Milan Knížák


Milan Knížák
Allan Kaprow's standart work Assemblage, Environments & Happenings (1966), contains amongst others images of mysterious happenings in Prague's old city centre. Other Prague pictures show a sort of 'street still lifes'. These are made up with items like discarded furniture, electrical appliances and so on: bulky waste left on the streets by the citizens of Prague on days when the city's 'Sanitation Department' would drive by and pick it all up.
All these projects were initiated by Milan Knížák and they made him an internationally well-known artist.
The communist government thought of Knížák as an 'enemy of the state'. He was watched by the Czechoslovakian authorities and also got arrested several times. I sent him many letters, but the majority never arrived.
In 1979, Knížák travelled to Berlin with a scholarship from DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst = German Academic Exchange Service). That same year he had an exhibition in Galerie A and also designed the cover and some pages for Artzien, an art magazine published by Michael Gibbs in cooperation with Galerie A.
After the abolishment of the communist régime, Knížák was offered the post of Minister of Culture but he just didn't feel like it. About a decade later, he received an offer he could not refuse: from 1999 till 2011 Prof. Milan Knížák was the director of the
country's most important museum, the National Gallery Prague. He still had enemies: during a visit in 2005, I couldn't help but notice a loaded gun in one of the drawers of his desk.
Knížák's new position included the responsibility for the organisation of the Prague Biennale in 2005. Galerie A was invited and came up with a special theme exhibition for the occasion.
This resulted in a retrospective of art in unlimited editions: invitations, stickers, stationery, bags, buttons, puzzles, rubber stamps, T-shirts, fridge magnets, tableware, wallpaper, bottles of wine, inflatable dolls and chocolate figurines.
The show also included 'artist's newspapers', like the beautiful series Point d'Ironie by agnès b. Their latest issue was reproduced in large numbers and handed out to the visitors of the Prague Biennale.
(27.06.20]