Professor Michal Gabriel

* 1960

  • "I knew the system as a student but it didn't hit me with all its force, but from Kurt Gebauer I knew how it worked. The principle was that there was an Artists' Union and an Artists' Fund. The Fund was geared more towards craftsmen and people who had work experience but didn't have a university degree. Whereas, the Union usually accepted people right after their graduation. Members got stamps in their ID cards. Those, who were in the Fund or in the Union, got freelance jobs. The Union was mainly used to redistribute government contracts. There were no others. To control everything, the Communists created this structure. If a state-owned company wanted a work of art, and they did want it because there was a rule of three percent of the budget spent on art, they approached the Union or the Fund. That way all the other artists were excluded. There were also people who could have been there, but everything went through this net of officials, and they didn't let anybody in, and they guarded their own business. They were dividing the contracts amongst themselves. It was actually an ingenious way. In retrospect, it had one practical advantage over the present. There was an institution that knew how to work with the public contract and was able to give the artist service. They had lawyers, they made a tender, somebody won the tender, they provided the artist with advances. The problem was that they divided it all among themselves. There was no other way to go."

  • "It basically came out of the selection from The Confrontations. As far as I remember, the selection of The Stubborn members was quite spontaneous. I didn't even know how it happened. I learned it all in hindsight. The initiators were Jiří David and Stanislav Diviš, who decided that we had to continue. They approached me with the idea that it would be good to start an artistic group of people who would be at the core of The Confrontations. I understood it to be both an artistic venture and a bit political. We were supposed to actually come together and disrupt the system a little bit, especially in the field of visual arts. To come out with an opinion that would be stronger if we were united as a group."

  • "The Confrontations definitely had an impact on the public, but it was due to the hunger for some art and free expression. It was amazing for us because we organized everything ourselves, no one helped us and we truly absorbed the new wave that was happening in the arts and that was going on in Europe at that time. All mixed together with the energy that we were doing it with in such an uncontrolled way, it was really powerful. We were meeting, we were putting shows together by feeling. Jiří David and Stanislav Diviš had quite a big role there, contacting and selecting artists. The selection of the works themselves took place more on the spot. More or less everything was exhibited. The walls were covered with paintings, without any proper installation or order."

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 13.08.2021

    délka: 01:43:32
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 2

    Praha Studio ED, 01.10.2021

    délka: 01:56:56
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

If my dad were alive, I wouldn‘t get into Academy of Fine Arts. I saw the creation of The Stubborn as a political act

Michal Gabriel in his second year at AVU (Academy of Fine Arts in Prague) in the studio of the sculptor Kryštůfek
Michal Gabriel in his second year at AVU (Academy of Fine Arts in Prague) in the studio of the sculptor Kryštůfek
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Michal Gabriel was born on 25 February 1960 in Prague. His father František was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and a driver at the Ministry of Culture. His mother Jarmila worked at the same ministry in the theatre institute. After the occupation on 21 August 1968, there was an ideological break in the family and his father was expelled from the party. In 1978 Michal Gabriel entered the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Prague. He graduated a year earlier in 1987 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in sculpture. From 1984 he participated in unofficial student exhibitions called The Confrontations (Konfrontace). In the same year he became a founding member of the artistic group The Stubborn (Tvrdohlaví). In 1995 he received the Jindřich Chalupecký Award and in 1998 he took up the position of Head of the Sculpture Studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FaVU) of the Brno University of Technology, where he was teaching at the time of the filming in 2021.