The Václav Špála Gallery
(Galerie Václava Špály)
The gallery was established in 1957, on Národní třída, Prague, at the location of a well-known publisher and bookshop of the first Czechoslovak Republic (Vilímkova nakladatelství a knihkupectví). It is named after Václav Špála (1885–1946), a Czech painter, printer, and illustrator, whose works are now amongst the most sought-after Czech modern art.
The Václav Špála Gallery flourished from 1965 to 1970, when it was run by the respected art theorist Jindřich Chalupecký. The prize named after him is the most important award a Czech fine artist under the age of 35 can receive. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the Communist régime forbid Chalupecký to work publicly, the gallery mainly held exhibitions of works by sanctioned artists.
In the 1990s, led by Jaroslav Krbůšek, the Václav Špála Gallery gained a reputation as a forward-looking exhibition hall focused on contemporary Czech art. It was here that the Jindřich Chalupecký Prize was first given.
Beginning in 2002 the Václav Špála Gallery was operated by the Czech Art Foundation (Nadace Český fond umění). They, however, began to lease the gallery to whoever wanted to use the space. This led to protests from people who really care about art, but these were ignored. In 2007, the Prague 1 Town Council called the first tender for a new operator of the gallery. The Semma advertising agency became the lease-holder, with the right to run the gallery till 2017. But two years later, the agency ceased to perform this activity, allegedly for financial reasons.
In 2010, the Town Council therefore called another tender. The winner this time was a project submitted by PPF Art, which thus became the gallery operator for the next ten years. The first exhibition in the new era of the Václav Špála Gallery was ‘Gagarin’s Thing’ by Jiří Černický.
The gallery focuses mainly on living professional Czech artists of the middle generation, who rank among the best painters, photographers, and sculptors on the Czech scene. The gallery shows alternate regularly between works of painting, photography, and sculpture.