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Zlín: Don’t Call it a Utopia -or A Garden City by an Industrialist, Who Turned Dreams into SecondsUmělec 2010/2
Alena Boika | in transition | en cs de
My acquaintance with Zlín began when I was preparing the material on Yekaterinburg—the city which is known for its spectacular monuments to the constructivist epoch. Both cities can be proud of being the architectural embodiment of their respective conceptual ideals and, despite the fact those ideals are different to one another both cities architecture is determined by this evidence of Utopias. The difference rests in the fact that Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk in the Soviet period, came into the category of the ‘forgotten’ and modestly repealed utopias. Zlín (Gottwaldov from 1949 to 1989), despite the brilliant results of this “utopia in action,” has never been recognized as a fully ‘realized utopia’, which is unique in itself, instead the achievements were hushed up and forgotten no doubt deliberately; the capitalist ideal that the city was built on has too clearly implemented the socialistic ideas and vice versa.
My work can not disappear, and will not disappear. All of these buildings, factory chimneys—they might—after all they are just piles of bricks and rusty iron. But my system will remain—for the prosperity of those who will come after us.
Having been born in the Soviet Union and having lived there for a brief but crucial period of my development, I used to believe that ‘a utopia’ was something that Tommaso Campanella had dreamed of in The City of the Sun, Plato in The Allegory of the Cave or Chernyshevski in Vera Pavlovna’s dreams (in his What to do? novel). For quite a long time it never even occurred to me that I was lucky enough to live in a utopia although only fully realized for a certain time. I failed to understand it at the time since the formation of my young self-consciousness was coming to its fruition at the time when the Soviet Union was collapsing and undergoing harsh criticism and other perturbations, in which the young mind was desperately involved. The Revolution of the year 1917 began to be called a take-over, the ideological values were done away with and Utopia as a term was never used in regard to the collapsed system—since it was thought that the idea had been implemented, while a utopia is considered to be “impossible, infeasible, needless.” Only much later they started talking about the faults, failures, victims and mistakes—about the impossibility of building socialism/communism due to the deformation of the original ideas. Nevertheless, the ideas embodied in the architecture and art, especially in the 1920-30s, undoubtedly represent the brightest examples of the human spirit’s flight and the flowering of idealism—none of which, in my opinion, has humanity in general been able to replicate, either in the country of their birth or in the world as a whole.
When I discovered this Czech town Zlín and familiarized myself with the details of its history, I was over-enthused: for the first time in my life I had come across a utopia which had been realized and had actually been working (and which, on both these grounds, could no longer be described as a utopia any longer). But due to the fact that both the concept and the town were to be found somewhere on the periphery of history and did not last long, this very term—Utopia—had been once and for all attached to Zlín in conjunction with the term Bat’a to refer to a half-forgotten dream, which is only of any interest perhaps to archivists and historians.
The cut out red letters, representing the most famous Czech shoe brand, are familiar not only to the Czechs, but also to consumers in other countries. But as it has turned out that very few people know that Bat’a refers not only to shoes, but also—and above all—to the idea of capitalism with a socialist face, or vice versa. I’m not sure that Tomas Bat’a had ever defined it so, but at its core it can be expressed in that way.
How it all began.
The Bat’a shoe enterprise dates back to the 17th century and was inherited from father to son across the generations. In 1895, when Tomáš Bat’a, with his brother Antonín, started in their family’s shoe business, it numbered only 10 workers in the workshop and 40 out-workers who did their work at home. The enterprise was gradually growing; more and more people wishing to work for Bat’a came from the surrounding villages. Even at this time Tomas Bat’a was not unfamiliar with socialist ideas: he participated in the founding of the Sokol organization in 1898 for the development of, “physical and moral culture,” this would later become a vital tool for the cohesion of (as well as the manipulation of) civil society. Later, he and his brother took part in the organization of the Zlín Social Democratic Trade Union (Zlínská organizace Sociálně demokratických odborů, 1903). However, soon after the workers’ uprising in 1905 Bat’a completely lost his interest in politics and targeted all of his further efforts exclusively toward the improvement of the social system, the state of which the prosperity of his family business directly depended.
In 1899 in Zlín a railroad line was constructed, and immediately afterwards in 1900 Bat’a built a new factory directly beside the railway station. This became the center of the future city. The new verticals were growing, and the church spires that once dominated were now ousted by the factory chimneys. A trip to North America, where the young Bat’a came not just to look at, but also to work at several shoe factories, greatly impressed him and largely determined the direction of his own company’s development. Following this ‘practical travel’ Bat’a started developing a new factory building, which was constructed by the architect D. Fey in 1906. In 1912-13 the first houses for employees were built. This is usually considered to be the beginning of the epoch of constructivism and functionalism in Zlín (conventionally limited to the 1910–1960s).
With the First World War came the first order from the government—fifty thousand pairs of military boots—which entailed a new stage in the company’s rapid growth. The journalist F. Obrtel in his article America in Zlín wrote, “... you can see and feel everywhere in Zlín the cult of impassioned work, which outdoes even itself ... the Bat’a factory is ... a colossus. It is a city within a city, a veritable labyrinth, or, if you prefer, America.”
We are building a garden city.
In addition to managing the enterprise (the footwear production, the engineering development, the leather factory, the power plant, the brick plant, the publishing house, the construction, the sales, the subsidiary plant in Pardubice), Bat’a was actively engaged in planning which stretched far beyond the factory walls. The main thing that interested him was a Man and the House for a Man (this was the particularly human dimension that proved such a success in the Footwear for a Man). In the factory newspaper ‘Report’ of May 25th, 1918, he wrote, “Housing will be needed. There is nothing more beautiful than when a man can take refuge in his own home, relax in his own garden, where the sun shines brighter than elsewhere.” This was the beginning of the idea of a ‘garden city’ in Zlín. In 1918 with the development of the urban master plan, Bat’a showed what was intended: firstly there were to be small houses for the staff surrounded by a garden (but not by a vegetable garden!), in addition to this there was to be, “public places for leisure and recreation,” prompt service shops, cafeterias, saunas, a post-office, a hotel, a cinema, a school, a kindergarten and a hospital. The main idea was to merge the life and the work of the employee. As early as 1905 Bat’a wrote on the wall of the factory the number of seconds contained in each day—86,400! Looking at the inscription, people kept nodding and saying that the son of the old Bat’a had obviously gone mad. But this was the grounding principle of the entire enterprise—time: losing even a single second was impermissible. This principle was considered above all while planning the urban areas and implemented later in all the typical Bat’a towns. Smooth and straight roads led the workers from the factory building to their houses—they had to get to work and back as quickly as possible, wasting no time on any unnecessary trips or reflections. Right beside the factory there were located, “recreational opportunities,”—a department store, a movie theater and a cultural center. It was assumed that after their work the employees could satisfy their cultural and material needs and then go home quickly, without any wasted time.
Servant at work, king at his house
The houses were arranged according to the same principle of time and space economy. At the same time, their main difference from the Soviet buildings was their intended use by one family—Bat’a believed that people should work and spend their free time together, but live and rest separately. This respect for private property and an individual’s personal life was the main difference from the Soviet inspired utopias, and as a result, it became one of the reasons for the success of the model built by Bat’a.
The houses did not belong to the employees; however, they could be inherited if a family worked at the Bat’a enterprise across the generations. At the same time, an employee could be deprived of the house, for example, in the case of some wrongdoings or their dismissal, and it was transferred then to another employee; or, alternatively, a zealous employee could be encouraged further by moving to a better house. The living conditions implied a caring attitude and a respect for certain rules which can still be found in some of the houses as memorial items. In accordance with the rules the family members could not arrange a vegetable garden or a farmstead around the house or keep any farm animals—they were only allowed to enjoy the garden and obliged to take care of it. The rules regulated how many times one needed to ventilate the rooms and how to use the toilet. They strictly described the order of inheritance and the possible violations that led to the deprivation of the house.
The type of the house provided depended on the position held by the employee. The young people were provided with accommodation located not far from the factory, for in addition to their work they were required to attend various training courses. Typically, their homes were equipped with only the most necessary things and had the minimum level of comfort—it was assumed that, “A young man,” and, “A young woman,” as they were officially called, would spend only a minimum amount of time at home. As the position and education of the employee heightened, so the number of rooms and the quantity of furniture in his house increased; some houses were, for example, furnished with pianos and paintings. But this still refers to the houses that could be divided into 1, 2 and 4 segments, each intended for a family living together or for 1 or 2 people sharing the common living space. So in any case there was no excess of luxury: the houses designed for one family and not meant to be shared with neighbors were considered the most comfortable. The houses divided into two parts were the most common, although it is worth noting that in the late 1920’s to early 1930s there emerged a whole small community of villas in the town built for the top level of executives; but still their interiors and architecture in no way went beyond the established functionalism.
The houses were separated by gardens and paths, but never by fences; this emphasized the respect for privacy, but at the same time accentuated their belonging to the factory and urban community.
Red Brick of White Dreams
When Bat’a became the mayor, apart from his own investment in the city transformation, he managed to attract investors from outside since he had managed to establish the lowest taxation for Zlín. Moreover, the most meritorious and responsible employees received their percent of the profits, which attracted yet more new investors and professionals, and among them—architects, to be involved in the participation of the grand project of Bat’a. The main architects whose names are inseparably connected with Zlín and who determined the face of the town were; František L. Gahura, Jan Kotěra (developer of the town plan), Vladimir Karfík and Miroslav Lorenc.
Since 1923 the building of red brick with white cement wash had become the standard for the factory buildings, which began to grow here and there, being surrounded, in line with the, “Factory—Garden” concept by F. Gahura, with gardens and parks.
The first thing one cannot pass by once in Zlín is the Labour Square—quite a large area for a town square, crowned with exquisite buildings: high-rise Administrative Building 21, the Moscow Hotel and a department store. The square from the outset was designed as the central focus for the peculiar presentation of the New Town. That is why the main buildings—in the strategic, as well as in the visual sense—are concentrated in a graceful dialogue. If you stand toward the center of the square, facing the town, then on your right there will be the department store—one of the few buildings which has actually not changed since 1931, when it was built by F. Gahura. Behind your back there will be the Moscow Hotel (which was formerly called the Community House—Společenský Dům), one of the first large projects by Vladimir Karfik after his arrival in Zlín. The dark story of disagreements between Bat’a and the first architect of the Moscow M. Lorenc, according to whose drawings the 11-storey hotel skeleton was built, forced M. Lorenc to leave Zlín; the building was completed under the redrafted project by Vladimir Karfik. In front of the hotel there is a stable structure of the horizontal parallelepipeds of the Grand Cinema which, despite the fact that now it does not seem that big, was indeed the biggest cinema in Czechoslovakia intended for 2,500 spectators when it was built in 1932 by the same M. Lorenc. On the opposite side, across the road, there stretches the factory complex made of elegant red brick, sealed with white stripes of lime and topped with the main vertical, enclosing the square—the legendary Administrative Building 21.
“21” does not mean “the21st” - it means “the 21st century”
The rapid development of the company required new buildings. Administrative Center 21, designed by V. Karfik, was the embodiment of the power, global growth and expansion of the company. The 77.5m high, 17-storey skyscraper rapidly rose above the ever less flat landscape in 1937-38. It was the tallest building in Czechoslovakia at that time, equipped with the most advanced technology. The automatic lifts, elevators, freight elevators and all the stairs were placed in a separate, external part of the building—which provokes, in addition to astonishment, a muted rhetorical question about, for example, the excessive luxury of being rescued in the case of a hypothetical fire. But, as was the case with Titanic, who would think of fires when the building was equipped with such innovations as pneumatic dispatch, air conditioning and electrical sockets located close to the floor with a three meter interval. Moreover, even the hygienic procedures for the building were provided for, which was unheard of at the time: in order to maintain this handsome edifice in a perfect state of cleanliness and brilliance, special mobile platforms for washing the numerous windows from outside were invented. Besides all of this, it was the first office building with mobile offices, the area of which could be regulated with the help of mobile glass walls (the size within which their area could vary amounted to 80 x 20m). The most famous mobile office was the elevator with glass walls, 6 x 6m in area, in which Jan A. Bat’a (the brother who took over the company management after the death of Tomash) traveled between the floors throughout the building. A legend tells of the severe nature of Bat’a, who would suddenly appear, “behind one’s back,” in his shiny elevator and crack down upon the unfortunate, if he managed to find any wrongdoings. Bat’a himself would explain such an office as a super-efficient management tool.
One had to treat and teach people in order to have people to manage
One of the first buildings to be completed was the Hospital complex, the bulk of which was built at an incredible speed, within only 9 months. It was unique for it was the first Czechoslovakian hospital, divided into 17 separate pavilions, which were not vertically, but horizontally elongated buildings, connected with one another through a system of passageways (designed by the architects F. Gahura and B. Albert). As in all other cases, a garden was immediately arranged around the hospital.
If we talk about teaching, the major innovation in the schools was the fact that they ceased to be a place only for training, but became the environment for fostering true “Bat’a’s Men.” It is worth noting that this was not an attempt to purloin the loyalty of the employees and fix it to the production and the company, but to instill loyalty to the ideas of development as a broader concept, which might serve as a ground for the appearance (and in most cases it would appear) of the ideas of loyalty to the company and the company’s development.
Developed by F. Gahura, the system of schools was the architectural embodiment of the new idea of corporate education, founded by Bat’a. The first schools, named after Tomáš G. Masaryk, were opened in 1927. The school building looked like an open book, the two wings of which were connected through a glass hall, where a gym and an art studio were located. The spacious classrooms (9 x 6m) were placed on both sides of the wings and filled with the light pouring from the tall windows, placed lengthwise to the wings. Later, the entire school quarter was developed by M. Lorenc in accordance with this framework of school architecture. The vocational schools were provided with residence halls; the unique part of this complex (even at the European level) was a dreamily wide boulevard which, without violating the harmony of the landscape, connected the residence halls and the major educational buildings with each other, confidently leading the new constructors to the radiant future.
They did not know yet that soon this will all be over.
For export: products, business philosophy, architecture and lifestyle The town would keep growing; the people would grow up and produced more and more fancy shoes and working boots; moreover they started making shoes for cars—tires. And even the very cars! And even airplanes! But it was at this point that the state would intervene and stop such a disgraceful assault against their monopoly on aircraft engineering. Besides, the tragic death of the main engineer of this industrial idealism would occur as a result of the fall of his own aircraft (1932). And even though it happened not due to the plane, but obstinacy (which is called persistence in more favourable conditions) and bad weather are to be blamed for everything, the aircraft engineering was to be forgotten. But still there was the whole world around, on which one—at least—could put shoes. In this regard, a funny story can be recalled about two members of the Bat’a’s company who went to explore Africa; to study the supply and demand opportunities there. After a while one of them came back with nothing, lamenting vexedly: “It’s hot, they are walking barefoot—no need for shoes—no prospects for production!” But the other telegraphed happily, “All are barefoot! Great prospects and wide scope for work!”
It is easy to guess to which of the ‘explorers’ Bat’a listened. Thus the new cities emerged. The ideas and model buildings were exported together with the production. The most typical building, which like a twin-mutant would grow here and there, was the Bat’a House of Services. After the first House in Zlín there followed a House in Prague. This was built in 1929 under the project by Ludvík Kysela, Josef Gočar, František Gahura and Aarnošt Sehnal and has become well-known to all the residents and visitors of our capital. In the 1930s similar houses would be erected in Carlsbad, Kolin, Sumperk, Marienbad, Mladá Boleslav, Bratislava, Liberec, Chomutov, Olomouc, Teplice, Caslav, Prague Vysocany, Prague-Vršovice, Yglava, Klatovy, Amsterdam, etc. The most prominent are the Houses of Service created by Vladimir Karfik in Brno, Liberec and Amsterdam.
But that’s enough for a modest House of Service, as early as in 1921 the growth of the model industrial towns began both in Czechoslovakia and abroad, in Europe, Asia, Africa, South and North America.
The uniqueness of this project consisted in the fact that, together with the enterprise the satellite towns received the ‘complete sets’ which included the urban planning with all the major buildings for work, living and recreation, the advanced technology and the lifestyle. The company’s ideology was delivered along with the rest of the products, and the personnel were enjoying the day-and-night care provided by the company—not only in the economy and production area, but also in the field of morality and social life. In 1937 a universal model under the title The Ideal Industrial City of the Future was developed by the architects E. Hruška, R.H. Podzemý and J. Voženílek. The main idea was to centralize the city, intended for 10-20 thousand people, around the enterprise. As in Zlín, the residents of the ‘garden city’ should have been able to easily get to the ‘culture and recreation area’ after work and to continuously enjoy the plantings, whether around the factory, the cinema and of course the houses so that citizens could sink into the effervescent verdure at every turn. Much of this planning was embodied in the ‘industrial twins’ of Zlín, 9 of which were built in Czechoslovakia, 8 in Europe (Spain, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, France, England, Holland, Hungary), and 13 outside Europe (India, the USA, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Brazil).
Artists are those who work to improve their own lives.
Zlín got its own newspaper in 1918, and you can guess that it was the first all-factory newspaper too. By the beginning of the war (1939) there were already 9 papers, and some of them were translated into foreign languages for the overseas staff. Those included: Tvořilá Škola (Creative Schooling, 1930) Mladý Zlín (Young Zlín, 1933), Obuv-Kůže-Guma (Footwear-Leather-Rubber, 1935), Průkopník úspěšného podnikání (The Pioneer of Successful Entrepreneurship, 1936), Objektiv (Camera Lens, 1938), Technický rádce (Technical Adviser, 1939). The journal Zdělení (The Message) since 1918 paid special attention to the development and support of education.
Bat’a’s understanding of what work is, was not confined to manufacturing. The continuous education and self-improvement—in the fields of science and art—were proclaimed the main principles of work as such. In 1923, while discussing the need for education in the journal, he wrote, “To educate people and grow them to be capable of taking care of themselves in any life circumstances and, above all, capable of developing and transmitting this knowledge to the future generations is the most vital of causes.” A few weeks later the journal cited another philosopher, John Ruskin, in order to formulate for the first time their own vision of art, which agreed with the ideology of Zlín. “Art is the first step towards meaningfulness and purposefulness. Everyone who is working to improve their own lives is an artist, who works for the good of all, with the happiness of those pure in heart”.
In the 1930s—a short ‘golden age’ for the Zlín empire—several institutes began to work (the Study Institute opening in 1935 and the Technology Institute opening in 1936), and the Bat’a School of Arts was founded, based on the traditions of the German Bauhaus (1939-45). The Art school did not stop working even during the German occupation, but did not survive in the postwar nationalization of the enterprises and the subsequent change of the regime.
In regard to the arts, the Community House was one more space to support and develop them. Several interesting exhibitions were held there, and in 1936 it hosted the 1st Zlín Salon of contemporary Czechoslovak art. Since then the Salon was held every year except for 1945-1947, and the last, the 11th, took place in 1948. Then the socialist regime was established in the country, where, despite the seeming proximity of ambitions, there was a distinct idea of art “for the people” which came into conflict with the more liberal Bat’a ideology.
However, if the new owners of the socialist life had taken a closer look at the legacy which they inherited, they probably would have been less severe. They even could have allowed the Salon of Arts, for the sake of say, the Universal Labor Day celebration which was another unique feature of the cultural life in Zlín. Those grand celebrations, which were held since the early 1920s, were attended by everyone, young and old, and the factory management would desperately have fun together with the workers. Some of the leftist skeptics could not believe in this triumph of equality and, wanting to check on such a blatant provocation, would flock in crowds from the other corners of Europe to the feast of Labor and well, there to be found was Equality and Fraternity, just as it should be.
Cinema is the most important of arts.
This was stated explicitly through building of the Grand Cinema (the second largest cinema in Europe). At the same time, in the 1930s, the Film Studios were opened in Kudlovo, where the history of the famous Zlín Film Studios started. It is conventionally considered that the studio was used only to achieve business targets—the movies, which it produced, were only made to be used for training, advertising and were in one way or another associated with the corporate enterprise. This is not quite true, the film studio only started with this and, despite the fact that the artistic merits of these films can be doubted—due to the very fact of their ‘deficient’ connection with the business, they are still perfectly watchable. Effervescently shot in the wake of the public optimism and high expectations, these plain films pour out joy and health, are full of humor and unwavering faith in the rapid progress of mankind, and above all, of the faith in humanity itself. However, we should not forget that, along with the ‘production’ demos, several experimental films and documentaries were shot and the legendary puppet animation was started, the film Ferda mravenec (Ferda, the Ant, 1942) was the first puppet film in Czechoslovakia. (The dear comrade Ferda is still living in the wilds of the Film Studio, and everyone can shake its historic paw).
This principal art was developing so rapidly that in the early 1940s they even launched the film festival The Film Harvest (Filmové žně), which was stopped by the war. Perhaps the Film Studio is the only cosmic body in Zlín, which survived all the vicissitudes of the war, the nationalization, the change of power in 1948, the Soviet occupation in 1968, the stabilization in the 1970s, the revolution in 1989 and the partial privatization in the 1990s.
The end of what was called a Utopia.
The government could not forgive the cooperation with the German army, and in 1945, immediately after the war, the Bat’a company was nationalized. The general managers and architects—Gahura and Karfik—were forced to leave Zlín; the architect Miroslav Lorenc, who had built more than 50 buildings in Zlín (the most prominent of them were the Eduard Pelčák’s shoe house, the confectionery Malotova cukrárna, the František Javorského’s shopping and banking centre and the Minaříková restaurant), was shot in 1943 as a member of the resistance organization Obrana národa; many were deported and have never returned.
The final end to the Bat’a system, including the cultural and educational institutions, was laid in 1948 by the communist putsch, the result of which meant that the original organization of work and motivation of workers through their individual responsibility for their own work (and salary!) was replaced by collective responsibility. A new era began— without Bat’a and not in Zlín, but in Gottwaldov. The new government tried to eliminate the very memory of Bat’a by not only renaming the town, but also by destroying everything connected directly to his name, for example, the airplane, which served as the cause of his death and was kept in his museum (the Tomas Bat’a Memorial).
The town continued to grow and develop, but this part of its development is not particularly interesting because of the distortion and the secondary nature of the ideas that was forming the basis of its architecture. As could have been expected, after 1989 many historical buildings were destroyed and rebuilt, and only in the last few years have they been recognized as architectural monuments and subjected to protection by the Association for Protection and Restoration of Monuments.
The uniqueness of Zlín lies in the fact that its development was not a consequence of an ambitious architect’s or a social idealist’s utopian ideas. The rapid transformation of a backward town with traditional ways into a truly modern city was the result of the rational thinking of an active entrepreneur who wanted to create such a living space for his staff that would allow maximizing the improvement of the production.
Due to this direct connection with the interests of pure entrepreneurship, Zlín was not for a long time recognized by the Czech architectural avant-garde. The achievements of the Czech architecture in Zlín were not inscribed in the history throughout the epoch of Czechoslovakia and were much better known abroad than at home. This is mainly due to the fact that the ‘capitalist’ Zlín successfully implemented basic socialist principles. The constructivism of Zlín turned out to be a contradictory cultural legacy, despite its uniqueness and importance. On the one hand, it was a materialization of the rationalism and economy principles in architecture, i.e. of the idea which is quite close to the ideas of communist architecture. On the other hand, it is associated primarily with the achievements and success of capitalism and the free market during the First Czechoslovak Republic. Thus, in every epoch there were reasons for an ambiguous attitude to it on the part of any kind of authorities. However, this neglect is still surprising, Zlín is the first and the only example of a completely functionalist city—not only within the former Czechoslovakia, but in Europe as a whole (created even before the Athens Charter was proclaimed in 1943).
The speculative question, which inevitably arises while analyzing such metamorphoses, is whether the architecture, based on these certain ideas, can perform the same functions in a situation when the ideas are no longer working. For example, the main character of The Zlín Soup video (2007, 8:42) Nazli Kaya (Turkey—the CR, a graduate of the FAMU, Zlín Department), in a playful form shows the old values, represented in the architecture, he makes soup of them, adding to the saucepan, among other things, the grand cinema, the department store and the factory chimney. Finally he throws the result of his culinary creativity away through the window, yelling, “Don’t eat this – it lacks culture!” Another of the artists who have linked their creative work with Zlín is Tomáš Hubaček. In «Návrat do červeného města» (2008, 0:57; Return to the red city) he shows the complete fading of life in the city—a fantastic, but a very plausible-looking plot. And although the film is rather of a detective nature, the aesthetics of the city’s dying and fading against the background of obsolete ideas are even more fascinating than the plot.
One can only hope that the sudden flash of love and attention to Zlín architecture and the rethinking of the value of Zlín constructivism will not subject it to the same fate as, for example, Cesky Krumlov which, by virtue of such attention, in its case to the Middle Ages, was devoid of any signs of life and completely transformed into a monument to itself, interesting only for the searchers of “Czech antiquity.”
Translated from the Russian by Elena Dyuldina.
Letošní 50. ročník Art Basel přilákal celkem 93 000 návštěvníků a sběratelů z 80 zemí světa. 290 prémiových galerií představilo umělecká díla od počátku 20. století až po současnost. Hlavní sektor přehlídky, tradičně v prvním patře výstavního prostoru, představil 232 předních galerií z celého světa nabízející umění nejvyšší kvality. Veletrh ukázal vzestupný trend prodeje prostřednictvím galerií jak soukromým sbírkám, tak i institucím. Kromě hlavního veletrhu stály za návštěvu i ty přidružené: Volta, Liste a Photo Basel, k tomu doprovodné programy a výstavy v místních institucích, které kvalitou daleko přesahují hranice města tj. Kunsthalle Basel, Kunstmuseum, Tinguely muzeum nebo Fondation Beyeler.