Prague diary: Toyen exhibition

Vidím neboť je noc/I see for it is night
Museum Kampa, 05.09.15-16.02.16

Žlutý spektr/Yellow Spectre, 1934

Today I finally got round to seeing the Toyen exhibition at Museum Kampa. It has been extended to the 16th of February, which must mean it’s been popular, and I could see why: it brings together a well-chosen range of Toyen’s paintings (and a few drawings), from a variety of scattered locations. Many come from private collections. It’s exciting to see all these pictures in one place, and they are definitely worth seeing ‘live’: the colours have a luminous quality, with half-defined shapes appearing from the darkness.

My only real criticism applies to all the exhibitions I’ve seen at Museum Kampa: there is hardly any commentary on the art. Instead, the gallery offers a superficial timeline of the artist’s life, including a few tantalising facts which are not discussed further or related to the work. In this case, the timeline mentions that Toyen hid the artist and poet Jindřich Heisler in Prague from 1941 until the end of the war. I would have liked to know more about that, and also about the young Parisian surrealists who apparently helped to name her paintings.

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