez názvu [Untitled] from the series ‘Dishes’, 1966

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová  

Vzorník kosmetiky [Swatch of Cosmetics], 1966

Photograph by Eva Herzog 

Olomouc Museum of Art

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Foreground:

Pozitiv-negativ [Positive-Negative], 1965

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Left to right:

Běla Kolářová

Žiletka I [Razor Blade I], 1969

Kdybychom mohly vyprávět [If We Could Talk], 1969

Marie a Eva [Mary and Eve], 1975

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Private collection, Prague, the Estate of Běla Kolářová and Nadace DrAK Dr. Altenburg Kohl

 

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Šestiobraz [Six Images], 1981

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Michal Mánek collection, Prague

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Left to right:

Běla Kolářová

Smotky hnědých vlasů [Tufts of Brown Hair], 1980

Snová krajina [Dream Landscape], 1980

Photograph by Eva Herzog 

Estate of Běla Kolářová

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Left:

Běla Kolářová

Mezi Paříží a Prahou [Between Paris and Prague], 1990–2009

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Untitled photographs from the series ‘Children’s Games’, 1957

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Mezi Paříží a Prahou [Between Paris and Prague], 1990–2009

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Foreground:

Display table with ‘artificial negatives’ from the series ‘Cut-outs’, ‘Traces’ and ‘Vegetages’, 1961

Background:

Bez názvu [Untitled], undated (1970s)

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Bez názvu [Untitled], undated (1970s)

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

‘Artificial negatives’ from the series ‘Cut-outs’,

‘Traces’ and ‘Vegetages’, 1961

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

‘Artificial negative’, 1961

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Foreground:

Display table with ‘artificial negatives’ from the series ‘Cut-outs’, ‘Traces’ and ‘Vegetages’, 1961

Background:

Černé sirky [Black Matches] from the series 'Traces', 1961. Photogram; print from 'artificial negative'. 

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Private collection and Estate of Běla Kolářová

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Folder containing 'artificial negatives' and their resulting prints

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Photograms from the series ‘Traces’ and ‘Vegetages’,

1961

Prints from ‘artificial negatives’

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

Běla Kolářová

Slalom, 1985

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Private collection, Prague

 

 

Běla Kolářová

Jewellery prototypes, 1968

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Belt prototype, 1968

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Left to right:

Běla Kolářová

Vzorník pro Didonu [Swatch for Dido], 1964

Vzorník pro Kleopatru [Swatch for Cleopatra], 1964

Útek pro Penelopu [Weft for Penelope], 1964/1990s

The North Bohemian Gallery of Fine Art in Litoměřice,and private collection, Prague

 

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Pocta Ueckerovi [Homage to Uecker], 1968–69/2004

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Untitled ‘arranged photographs’ with configurations

of domestic and organic objects, undated (1963–64)

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Exhibition view, Běla Kolářová, Raven Row, 2013

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Make-up drawings, 1976–86

Photograph by Marcus J. Leith

Olomouc Museum of Art and the Estate of Běla Kolářová

 

Běla Kolářová

Make-up drawings, 1976–86

Foreground:

Dnes a denně semafory rtů [Day after Day, Semaphors of Lips], 1979

Photograph by Eva Herzog

Olomouc Museum of Art