The Collection for Jindřich Chalupecký

This collection for the celebrated art historian and critic Jindřich Chalupecký (1910-1990), a key figure on the Czech and European art scene despite being blacklisted by the communist regime, was assembled at the end of 1989 and was then exhibited at the National Gallery under the title A Tribute to Jindřich Chalupecký. The plan was for the collection to be sold and the revenue put towards buying a dialysis machine for Chalupecký, who was by then seriously ill and whose work had meant so much for the development of Czech post-war art.

The exhibition was only open briefly, from 16 to 28 January 1990, with a hastily-printed guide. It was organised by the National Gallery and the Czech committee of the PEN Club. The collection was largely put together by Meda Mládek and Jiří Šetlík, who donated works by artists from various generations. It was decided that the Charter 77 Foundation would cover two-thirds of the costs of the dialysis machine and the remaining third would be a private gift from Meda Mládek. It was also decided that the collection would remain complete and would be part of the collection of the Museum of Central and East European Contemporary Art that Jan and Meda Mládek had accumulated over several decades while living in Washington.

Ultimately, however, the dialysis machine’s manufacturer, a Swedish company called Gambro that had an office in Czechoslovakia, decided to donate the machine to the Czechoslovak health service. After the exhibition closed the collection was rehoused at Prague Castle. It features works by Václav Cigler, Václav Boštík, Aleš Veselý, Karel Malich, Jiří Anderle, Bedřich Dlouhý, Hugo Demartini, Daisy Mrázková, Jiří Načeradský, Adriena Šimotová, Zdeněk Sýkora, Eva Kmentová, Olbram Zoubek, Karel Nepraš, Pavel Nešleha, Kurt Gebauer, Petr Pavlík, Václav Stratil and many other major artists.