- Emil Filla
- Still Life with Guitar
- signed and dated Emil Filla 29. lower right
- oil and tempera on canvas
- 58 by 43cm., 22¾ by 17in.
Sale: Auktionshaus J. Weiner, Munich, 15 May 1991, lot 13a
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Following extensive travels across the continent, he pioneered an idiosyncratic Czech national style at the confluence of European modern art movements. This so-called ‘Cubo-Expressionism’ synthesised the troubled spiritual atmosphere of central Europe, as exemplified by Edvard Munch and the Die Brücke artists, with the pictorial structure of the Paris Cubists. It soon became the hallmark of the group Osma (the Eight) and the Group of Fine Artists, co-founded by Filla in 1911.
By the end of the 1920s, Filla had joined the S.V.U. Mánes group and was adopting a more orthodox Cubist technique to deconstruct the surrounding world, evident in Still Life with Guitar. In such works, the artist moves away from the metaphysical and focuses on expressing his affinity for the concrete and physical realm.
Although unlike its French counterpart Czech Cubism often touched on religious and symbolist themes, the present work, which is related to the important frescoes by the artist in Mánes, Prague, is very Parisian in subject matter. The guitar, one of the most recurring motifs in Filla’s still-lifes, immediately attracts the viewer’s attention in the top right corner with a double shadow in black and olive. Next to it, there is a bowl of fruit with grapes and what might be a part of a newspaper in front of it on the table. The remaining shapes have become mere reminders of objects in a painting that verges on the abstract, displaying harmony of form and colour.