To be included in the forthcoming Filla catalogue raisonné by Prof. PhDr. Vojtěch Lahoda, CSc.
Greenwich, Connecticut, Bruce Museum, The Pleasures of Collecting: Part II, Modern and Contemporary Art, 2003
Jiří Hlušička, The Hascoe Collection of Czech Modern Art, Prague, 2004, p. 27, mentioned; p. 189, no. P17, catalogued; p. 61, pl. 42, illustrated
Executed in 1914.
The Hascoe Collection of Important Czech Art: An Appreciation
I do not know many collectors of Czech Modernist art abroad. This was why I was so surprised in 1999, when I had the opportunity to see Suzanne and Norman Hascoe's collection, that in the United States - in beautiful Greenwich, Connecticut, one could find oneself in a first-class gallery of Czech Modernist art. Among the stately manor and beautiful gardens of Connecticut, one might have expected to run into the Old Masters - some 17th century Dutch painter or perhaps a 19th century American painting. Instead, I encountered Emil Filla, Antonín Procházka, František Foltýn, Otto Gutfreund, and Jan Štursa - in short, painters and sculptors I was fond of but whose work I rarely ever saw in collections abroad.
The Hascoes' collection is proof of a trend that, slowly but surely Czech Modernism has become an integral part of the world scene. It is the manifestation of a phenomenon that is decidedly positive for Czech art with selected first-class works by Bohumil Kubišta, Josef Čapek or Karel Černý. To the extent that Czech art is making its way into collections abroad and international contexts generally, it is bearing out its quality and position not only on the art market, but within the framework of an evaluation of central European art as a whole.
It seems to me that the Hascoes were successful in balancing their personal predilections and preferences with that which art history sometimes defines as 'quality'. The examples of Czech Modernism in the Hascoe collection radiate from Art Nouveau (Alphonse Mucha) to the expressionistic period of the group Osma (The Eight) from 1907-1909, to the Czech Cubists and even to the Czech Modernism of the 1920s and 1930s, represented by painters like Georges Kars, Václav Špála or Jan Zrzavý. The Czech art of the 1940s is presented through key artists such as Karel Černý, František Hudeček or Zdeněk Sklenář. We can find the artworks of František Kupka in the collection as well. Kupka was an important internationally acclaimed Czech painter working in Paris, who pushed forward his oeuvre from Symbolism to Abstract art. The sculpture collection is vast, embracing important tendencies of Czech modern sculpture.
We can only hope that the Hascoe collection will serve as an excellent way of promoting Czech Modernism world-wide and that the fervor of international collectors for this art will proliferate. The Hascoe collection is a wonderful example of how two enthusiasts from the USA created a valuable assemblage of the Modern art of a country which is generally not well-known to many Western connoisseurs. The true value of this type of collection, showing the 'otherness' of Modernism, has only recently been recognized internationally.
Prof. PhDr. Vojtěch Lahoda, CSc.
Author and main editor of The History of the Czech Visual Arts Vols. IV., V., VI., Prague 1998, 2005, 2007; Czech Cubism, Prague, 1996; Emil Filla, Prague 2007.The Hascoe Collection of Important Czech Art: Its breadth and depth
The Hascoe Collection of Czech Modern Art reflects Norman and Suzanne Hascoe's foresight, intellectual curiosity and considerable determination over a period of twenty-five years to assemble what is one of the finest collections of Czech Modernist paintings, sculpture and works on paper outside the Czech Republic.
It was a group of like-minded students at Prague's Academy of Fine Arts who first undermined the status quo. Influenced by what they gleaned from art periodicals from abroad, and the exhibitions mounted by the local Manés Association of Artists (SVU Manés), they rejected the Academy's dry and academic curriculum and formed Osma (The Eight) in 1907. The work of six of the eleven original members of Osma feature prominently in the Hascoe Collection, including examples by Filla and Kubišta, Vincenc Beneš, Antonín Procházka, Václav Špála, and Otakar Kubín.
To begin with it was the Expressionism of Edvard Munch and the hot colours of Matisse and the Fauves in Paris that occupied Osma. But by the end of the decade it was the emergence of Cubism that fascinated them. In 1911 some of the Osma artists re-grouped to form the The Group of Fine Artists. Their number included painters Filla, Beneš, Čapek, Špála and the sculptor Gutfreund. Gutfreund had returned from France to Prague in 1911 and had valuable first hand experience of Paris to contribute. During the following three years The Group of Fine Artists held autumn exhibitions which featured the work of both the German Expressionists and Cubist painters Braque, Juan Gris and Picasso.
As with the paintings in the Hascoe Collection, the sculpture that Norman and Suzanne acquired also reveals the variety of Czech sculptural interests of the day. These range from the Symbolism of Stanislav Sucharda to the melding of man and machine in Otakar Švec's Sunbeam Motorcyclist. But it is Jan Štursa and Otto Gutfreund whose work forms the heart of the Hascoe sculpture collection. In their two very different styles they capture the essence of the human form, Štursa's fashioned from a poetic vision, Gutfreund's revealed through his interest in Expressionism and his analysis of Cubism.
It is the work of František Kupka in the Hascoe Collection, however, which fully shows the power of the artist to define universal truths. Living most of his working life in Paris, Kupka's disciplined approach to his research into abstraction at a distance from his native Prague gives his work a simplicity and objectivity that few other Czech artists of the period can match. Combining organic forms with his interest in music and a growing fascination with machinery, the Hascoe collection of Kupka's work offers an international perspective on Czech art of the period that positions it emphatically on the world stage.
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