The contemporary art scene in Prague
Prague’s contemporary arts scene first came into focus in the golden interwar period of the first Republic of Czechoslovakia, when creatives like Josef Capek, Toyen, Otakar Kubin and Frantisek Kupka were doing work that was getting noticed all over Europe.
Since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 – the first time the country gained its freedom since that golden era – the newly international Prague has been pushing to regain its former glory, and in the process has been busy cultivating a hip local arts scene that has a lot offer curious tourists.
Unlike most cities which have a defined art street or neighborhood, in Prague, galleries are spread out and almost completely located outside the typical tourist areas. Here are four that you should definitely check out while you are here:
Jiri Svestka Gallery
Going since 1995, and located just outside the Old Town, Jiri Svestka Gallery has done arguably more than any other gallery in fostering the local art scene and pushing Czech artists onto the international scene. Much is its popularity that it recently opened a sister gallery in Berlin.
Housed in an unassuming old brick factory building, it’s hard to find unless you know where you’re going and a great chance to tick off “hidden Prague” from your list.
Hunt Kastner Gallery
To see this place, you’ll have to take a trek over to the fashionable Žižkov part of the city. In an example of Prague’s increasingly international art scene, this place is run by two expats, Canadian Camille Hunt and American Katherine Kastner. While unknown to most tourists, the place has become a fixture of the local community, and has acted as a staging post for several local young and progressive artists – and has also presented their work at several major fairs abroad.
A visit here also gives you the distinct advantage of being close to the nearby Letna Park – a great place to sip beers under the evening sun in spring and summer.
DOX Center for Contemporary Art
If you find yourself walking along the beautiful Vltava River, be sure to stop in a DOX Center for Contemporary Art – a former sheet metal factory that has found new life as a grand art space with larger than life exhibitions. Over the years it’s put on 100+ exhibitions, cementing its reputation among Europe’s galleries.
Their library, chic design store and cafe are other great reasons to stop by for the afternoon.
Karlin Studios & Hall
Another off-the-beaten-track gallery can be found in the fast-developing Karlin neighborhood – the only part of Prague built on a grid system – a neighborhood that some feel may have the potential of becoming the city’s ‘art district’.
Karlin Studios opened in 2005 as work spaces for developing artists. Many leave their doors open for visitors and the ground floor has an exhibition space. And, around the corner can be found the Karlin Hall, which used host the Prague Biennial and continues to host various exhibitions.