Košice Modernism in its Wider ContextKošická moderna a jej presahy

Košice Modernism

Fine art of the 1920s in Košice, also referred to as Košice modernism, represents an important chapter in the history of art not only in Slovakia but also in Central Europe. After the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic, many Slovak and foreign artists found appropriate conditions for their work in Košice, which were a melting pot with a rich mixture of different nationalities and cultures. Košice became a temporary home for artists from Hungary, Romania, Bohemia and other countries, who studied in Budapest, Munich or Paris. In the 1920s, Košice represented a regional, yet very important alternative to avant-garde centres like Paris or Weimar. Art and culture in the town were systematically supported by the East Slovak Museum and in particular by its director, a Czech lawyer Josef Polák, who organised a number of art exhibitions and initiated the establishment of drawing classes (1921–1928) in the Museum under the guidance of Eugen Krón, a prominent graphic artist from Budapest. The protagonists of Košice modernism include artists like Anton Jaszusch, Konštantín Bauer (both from Košice), Gejza Schiller, František Foltýn and Alexander Bortnyik. Among the Hungarian artists displaying their works in Košice were Károly Kernstok, János Kmetty, Béla Uitz and many others. The Košice art of the 1920s was considerably influenced by Konštantín Kővari-Kačmarik (1882–1916) who was among the first to formulate the programme of modern fine art in his work. “The variety of temperaments” (J. Polák) was bound together by a common social platform and the promotion of current trends of European modern art. In their individual programmes the artists modified the influences of symbolism, expressionism, cubism, futurism and constructivism. In terms of a subject, the art of Košice modernism focused on urban environment with a considerable social dimension. A rich tradition of Košice artistic environment, culminating in the 1920s, became a basis for the work of Július Jakoby and Juraj Collinásy (both students of Krón´s drawing school), who rid themselves of the limiting conventions and drew inspiration from current trends of European modern art.

The project Košice Modernism. Košice Art in the 1920s has been initiated by the East Slovak Gallery in 2010 as a part of the concept Košice – European Capital of Culture 2013. The extensive and professionally demanding research is aimed at a detailed examination of the specific period of fine art in Košice. The research findings have been presented at an international symposium (2010) and at an international conference (2012), and are available in the form of proceedings, published by the East Slovak Gallery. Key parts of the project was held in 2013: the first comprehensive publication dealing with this remarkable period in the development of fine art in Slovakia, and a representative exhibition entitled Košice modernism in its context (13 December 2013 – 18 May 2014).


With the environment characterised by different cultures and nationalities, Košice provided suitable conditions for work to many significant personalities after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic. The town attracted artists from Hungary, Romania, Bohemia and other countries, who studied in Budapest, Munich or Paris, and lived and worked in other important European cities. Among significant domestic protagonists of Košice Modernism were Anton Jaszusch, Konštantín Bauer and Eugen Krón; Košice also became a temporary home of avant-garde artists such as Gejza Schiller, František Foltýn and Alexander Bortnyik. Leading Hungarian artists, such as Károly Kernstok, János Kmetty, Béla Uitz, etc., often visited the town and displayed their works. The publication focuses on this significant cultural phenomenon and evaluates the results of a three-year project on Košice Modernism implemented by the East Slovak Gallery, which also included the international symposium (2010) and the conference (2012). International team of art historians will present Košice in the 1920s as a regional, yet significant parallel of avant-garde centres like Paris or Weimar. The aim of the publication is to provide a comprehensive picture of the phenomenon of Košice modernism, define its character and place in artistic events of the period and evaluate its contribution to the European culture.