The Velvet Revolution in 1989 marks the beginning of the post-communist transformation of Czech society, which has had a profound influence on the field of visual arts. In the 1990s, artists were suddenly confronted with a vast number of new freedoms, such as the freedom to establish independent associations, to exhibit avant-garde art at official venues.
Museums of art
As one of the oldest institutions, the National Gallery Prague has at its disposal the most valuable collection of modern art. However, due to the communist adherence to conventional art forms and a problematic organisational structure, it struggles to sufficiently represent contemporary art. Another significant collection and high-quality exhibition programme is presented by the Moravian Gallery in Brno, which has recently digitized its collection and made it accessible to view online. Apart from these two major institutions, there are several established museums that focus predominantly on the work of Czech modern and contemporary artists, such as the Prague City Gallery, Museum Kampa in Prague, 8smička in Humpolec or the Museum of Modern Art in Olomouc.
Galeries, art centers and spaces
The work of international artists is also showcased in well-established exhibition spaces such as the Galerie Rudolfinum, an institution well-known for presenting the work of influential Western artists, or the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, which was founded as a private initiative and offers a multi-disciplinary programme. Among the smaller independent spaces, which also showcase the work of contemporary international artists, the most well-known are the FUTURA, Meetfactory, and Tranzitdisplay, an initiative that has been a long-term advocate of post-colonial discourse and recently split into two independent projects: Tranzit.cz and Display (Association for Research and Collective Practice). A dense network of smaller galleries founded since 1989 predominantly promotes the work of local artists, such as the Jelení and Kurzor Gallery in Prague, part of the Foundation and Center for Contemporary Arts Prague, TIC Gallery in Brno, Emil Filla Gallery in Ústí nad Labem, and many others.
Contemporary art in the Czech Republic has also expanded beyond the white walls of the purposely-founded art galleries. It revives industrial heritage, as is the case of the platform PLATO in Ostrava, symbolically commemorates major historical events, such as the Lidice Gallery, or directly intervenes in the public space, which is true for the Artwall Gallery in Prague. An intervention in the public space is also a key feature of many art festivals. Since the 1990s, the performance festival Malamut has showcased both local and international artists active in the field of public art, the festival Brno Art Open expands the notion of sculpture in the public space, and every autumn, the Fotograf Festival in Prague organises a number of exhibitions and events, presenting contemporary artists and compelling topics. Not only does it organise a festival and run an exhibitions space focused on the medium of photography, the Fotograf platform also publishes an internationally renowned Fotograf magazine, contributing to the locally flourishing tradition of fine-art photography.
Magazines, awards, schools
The interconnection of magazine and art festival was also characteristic of the Prague Biennial Foundation, which was working closely with the publisher of Flash Art magazine. Though the Prague Biennial no longer takes place, the Flash Art Czech & Slovak edition still provides an overview of the cutting-edge tendencies of the Czechoslovak art scene. Among the most important internationally-distributed periodicals is the Umělec magazine published by Divus – one of the most influential initiatives founded at the beginning of the 1990s, which has been providing artists with an independent platform ever since. Another important initiative founded in 1990 is the Jindřich Chalupecký Society, which aims to promote Czech contemporary art in an international context and annually organises the prestigious Jindřich Chalupecký Award for artists up to the age of 35. The artists nominated for this prize are commonly schooled at the established art academies, namely the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (UMPRUM) in Prague, or at the arts faculties in Brno, Ostrava, and Ústí nad Labem.