Drypoint, 1937, 40x 31,5 cm, size 67x 56,5 cm including frame
Inventory Berka 126.
The all-time high auction price for oil by Filla in Czech – 19,5 million CZK, Adolf Loos Apartment and Gallery, Praha, 2010
The all-time high auction price for oil by Filla in the world – 588 thousand €, Sotheby’s, 2011
Emil Filla was the great pioneer of the Czech cubism already during his study at the Academy, where, at the beginning of the 20th century, totally conservative schooling prevailed. Therefore, Filla had not even completed his studies and started to examine, in a diligent, even art-historian way, the theory and practice of the fast-developing painting art on the West. He sensed the new era of the modern art and he started his own journey to freedom of the expression in painting and he became literally the star of the new Czech art of the 20th century.
Already in the 1930s, he occupied himself in his work with the topic of animal fights, which were the metaphors of the historical war conflicts, but also of the personal creative and mental fights. Filla recorded in his notes that his mission is to achieve an individualistic expression, the manifestation of which is the form in Barbaric nakedness. The painter, throughout his life, even gathered a large archive of various materials, primarily the photographs of art starting from the ancient times. There were many historical pictures of various fights and struggles in his collection, including Picasso´s drawings from the illustrations of Metamorphoses by Ovid, but also for instance the photographs of Romanesque reliefs depicting the fight of an archangel with a dragon, and many confrontations of a bull and a horse, a bull and a man, a lion and a man, a lion and a horse. The motif of struggle and fight was personal to him and therefore he focused on it also in his private collection of photographs, from which he drew the inspiration.
The fight of a man with a bull is also repeated in Filla´s work. Metaphorically, it is the interpretation of the fight with the Cretan bull, which played a significant role in the Cretan religious cult, and appears in many forms in the history of Art. The graphic depicts the figure of a naked man, who kneels under the weight of a defeated bull lying on his shoulders. The face of the man on the graphic has sharp features, typical for the cubistic sculptures – as if it was drawn after the statue of Rodin; next, oversized extremities resemble Picasso´s stylization.
The graphic is one on the first fifty prints, in the end, there were 306 pieces, this is why it belongs to the most valuable and requested ones.
“Filla … is a beautiful example of the seeker for innovative ways, the pioneer yesterday, a mature fine-artist and the creator of a certain typical view on life and the world today.” F.X.Šalda wrote about him and one hundred years later we can only agree with him.
Always, when Filla´s work appears in the auction, the records in the price for sold picture grow up. However, Filla´s artwork is valued not only in the Czech Republic, but there is a great interest in it also in the world auctions.