Review: Gothic art exhibition falls short

An exhibition of gothic art from the 15th and 16th centuries opened on May 21 at Mestské múzeum (City Museum) in Bratislava. Running until September, the small collection backs up the museum's permanent collection of city artifacts during the busy summer months.
Although the title of the exhibit includes the words 'gothic art', a more suitable replacement might be 'Gothic objects'. The exhibition's five rooms include around 20 sculptures, mostly Christ figures, but only two paintings and far more books, bowls, basins, oven tools, keys, and other items designed more with utility in mind than beauty.

Gotické umenie z Bratislavských zbierok (Gothic Art from the Bratislava Collectoins)

Where: Mestské Múzeum (City Museum) Stará Radnica Primaciálne nám. 3
When: May 21 - Sept 3. Tue-Thu 9:00-17:00, Weekends 9:00-18:00.
Price:25 crowns
Rating: 4 out of 10

An exhibition of gothic art from the 15th and 16th centuries opened on May 21 at Mestské múzeum (City Museum) in Bratislava. Running until September, the small collection backs up the museum's permanent collection of city artifacts during the busy summer months.

Although the title of the exhibit includes the words 'gothic art', a more suitable replacement might be 'Gothic objects'. The exhibition's five rooms include around 20 sculptures, mostly Christ figures, but only two paintings and far more books, bowls, basins, oven tools, keys, and other items designed more with utility in mind than beauty.

The simplicity is not entirely a bad thing. The exhibition's five chiselled rocks - just small enough to make a brawny man think he could lift one and just big enough to throw his back out if he tried - are impressive, crude examples of a simpler artistic approach. One stone casts a pie-faced man sticking his tongue out of his mouth, another captures an underworld beast of burden. Looking at their craggy imperfections one can almost imagine a brawny Slovak woodsman working with chisel in hand in a gush of artistic inspiration, only to be called away by his wife demanding he milk the sheep; reluctantly, he abandons his project forever, perhaps for the better - had he perfected the piece, there would not be such an immediate connection to the artist.

Unfortunately there is little else in the exhibition that demands one's attention. A collection of religious books have attractive hand-written Hebrew texts and colourful illustrations but are remote in their glass cases. Clusters of pottery, jugs, and wash basins only seem to fill space. Even the handful of swords are unimpressive.

The price of admission, however, includes access to the rest of the museum, which is a solid compendium of Bratislava's development from the mid nineteenth century to the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1919. For sadists, the building's musky basement houses torture devices and gruesome drawings of disembowelment, agony on the rack, and a man being sawed in half vertically from his groin to skull.

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