Monday, December 8, 2014

Forgotten Art

Forgotten Art - Transitions Online

A link to my article on artist-activist Pavel Karous, who has spent the past several years advocating for the preservation of public art created during the last two decades of communism. I contextualize his work within the 25th anniversary of the end of communism in Central Europe. This summer I spent two weeks in Prague interviewing Karous as well as architecture critics, historians, and urban planners. This article also includes my interview with Ondřej Matějka, Deputy Director for the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Matějka’s analysis of Czech society helps to explain the dynamics of the art preservation movement. What’s really at stake here is society and government deciding what gets remembered and preserved as well as what gets pushed out of the debate altogether.


  1. As always, when reading your writing, my mind has been blown.

  2. Thanks for this piece. It provided some interesting food for thought regarding public art that I see regularly as I move around Vinohrady. Some works seem more "successful" from an artistic point of view but I remember being struck by the inclusion of public art in the construction of a TV tower in Krkonose when I was hiking in the area. Not necessarily the most successful piece of art but also not a bad idea to set aside a part of the budget toward art, even as you debate the aesthetic value of what was produced.

    Thanks to Transitions for running the piece and for introducing me to you and your work. At least virtually!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Paul. I've been struck since writing this piece about how narrow the debate is regarding public art in the US. It's usually a question of who is paying for this, or what is the artistic value of this, instead of what does this say about us as a people/nation. Btw, I saw several public sculptures in Prague I'd love to have in my backyard.

    2. Hmmm...something in your response triggered a possible response to your question. Folks in the US tend to have backyards while Europeans in urban areas are more reliant on public green spaces. They may feel more responsible to beautify those spaces. Just a thought.

      Debates about aesthetics are always difficult to have though since beauty tend to be in eye of the beholder. Or in the eye of the one writing the check!